Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 18 Feb 2010

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

Hillary's Advice

First of all, donít 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 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 fool-proof 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 Ė if your mentor is no use, go to your head 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.