Classroom Management is Getting Harder


Teacher training really falls flat when it comes to providing new teachers the practical tools to deal with the increasing difficulties of managing a class:

Teachers have warned that disruptive behaviour in classrooms has escalated sharply in recent years, as funding cuts to local services have left schools struggling to cope.

A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found that the vast majority of staff had recorded a rise in the number of children with emotional, behavioural or mental health problems.

The union collated numerous examples of challenging behaviour, ranging from violent assault to defamatory campaigns on social media.

Suggested reasons for the deteriorating behaviour include a lack of boundaries at home, attention-seeking, an absence of positive role models at home, low self-esteem and family breakdown.

The ATL, which has 160,000 members across the UK, said aggressive cuts to the traditional safety net of local services have left schools dealing with complex behavioural and mental health problems on their own.

Earlier this month it emerged that two-thirds of local authorities have cut their budgets for children and young people’s mental health services since the coalition government came to power in 2010. A freedom of information request by the YoungMinds charity found that 34 out of 51 local authorities which responded said their budgets for children’s and young people’s mental health services had been cut, one by 76%.

Alison Ryan, the union’s educational policy adviser, said: “Services are struggling for survival or operating with a skeleton staff, so there’s now a huge pressure on schools to almost go it alone. Schools are absolutely on the front line of dealing with these children and young people and trying to provide a service that means they don’t fall through the cracks.”

, general secretary of the ATL, said: “The huge funding cuts to local services mean schools often have to deal with children’s problems without any help.”

The survey of 844 staff found that 62% felt there were more children with emotional, behavioural and mental health problems than two years ago, with 56% saying there were more than five years ago. Nearly 90% of support staff, teachers, lecturers, school heads and college leaders revealed that they had dealt with a challenging or disruptive student during this school year. One primary school teacher in Cheshire said: “I have been kicked in the head, spat at, called disgusting names, told to eff off, had the classroom trashed regularly and items thrown. We accept children who are excluded from other schools so they come to us with extreme behaviour issues.”

A teacher in a West Midlands secondary school said: “One colleague had a Twitter account set up in front of him on a mobile called Paedo ****** [their name], which invited others to comment on him and his sexual orientation.”

Another teacher in a secondary school in Dudley added: “I’ve been sworn at, argued with, shouted at, had books thrown at me, threatened with physical abuse and had things stolen and broken.”

Bousted added: “Regrettably, teachers and support staff are suffering the backlash from deteriorating standards of behaviour. They are frequently on the receiving end of children’s frustration and unhappiness and have to deal with the fallout from parents failing to set boundaries and family breakdowns.”

On the positive side, most of the disruptive behaviour facing staff was categorised as fairly low level, with 79% of staff complaining that students talked in class, did not pay attention and messed around.

Some 68% added that students were disrespectful and ignored their instructions, 55% said they had dealt with verbally aggressive students, and a fifth with a physically aggressive student. Among secondary and sixth-form students, smoking was considered a significant problem.

On most occasions challenging behaviour was deemed an irritation which disrupted class work, according to 74% of staff, but 42% revealed that they suffered stress and almost a quarter said they had lost confidence at work. Forty of those questioned said they had been physically hurt by a student.

Click on the link to read The Dog Eat Dog Style of Education

Click on the link to read Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors

Click on the link to read Useful Resources to Assist in Behavioural Management

Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does


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3 Responses to “Classroom Management is Getting Harder”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    It appears from the article that an upsurge in classroom management issues is a a fairly recent phenomenon. The suggested reasons, “a lack of boundaries at home, attention-seeking, an absence of positive role models at home, low self-esteem and family breakdown” are not recent phenomena, but the cutbacks to funding for special education services certainly are.

    I would like to suggest that the above is not the complete story. Having taught students from prep/kindergarten to grade 12 I suggest that state mandated curricula that fail to account for cognitive development of children have a major role. This, too is a recent phenomenon under the supposition that curricula are becoming more rigorous. Rigour in the curriculum, rightly understood, is a good development. A curriculum that expects a level of performance from children far in excess of their level of cognitive development is not what I call a rigorous curriculum. I call it a misguided curriculum.

    I call it misguided because it seems to be underpinned by a philosophy which says that things difficult to learn may be learned more easily, given the correct technique. I have nothing against technique. Improved teaching techniques have always been on my agenda. But let me say this. I know of no technique that can teach a child to walk before he is able to stand. I know of no technique that can teach a child to stand before she can crawl. In the physical domain certain milestones occur in a developmental order. There is little to suggest that such is not the case in the intellectual domain.

    When one observes a teacher attempting to teach children to define abstract properties of elements in terms of which they do not understand the meaning, one is led to ask the teacher where this material has come from. The usual answer is “the syllabus”; a state mandated syllabus. When this is happening in a grade 2 class where the children are operating at a decidedly concrete level one must wonder, on the one hand, how much teacher training the framer of the syllabus had, and on the other hand if they had any teacher training and experience at all. And then one must wonder where the inspiration for such a curriculum arose, and the answer is often, in the political domain.

    When one makes observations of this sort repeatedly across the range of the education spectrum, from pre/K to grade 12, one begins to suspect, furthermore, that there is a perfectly logical reason why many children gradually become disengaged from the learning process. The framers of state mandated curricula haven’t the foggiest idea what they are doing. Despite such rhetoric as “No Child Left Behind” my observations lead me to think that more children are being left behind than ever. Now a child who has been left behind is not going to sit still in a classroom and behave according to the rules. Such a child will be maximally frustrated. Indeed sitting in the classroom for such a child would be akin to the Chinese water torture.

    It’s time people with a political agenda were given no say in the curriculum whatsoever. If the first step in educating the child is some esoteric, mandated, misguided document, written in the legalese language of the bureaucracy which takes a QC to understand in all its facets, then I submit that such documents ought to be abandoned. Surely the first step in educating a child is to understand, before anything else, where such a child stands on the educational continuum. Can the child read? Does the child understand the role of phonics in decoding a new word? Does the child have a workable sight vocabulary? Now such questions have to be answered long before the teacher consults the syllabus.

    Perhaps the syllabus ought to be taken off its pedestal of politico-legal necessity and returned to the domain of the teacher, the student and the classroom. But we had better train our teachers properly in the science of the cognitive development of children and in sound principles of instructional design, then we might possibly be closer to the ideal of “No Child Left Behind”.

  2. Kanai Gandhi Says:

    I think that the problem of discipline is stemming from the fact that all of a sudden there is a lot of liberty given to students. Which in most cases is a better way to construct a classroom culture, as the students think that their opinion and suggestions matter and that the teacher isn’t the only source of receiving knowledge. By giving students enough liberty to actively participate in class and contribute to activities, we make sure that their level of involvement and retention increases. However, in some cases students take this liberty for granted and don’t think of their teachers as an authoritative figure, anymore. They start disrespecting them to the level of hazing their own teachers. Therefore, in order to solve this problem, teachers should be aware of the level of liberty given to their students, where they understand that their involvement is needed and yet, they need to be disciplined in class.

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