Tutor Empowered to Rediscover Her Mojo | Marianna Beckwith

Moving from de-motivated to dynamic


Marianna's client works in a large FE college, teaching 16-18 year-olds. Many of these students have previously failed in their attempts to gain qualifications in other educational establishments, and, as a result, have become challenging in terms of behaviour. She  was asked to take on this class, teaching a subject she was not used to teaching, to a type of student of which she had little experience, although her personality is suited to the subject.

She was having problems with this particular class of young people, and had become so de-motivated by having to teach the group, that she had handed in her resignation. The manager of the department was reluctant to accept the resignation, as she was an excellent teacher.


To help her client regain her motivation, and if appropriate withdraw her resignation with the aim of becoming a top tutor  in the college.


Marianna met her client for a number of sessions, during which her client explained that the students did not listen, either to her, or to each other. She described the problems that the lack of listening skills caused:
  1. It meant that they were not able to progress with the work they were required to do towards their qualification 
  2. They were failing to work effectively as a team 
  3. They were unable to achieve aims and outcomes during the class 
  4. At the end of a session, they were unable to show any evidence of achievement 
The effect this had on her client was to make her doubt her own ability as a teacher. She was convinced that she was a bad teacher, and that it was all her fault that the lessons were not as effective as they should have been. She was also concerned that a new student to the group would be influenced negatively.

Together, they decided that she would start the session with an activity to re-visit group rules and expectations, which was appropriate, because of the new students.

Marianna sat in on the session, and observed from the sidelines how her client dealt with this class. She placed herself as an objective observer, and didn't take part in the class in any way. She made notes about what she observed for later feedback.

She gave her observations: firstly about all the things that her client had done well in the class. 
  1. She had dealt with poor behaviour and interruptions calmly 
  2. She had assigned the more dominant student as a scribe for the brainstorm session
  3. She had encouraged the students to come up with the very expectations that they were not currently meeting and list them as rules 
  4. She had reminded them of their rules when they moved from them during the session
She then spoke about the type of student in this group, and a variety of strategies that  could be used to retain their attention, and avoid the behaviour which was being so disruptive. 
  1. Giving each student paper to write down their ideas, and hold onto them, instead of shouting out over the others, and waiting until it was their turn 
  2. Setting up a Facebook page for the group to exchange ideas outside the class 
  3. Similarly, setting up a blog, via the College Moodle system 
  4. Expressing what she wanted them to do a little more succinctly, so as not to take up too much time; this way she would keep their attention 
  5. Persevering with stressing the acceptable boundaries during class time 
  6. Using the large studio space they held the class in to best advantage, by moving them out to the edges when they became disruptive 
  7. Varying tasks to incorporate kinaesthetic activities, to keep them learning in an active way


As a result of the sessions, Marianna's client realised that she now had some pragmatic approaches to resolve the situation. After trialling these  approaches and getting positive results she withdrew her resignation and  become enthusiastic about her role. 

And so

She has now developed the confidence to share her experiences with others in team meetings, putting forward suggestions to other tutors, for good practice, and taking an active part in college training sessions.

In addition she has now been approached by other departments to help with similar groups, as her methods have been so effective. She has sent several of them to be published on the staff intranet. She is now considering applying for a more senior position in the organisation, as she feels she has so much more to offer.

Marianna can be contacted on 07763 102994, her blog is Creative Coach