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Tips of the trade: 7. Pupils' try-ons

Things not working out? Feeling a bit isolated? When you spend most of your day outnumbered 30 to one, it is easy to surrender to this feeling. Here are some of the ways in which pupils can make us feel unique in our incompetence.

"Our previous teacher was better." Pupils can rapidly elevate their previous teacher to the status of a saint (or martyr). Don't be taken in. Chances are they had a similar relationship to the one they have with you. In fact, your name will probably be carried forward as an example of shining virtue to use against whoever follows on from you.

"Iwe get on with all the teachers except you." This is rarely the case, and is a ploy to make you feel you are being unfair or unreasonable. You will find that almost every teacher has one or two pupils with whom they do not see eye to eye. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is not always the same pupils.

"All the other teachers let usI " should never be taken at face value. You will hear of other teachers "letting" pupils take the register, eat in class and pack up 10 minutes before the end of the lesson.

It is important to talk to your colleagues to create a clearer picture of how things actually are. Questioning them on how they find groupspupils and what strategies they employ will help.

Finally, if your colleagues appear not to encounter any of the difficulties that seem to plague you, you may need to look closer at your own practice.

John Honeybul is deputy head at Rokeby school, Stratford, London borough of Newham. We pay for all tips published. Send yours to: susan.young@newsint.co.uk

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