Alternative Education

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Edugator2016, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Edugator2016

    Edugator2016 New Member

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    Jul 8, 2018

    Hi All!

    I am getting ready to start my 2nd year of teaching. I went back to school in my 30s and graduated in December 2016, so I'm older than many new teachers. My degree is in agricultural education, so all of my education classes focused on teaching CTE/electives. I tested to be certified in 6-12 English as well, just in case there weren't any ag positions available. Good thing I did, because there weren't. I ended up teaching 8th grade English last year. It didn't go well. Knowing the content is not the same as being able to teach it. Classroom management was a challenge for me as well. I was going to teach science this year, but there were openings for alternative education, so I took one. I'm having trouble finding tips on how to teach these students. Most of the articles I can find on alternative ed, don't seem to be related to behavior. Either that or they just don't use that language when describing why the students are there. In my district, the kids in alternative ed are there because of their behavior in the mainstream classroom. That either means that they got written up too many times or in some cases, they are there after getting arrested and waiting to go to court. I think some are there after one strike for bringing cigarettes, alcohol or drugs to school. The students do their work on an online program; I have a full time para in the room, and classes are capped at 10 students. There will be 3 teachers. One will teach English and history; one will teach science and math, and one will teach electives. I asked to teach electives because of my degree and because I was given the choice. The kids will change classes every 2 hours. The para and I will monitor their progress on the online program and pull kids for one on one or small group instruction and supplementation as needed. I'm looking forward to the small classes and more time to develop relationships with my students. I think that will help with the behavior issues. I'm resisting the urge to be super strict, or go in with preconceived ideas about the students, since to be there at all, they clearly have had behavior issues in the past. I also learned last year that the stricter I got, the harder they pushed back. I don't want to be a pushover either. Anyone else teach in this area? Any tips? Resources? Thanks!
     
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  3. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2018

    @Linguist92021 is an experienced and effective alt ed teacher. Maybe she’ll have a moment to share some tips from her toolbox.
     
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  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2018

    I have written many, many posts about my epiphanies and AHA moments, successes and struggles. If you're interested in reading about it, the best thing to go is go to my profile (click on my name under the avatar) and there you can search threads I started, etc.

    But for now I just want to stay that with this population you do have to be super strict. You can't go wrong with that. They will respect you for it and will behave. They know how they're supposed to act, they just want to see what they can get away with. They're watching you like a hawk and make judgments based on what you enforce, allow and inconsistently deal with, and then they act accordingly.
    But, and this this very important, besides being super strict, you have to show that you care about these kids. You have to mean it. If you don't genuinely care about them, you're in the wrong setting, but if you do, and let it shine through, you will see success (after the many struggles)

    For example: kid is talking and you decide to move him away.
    He sees it as a punishment, that you're "trippin' over nothing" or that you're picking on him.
    You tell him: "I'm actually looking out for you and trying to keep you out of trouble. This seat is obviously not the best place for you, so by moving you I'm making sure you don't later on get kicked out and get in trouble." If he tries to argue then you say: "take this as a sign of me caring about you and your well being, but either way you don't have a choice other than respecting this decision and move seats now"
    This way you communicated the intention, but also didn't fall into to the trap and "overnurture" his feelings and let him know that your way is the way.
     
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  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2018

    @YoungTeacherGuy thank you for your confidence in me, sir !
     
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  6. Edugator2016

    Edugator2016 New Member

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    Jul 8, 2018

    Thanks Linguist.

    I was reading through some of your posts last night. I ended up watching a video on downing the duck. I saw signs of that behavior in some of my kids in my mainstream classroom last year, especially in a student who ended up in alt ed and ultimately being sent home to do his work with a homebound teacher because he couldn't behave even in the alt ed setting. I definitely care about these kids. It broke my heart last year to watch some of my kids doing things out of anger that ultimately worked against them. They thought they were punishing me, but were really only punishing themselves. My first step at showing them that is to decorate my classroom that right now looks like a prison.I also have to talked to the BRT at the school and find out if there are additional requirements for what rules I implement in my classroom. I was told that we will be starting the year with 15 kids, so my classes should be about 5 kids each. I feel like I can make more of a difference with so few kids. I was really frazzled trying to keep up with a total of 125 kids last year....anywhere from 18 to 25 in a given class. I didn't have time to get to know them as much as I'd liked with all of the content I had to get through. I'm looking forward to developing relationships with these kids and hopefully doing at least a little to counteract the messages their getting at home. I work in a very small district. We only have 1 high school, 1 middle school, and 5 elementary schools, plus a votech, but they only do CTEs over there. It's also a poor community, located very near several prisons. Many of my students have a parent who either works at the prison or is incarcerated there. Many only live in the community because of the family member in prison. I lost 2 kids last year when their dads got out of prison and the family moved back to wherever they lived before.

    I will look through more of your previous posts. You seem to have a wealth of information. Thank you so much!
     
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  7. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Jul 10, 2018 at 12:23 PM

    I spent the last 2 years teaching science at an alternative HS, and the superintendent gave me the best advice: "Don't Smile Till December". He meant to be very tough on the kids in the beginning of the year to establish a routine that they will follow. It takes time, but it works.
     
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  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jul 10, 2018 at 1:19 PM

    I'm in a year-round alternative school and love it! I'm definitely a "smile all the time if possible" kind of teacher, so when that look goes away, the students understand something is amiss. My favorite part of being in this setting is giving these kiddos a fresh start. I let them know I read their transcripts closely but try to avoid their discipline records (if they start skipping class, that goes out the door so I can get information on why they're truant). Also, I give them a lot of choices in how they want to learn, so long as they give it their best shot. Some of my students are reading a book for the first time in their lives, while others are tackling how to use English in the workplace.

    You'll find the right balance for your classroom. Don't be afraid to try new things when your first attempts don't pan out.
     
  9. Edugator2016

    Edugator2016 New Member

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    Jul 10, 2018 at 1:56 PM

    Thanks. I wanted to take this job to make a difference. Generally, the kids that get sent to the alternative school in my district are there for 45 days and then they go back to mainstream classrooms. If they do something serious enough at alternative school, they go home to be taught by a homebound teacher. I want to help them learn to regulate their behaviors so they don't end up kicked out of school and dropping out. I don't want to go in seeing them as "bad kids". I'll just have to see what they tell me during preplanning. I'm really hoping to get electives so I can do hands on stuff with them to supplement their computer work. If they're just sitting there doing work on computers all day every day, we're all going to be bored and cranky.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 11, 2018 at 9:42 AM

    One important thing to do is separate the kid from the crime. In juvenile hall we didn't know why they were with us. And it made sense. Our job is to educate the child, regardless what laws they broke. Sure I've had moments when I thought about which kid had brutally raped women, or killed someone, but then I let it go. There were obvious signs of students seriously disliking women and had a hard time following my directions, trying to see if they could "turn me" (obvious pimps, etc). but somehow I learned to separate the two. This is when being very strict, not personal at all works really well.
    At my current school the principal was more forthcoming, she would share information with us if it was beneficial in understanding the student, for example their homelife, their upbringing, etc. Boy , there are a lot of extremely dysfunctional families out there, no wonder the kid has a hard time with society.
    We had an ED student (about 17-18, sure looked like 23), and he was sweet, although very moody. One day I stood there wiping off his tears. My principal later told me "that is an extremely dangerous student to have in the classroom". I was confused and kinda upset (thinking "gee, than for telling me now"), but then I just let it go.
    Who cares what they did, what matters is how they are in my classroom and how I can help them. No judgment.
     
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  11. JJC_Ron

    JJC_Ron New Member

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    Jul 12, 2018 at 12:36 AM

    Hello Linguist,
    I am a Juvenile Justice Commissioner in the SF Bay area. Reading your posts on this forum, you seem to articulate great wisdom about education system and principles for incarcerated juveniles. Our commission is embarking on a study of the education system in our county's juvenile incarceration facilities. Might I contact you to compare you and your county's system with ours?

    Please keep up the good work.
    JJC_Ron
     

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