Hayden is kicking off again. With a clockwork regularity he’s decided he’s not going to do his work and instead is shouting across the room to a boy he likes to shout at when he doesn’t want to do his work. The boy shouts back and this personal affront means that Hayden is up and out of his chair, lunging towards him kicking chairs and pupils out of the way. You intervene, and this leads to a confrontation where Hayden threatens you, using particularly abusive language. You’re calm, yet firm and ask Hayden to leave the classroom. Which, after much protestation and further abuse, he does. 

You wearily make your way out to of the class and Hayden is there pacing, you’ve been here before. You wait, sitting down on a chair as Hayden continues to pace. You know this might take a while but the rest of the class are fine and this one really needs you. His behaviour screams that at you. Hayden’s home life is chaotic – father is AWOL and his mother tries in her own way but with four other children and her own issues, it’s incredibly difficult. Hayden’s actions are a reflection of the pain he’s in and you understand this. 

Eventually he calms and a discussion begins. You’re sensitive, funny even – trying to lighten the mood because you know he responds to that (we’ve been here before after all). He’s nonchalant, defiance still there in his eyes but there’s also a softening. He smiles. You take this as a good sign, He moves back into the room, apologises to the boy (this brings audible gasps from some of the other members of the class as it is so out of character) and sits down. You’ll probably have to do this again, but that doesn’t matter – you’ll continue to work with the pastoral team who have a firm handle on Hayden, his behaviour and triggers, and you’ll continue to reach out. Because he needs it.

One row and two desks behind Hayden sits Jack. Jack’s home life is a narrative of horror and he doesn’t know if he can take it any more.

No-one knows this because Jack is quiet.

The bell goes. 








  1. Chester Draws

    You know this might take a while but the rest of the class are fine and this one really needs you.

    Sorry, but you are their teacher, of course they need you. Sure, they might be sitting quietly, even trying to work, but it’s not the same as having a teacher in there helping and guiding. Having them quiet doesn’t mean they are learning.

    You’ll probably have to do this again, but that doesn’t matter

    Yeah, it does matter. He’s been abusive you, and taken teaching time away from his classmates, and it doesn’t matter?. That he’s likely to do it again makes it even worse. I accept that teachers shouldn’t over-react to a kid with issues, and it sure helps to not take it personally, but it does matter.

    One thing sure-fire to get a teacher into trouble is trying to be a guidance counsellor. It’s only a matter of time before it explodes in your face, and while you may be left protesting that you were just doing your best by the kid, the reality is still it wasn’t your job or your business. If it’s not the problem kid himself, it will be the other kids’ parents who ask why you spend all your time dealing with one kid and not enough teaching theirs.

    Sure, accuse me of being heartless. But I really like my job, and I’m not going to ruin it by doing something that I am not trained to do. Which is not the same as walking away. I spend time talking to counsellors seeking their advice on managing such a student, I reconsider my classroom strategies to help keep it calm, and I will talk to the student about what the problem is.

    But not in class time: that’s for teaching.

    • tstarkey1212

      Hi Chester – thank you for taking the time to comment and apologies for the length of time it’s taken me to get back. I envisaged the post as an awareness piece of the different types of behaviour exhibited in the classroom and perhaps a small critique on the efforts spent on one particular type (perhaps at a very great cost). I try to avoid a value judgement of the actions and leave it up to the reader to make a decision. It may well be the case that the actions presented are not best practice – I’ll leave it up to readers (like your good self) to decide. Many thanks.

      • Chester Draws

        Fair enough.

        “Best practice” is difficult without knowing the school. Mine has excellent DPs and Counsellors, so I would use them in a case like the one you propose.

        Some other schools might not have that, and spending time with the child might be a necessary option, from time to time.

  2. Angel

    I know exactly what you’re saying…. You only notice the ones who can’t control their emotions and problematic home lives… I have some quiet ones, who I know have CP issues, but you wouldn’t know until you knew.

    An insightful read

  3. Pingback: All the Students, All the Needs – The Christian English Teacher

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