Education Quandary: A pupil has behaved very violently towards me and my confidence has gone. What can I do?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Have shock jocks gone too far after Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut?
Former Google exec says he has 100,000 emails showing how 'immoral' company avoids paying UK tax
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
British man faces court after confessing to slitting two children's throats in Lyon flat
'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 1 Asteroid nine times the size of the QE2 liner to sail pass Earth
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 British business: We need to stay in the EU - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 4 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS2 teacher needed to do PPA ...
£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education London: We are currently looking for a N...
£36000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education London: Special Needs Teacher ne...