Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Worst Behaviour: Mobile Phones.

So today's post is all about dealing mobile phone use within the worst groups you may encounter as part of your Maths delivery. I am mainly talking about groups that won't get any work done, will not respond to you, constantly on their phone or causing low level disruption. Compared to the rest of the groups you have this is the group you dread the most. You really dread the thought of teaching this group and don't know what you can do to work to their best interests.

There are not bad students, there are bad behaviours. Some students will test this thinking but you have to remember that the person you are seeing displays bad behaviour, not that they are necessarily a bad person altogether. I am going to talk tonight about what to do when you have groups like this and how you can move forward in their learning of maths!

So the biggest thing is, prepare, prepare, prepare. There is nothing more important than being prepared with a range of activities and resources that students can use, it may be that you work in the interests of the students who really enjoy certain elements of your lessons. You will find something that captures your students interests, I know that's easier said than done when you are facing your challenge head on and think there is no way out.

Face your challenge head on!

So what about the mobile phones? There are a few different options here which I have tried and tested for you so that should hopefully take the guesswork out of what you could do. I've tried the mobile phone box, the asking nicely and having students leave the classroom with varying degrees of success on some level. However a mixture of all these approaches will work as long as you are consistent and fair in your approach to each and every student (even if someone is giving you a really hard time lately)

Make it clear that people are not meant to be on their phones in lesson. Some of my students will play videos on full volume during my lessons. If this happens, phone goes in the box, refusal and they leave your classroom. It's a very simple and fair rule that you can use for every class situation. It may seem a bit harsh, but let's face it. If Facebook was more appealing to the point they are watching videos, then what are they gaining from being in your classroom anyway. You have to have the discipline fit the offence, if someone is distracting your classroom that much, you need to remove the distraction altogether.

Once the phone is away, be sure to keep on top of concentration in the class. I have it where some students will sit at the back and stay on their phones, you have to ask yourself whether to challenge this behaviour or not and what you are intending to achieve by doing this. If someone has completed no work within half of your lesson, you need to ask them to leave for minimal effort, then it's up to the tutor to encourage them to behave within your classes and actually work. They are being funded to be there, don't let their non-work stop you enjoying your job. I would honestly encourage this thinking within the first few weeks of teaching, you have to make it clear that you will not accept no work whatsoever in your lessons.

Consider how you will reward your well behaved students, you may decide to write celebration notes on the board for them and tell their tutor of their progress within your subject (especially helpful to see them in person). Accept the good with the bad in the group and it will keep you sane when you are looking around your classroom and considering a new job prospect. I had this exact emotion yesterday, feeling what the point of it all was, just remember that nobody should make you feel bad for trying to help them. Your sanity in this environment comes first, you can't keep thinking about results of your groups all the time. You have to make an impact on the group as a whole.

Finally teachers, remember that you are not alone. In the staffroom, people will moan about different groups and behaviours that they see within the classes that they have. It may not seem as bad in the grand scheme but remember that in some respects you are still teaching teenagers who have qualifications to complete. When you speak one to one with your students, you may find that they are more likely to open up and concentrate in your classes if you can show them your human side. The answers to your own individual situations will come to you, just remember to keep your head up and carry on!

I'm going to try new approaches with this class on friday, I'll be sure to report back with my findings!

Enjoy the rest of your week teachers!

- Matt