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Working at an EBD School in Special Measures

24/11/16

 EBD schools can be particularly challenging, Megan gives us a run down of the 10 things she discovered helped her to make the most of her time in one.

I spent the final term of the school year working at an EBD school in special measures, meaning that it would be converted into an Academy by September 2016. I have learned a lot since being at this school, particularly a lot about myself and how I deal with really appalling behaviour (of which there is A LOT at this school!) and the politics of a school which has not done well in previous Ofsted inspections. I’ve made a list of a lot of the things that I’ve learned, most of it is just about teaching in general… but I wrote it all down… because sharing is caring!

10 Things I Have Learned from Working at an EBD School in Special Measures:

1. Sometimes it is a chocolate-for-breakfast kind of day. Those days when you feel like you can’t go on and all you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry.

2. You should probably always have chocolate on hand. Just in case.

3. Make friends with the people who have sofas in their office. You will be glad you did when you need to take a nap because your students are giving you a headache!

4. Teach a subject that is not your main subject if you get a chance. The same way that learning a new language makes you a better speaker of your native language, teaching a new subject makes you a better teacher of your own subject! I taught science at this school even though I’m an English teacher and I can honestly say that I can’t wait to go back to teaching English and putting into practice some of the techniques I used in my science lessons!

5. It is ok to go to a secluded room and have a little cry, but don’t let it get to you on a daily basis. Children who go to EBD schools have all kinds of crazy backgrounds. There is a quote that says something like “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” and that is so true. You won’t know the detailed life story of all of these children, and they won’t know your story. Every once in a while they may say something which hits a nerve with you. Don’t apologize for your emotions… but also try not to show them TOO much in from of the pupils or it can be more ammunition!

6. Despite some advice that I got when I first started at the school, (“Just don’t let them know that what they say bothers you”) DO let them know that what they say bothers you! Pupils like this need to know that in the real world they will not get away with saying certain things or behaving in certain ways. Always follow up with incident reports, etc.!

7. Bring a packed lunch every day because you probably won’t have time to go to the canteen or to the Sainsbury’s down the road.

8. I recommend making a marking schedule (especially in mainstream actually!). We had a five day timetable, and I taught six classes so every single day (except Thursday) I marked one set of books, and then on Thursdays, as I had most PPA lessons that day, I marked two sets of books. Always the same set on the same day, so the students always knew when to expect freshly marked books, and I have to say, having that routine made life so much easier!

9. If you DO have time at lunch, and it’s nice enough outside GO OUTSIDE TO EAT YOUR LUNCH! You don’t realize it, but actually spending the whole day in the school can really drag you down and if you’re stuck in there the whole day it can start to feel a bit like a prison. Even if you adore your job and the school more than anything in the world, no one should be cooped up in the same place all day long if they can avoid it!

10. Bring foods to snack on during the day. Running around like a chicken with your head cut off all day can cause your cortisol levels to go crazy, and your blood sugar may drop. If you’re the kind of person who tends to work through lunch, then you’re probably not having anything other than your morning chocolate bar, and I’m afraid that’s just not going to cut it! You need to keep your energy up! And since many schools don’t allow eating during lesson time, you’ve only got those few short minutes during change-over sometimes, so having snack food you can quickly pop in your mouth is a must!


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