According to The Guardian teachers will get tougher powers to deal with unruly pupils in a “zero tolerance” crackdown on nuisance in the classroom……..
Staff will be given powers to search children for mobile phones, music players, pornography, fireworks and cigarettes, extending existing powers that allow teachers to search pupils for knives.
Well, it’s about time some of the power was given back to teachers/lecturers, I know from experience the absolute terror of dealing with an angry teenager, who could threaten others in the group as well as yourself and then suddenly thinking, if I touch this person, I will lose my job!
As a new lecturer (around 10 years ago) my first experience of teaching a group, was with 15 level 1 hairdressing students. A nice group, 13 girls, 2 boys all aged between 16 and 19 years. I wanted to stamp my authority, while being fair, approachable and fun during the session. All was going swimmingly until I asked one grumpy looking student to stop using her mobile phone to text while she should have been practicing her cutting skills on a block (practice head). The conversation went along the lines of me saying, “you know it’s against class rules to use your phone during lessons, please put it away”. Her saying, ” who the F*CK do you think you are, I am 16 years old and you can’t tell me what to do!” Before I knew it she was holding a scissors 4 inches from my face and from the look on her face, she would stick it in my eyes at any moment! They didn’t prepare me for this during my PGCE course. I managed to calm her down and another student took the scissors out of her hand, but I was physically shaken and the girl was subsequently disciplined and expelled from the course.
My point in all this is that at the critical moment my actions could have been instictively to man-handle this obnoxious little she-devil and get her out of the training salon and what would have been the consequences then? There could have been an investigation, which may have resulted in me losing my first ever teaching post and who knows what else as a result?
After 10 years of working in FE, I have seen my fair share of angry teenagers and indeed adults and I have usually managed to placate the person and calm the situation down but the threat is ever present when teaching large numbers of people who are frequently using ‘cut throat’ razors and scissors. At 16 plus, very rarely are parents involved and on the odd occasion that they are, they will defend their offspring vociferously, while never once ticking them off for their behaviour. The attitude of far too many parents, is that they put up with this stroppy teenager and if you are prepared to teach him/her then you have to deal with it too.
Thankfully the majority of teenagers are absolutely fine. They are imaginative, motivated, polite and while having their moments, they usually realise themselves that you reap what you sow in this life and that respect is reciprocal. Those are the people that teachers/lecturers enjoy working with. The satisfaction you get from working with people like this cannot be under-estimated.
Unruly students/pupils who are a threat to the learning experience of others should not be tolerated and parents should support facilitators in their quest to turn their children into well adjusted, employable young adults. As Spiderman once said, “with power comes responsibility”, I would argue that with responsibility, you should also have power!”