The Disruptive GirlJanuary 26, 2007
I described Jordan, the archetype of a naughty boy, in a previous entry.
The problem girl, Chantel, is very different. Chantel is older and studying for her GCSEs. She wears make up and has modified her school uniform dramatically through a variety of accessories and by losing her tie at break. She has a large group of friends who nevertheless seem quite close-knit. They have a strict hierarchy in which each girl has a place signified largely by volume. Chantel’s position is as the leader and this is signified by her greater decibel level.
This friendship group is very dedicated to the discussion of make-up, television, clothes, parties, what Darren said to Chelsie, and who committed what sexual acts with whom. Chantel’s major issue with teachers is their expectation that these conversations will cease during lessons. Anything that prevents the conversation, (eg. a seating plan, a request for silence, the setting of work) is a sign that you have failed to respect Chantel’s world. It is particularly grating if it is a subject where Chantel is not particularly gifted and she risks achieving less than other lower status members of the pack.
The first priority for Chantel is to establish dominance in class by provoking a confrontation. Not working, and sitting, mirror in hand, doing her make up is a good first strategy. If this doesn’t work then other back ups include: doing her Design homework (unless it’s a design lesson); asking to leave the room to get something from a child in another class; declaring undying hatred for the subject; complaining that somebody else in the room smells, (accompanied by the extensive and hazardous use of aerosols); or accusing a girl who isn’t in the gang of giving blow jobs to a skanky boy in Year 11.
Once the confrontation has been engineered then the argument begins.
You see the thing is:
She shouldn’t have to work at school, she’s going to be a beautician.
She’s just doing her make up, it’s not big deal.
Her Design homework is really important.
Your subject is gay.
Darren really does smell (and so do you), and unless toxic amounts of deodorant are sprayed into the air she will be sick.
And Nicola is a slag.
And she can’t believe that any teacher thinks she shouldn’t be saying this, they should chill out, get a life, get out of her face, and stop being “puh-fetick”.
And now the routine has begun. Techniques honed over years of bullying other girls are now to be used against an adult. You are the pathetic teacher who has given her a detention “for nuffink”. She is not going to work in your lesson ever again. Neither are her friends who also hate you. Any complaint you make about her is a lie and all her friends will back her up. You don’t understand the rules. Everybody else lets her do her make up, talk to her friends, listen to her i-Pod, text message her mother in lessons, turn up twenty minutes late and tear up her book. Nobody believes you anyway as you are a rubbish teacher, everybody says so even other members of staff. She (and her friends) are not going to work, if you get in their way they’re going to shout at you, or walk out, and they’re all going to do it because you are in the wrong.
Of coiurse, it’s all your fault, she doesn’t have a problem with anybody else. You are the only one that gives her detentions or complains about her behaviour.
Except for Mr Canning.
And the teacher who taught her your subject last year.
And Miss Everitt. And Mr Peters
But other than that she’s fine for all her other teachers. And it’s all your fault, you can’t teach and your breath smells. And even if you manage to get her moved into another class she will come to your classroom anyway to talk to her friends and verbally abuse you.
There’s one benefit to Chantel’s routine. You can test the quality of a school. In a good school then somebody in authority (be it Senior Management or a good Year Head) will get to the gang and threaten them with parental involvement if they ever cross you again. Chantel, for sake of her position, will comply with this request. After all the fact that Chantel has to be asked to behave by somebody important just shows what an important person she is. In a bad school you will be told it’s your fault for having a bad relationship with the students and you can do nothing but count the days until Chantel leaves at the end of year 11 (or becomes a perpetual truant). The implicit message from SMT in these cases is clear:
Chantel’s right. You are puh-fetick.