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Tips of the trade: 8. Deal with it

Last week, I discussed what happened if things were not working in your relations with the pupils and your lessons weren't always successful. To continue on the same theme: this could be because you are spending much of your day isolated from your colleagues, and pupils can easily sow doubt in your mind.

But sometimes you need to take action. If a problem has not been picked up, perhaps by a mentor or induction tutor, you may need to be more proactive.

The most important thing is to be able to identify the source of the problem. Although you may believe "everything" is going wrong, you need to be specific. Which pupils, classes or lessons are giving the most problems? It could be that latecomers ruin the start of your lesson and it never really recovers. Or perhaps your inability to deal with a few persistent troublemakers is souring your relations with the rest of the class. Once you have established the cause, you will be in a much better position to find the solution. Ask around - form tutors, heads of year and senior managers may offer useful ideas. If not, they may offer to assist where needed, perhaps at the start of the lesson.

Alternatively, you could ask to watch colleagues in action and focus on how they deal with the types of problems you have identified. The main thing to remember is that identifying and solving problems is a sign of strength, not weakness - and being able to recognise that a problem exists is a major step towards solving it.

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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