I am a mature NQT but I feel like giving up because of the appalling behaviour of one of my Year 8 RE classes. The children call out, walk around and pull out their neighbours' computer leads. I follow procedure to the letter but detentions are rarely attended and there is no follow-up. The children get away with this behaviour and I have no support. The head of Year 8 is ineffectual and my mentor is off sick. I have no problems with other classes but I dread teaching this one. I want to know how to be more assertive with key stage 3.
What you said
As an NQT you're not supposed to be exposed to unusually difficult classes. You can plough on and try to crack their behaviour by any means necessary - but get your head of department, mentor, head of year and senior leadership team on board so that they can't hold it against you if it all goes pear-shaped. Or demand your rights as an NQT and get assigned to an alternative class - and contact the local authority as it is likely to be supportive.
Why not approach a member of the senior leadership team and ask for a meeting as your mentor is off sick? Lay your cards on the table and ask for support. If you are proactive in this way the response will be far better than if you allow the situation to remain as it is. Your head of department is also there to help. Tackle it head on.
The expert view
The problem is not with you or how interesting the lessons are: the problem lies with the pupils' behaviour and the school's inability to support your efforts to amend it. Keep setting detentions. Keep your paperwork immaculate; record who, when, why. Then follow the school's behaviour policy to a T. Request that the line managers assist you as the behaviour policy dictates. If they do not, politely ask why (one of the benefits of maturity is that you might not be so timid about rocking the boat a little).
Keep the pressure up on those responsible for assisting you. Make it easier to help you than it is to ignore you. But keep doing it: the certainty of a sanction is more important than the severity of the sanction. The children have to know that you mean business and the school has to support you in getting that meaning across to the pupils. And if your colleagues do not support you then they do not deserve to have you and you should look for a better school. Good luck.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES blog, or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum
Post your questions at www.tes.co.ukbehaviour.