Education Quandary: A pupil has behaved very violently towards me and my confidence has gone. What can I do?

Hilary's advice

First of all, don't feel badly about reacting this way. Violence towards us, in any form, is an assault on who we are and most of us find it hard to get over. But I know that any other advice I can offer here is probably going to feel inadequate and irrelevant, as you have already made it clear that your recent teacher training was of no help, and neither was any of the advice you received from school colleagues.

The hard truth is that there are some pupils in school today who have no respect for anyone and who do not hesitate to bully, threaten and intimidate teachers, and there is no foolproof way of dealing with them. Experience will help you become more confident and more able to assess situations. And your school is obliged to give you good mentoring support – if your mentor is no use, go to your headteacher and demand someone better.

The practical advice from some behaviour experts is to think ahead about problems, and how you would handle them and what you would want as an outcome. Confronting a potentially violent situation is not always the best option. Sometimes it can be wiser to ignore it, or to try and distract those involved.

I think your bigger problem might be dealing with the fear you have been left with, and for that you might want to consider short-term counselling or help from an external body such as your union, or the Teacher Support Network.

Readers' advice

How disgraceful that a young teacher should have this happen at the start of her working life. The school should make sure that the parents of this boy, as well as the boy himself, realise that this behaviour cannot be sanctioned. It is impossible to have a decent society if respect for authority is lost. If your school will not take a stand, my advice would be to change jobs.

Audrey Coussins, London W2

After teaching in primary schools for nearly 20 years I was last year pushed to the ground by an angry 11-year-old.

The shock left me trembling for weeks and I am sure that if this had happened at the start of my career, I would not have continued. People should know the levels of aggression that teachers have to deal with these days. All the old tricks of speaking calmly and sending children out of the room do not work on those who have "lost it" or who have no respect for you.

Helen Griffin, Bristol

I have had chairs thrown in the classroom, tables pushed over, fists raised and doors slammed in my face. What keeps me going is the knowledge that it is only a small number of children that cause these problems, and that the others are mainly well-behaved and willing to learn. Hold this majority in mind when the rest cause you grief – and do not give the others the satisfaction of feeling that they have won.

Brian Tanfield, Hampshire

Next Week's Quandary

What is your advice about teaching at an international school? I'm strongly tempted by the thought of working in the sunshine, and getting away from our sapping health-and-safety culture for a bit of adventure, but I'm also ambitious and do not want to end up in a backwater.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet.com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com. They can be searched by topic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this secondary s...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A teacher of Science is required by this 11...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea