Diary of an NQT: Playing the disappointed card

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Our NQT diarist realises she has let behaviour slide with one particular class and so delivers a post-half-term lecture to get things back on track...

By the time half-term arrived last month, the kids were exhausted. It was easy to tell that they just needed a week off.

It was especially apparent in one of my weaker year 7 classes. The routines they had got into and stuck to for four months were rapidly unravelling – their behaviour was getting irritating.

At the beginning of the year I made my expectations clear to every class. This seemed to be working well up until a few weeks ago.

I don’t even think I realised quite how lax both they (and I) had got. They would come into the room noisily, call out and ask silly questions and I think I was just too exhausted to care.

Because they were “easy” to manage, I had become too relaxed with their general behaviour. The class was starting to irritate me more than usual and in the final week before half-term it struck me – they just needed reminding of the rules.

For the first month or so they were terrified of everyone, and I managed to keep up the menace for a few months.

The reason they had become so irritating now was because they were so comfortable with me as their teacher that I was no longer scary. I had also become comfortable with them.

When once a simple glare would make them shy away silently, it now took a little more to keep them in line. They know I’m not a horrible monster, so the fear factor has gone.

So in their first lesson back after half-term, I came down hard on them to set the record straight. They lined up in silence, entered in silence, and sat looking at me expectantly and slightly shocked.

I proceeded to lecture them for 10 minutes about how much I used to enjoy teaching them and how it had got to the point last term that I didn’t enjoy spending time with them – I laid it on pretty thick.

After the rant, I felt almost guilty when I looked around at their faces. They looked so solemn and dejected.

They were never particularly rude or malicious with their behaviour, they just pushed me to the edge with their annoying habits. I started to wonder whether they did really deserve the telling off I had just given them.

However, once I broke the tension with an enthusiastic introduction to their lesson, the mood lifted and it was like having my old lovely class back. They were well mannered, respectful and eager to get involved.

There were no calls of “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissss” from the other side of the classroom, no silly questions about whether they should use a pen or a pencil. They just got on with the work and engaged.

I couldn’t believe the difference that just one small rant could make. I suspect it wouldn’t work with certain classes, but playing the disappointed card with the year 7s was a huge success.

Unfortunately, that class is about to be taken over by the new student teacher, so I will only get to watch them behave well from the back of the room.

Fingers crossed that he keeps up the behaviour management so they are just as lovely when I take them back.

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of citizenship, RE and humanities at a school in the Midlands.


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