Behavior Management in inner city

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Elvira, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Elvira

    Elvira Rookie

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    Jan 30, 2013

    Hello everyone :) I am studying to be a teacher but haven't had any placements. I will probably get placed for student teaching in an inner city high school (I teach Spanish) and I am really scared. I don't know how to deal with behavior management; my school never really talked about it much, unfortunately.

    I come from a rural school where the kids, in retrospect, were pretty well behaved. My friends from the inner-city say that there were fights literally ever day (We hardly had fights at my old high school). One teacher had to go to the hospital because some student threw a book at her.

    What groundwork do I need to set so that students don't misbehave from the start? What kind of rules do I have to have in place? What should I do and not do in terms of my demeanor with them? I've seen some Spanish teachers used cues like *ojos aquí* (eyes here) when students aren't focused. Are verbal cues effective? I have also seen teachers call on students that are not focused to try to 'bring them back'. Proximity control seems useful too.

    Just, what happens if I can't get students to stop talking? What if a student outright disrespects me or makes a snarky comment? I've read that in a lot of the inner city schools, the principal's office is so overflooded with behavioral concerns that misbehaving kids just get send back to the classroom. What do I do when a student refuses to participate?

    Sorry for the slew of questions, but I just don't feel very prepared. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! ;) i really want to teach Spanish and don't want to spend more time managing behavior than teaching!

    EDIT: My old Spanish teacher said that the key to behavior management is to 'not give them time to misbehave'. Is this true?

    Also, I am a bit apprehensive because I would love to do interactive and group activites with the kids. However, I'm afraid of these spiraling out of control quickly!
     
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  3. irishman178

    irishman178 New Member

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    Jan 30, 2013


    I don't know how helpful I am because I am just a student teacher, but I have had a few field experiences in inner city schools that were deemed one of the worst in the state, so I'll give you what I found out.

    From what I saw, the kids are never as bad as advertized. There will be issues, but in my two observations there was never a fight or major conflict, and I think there was only 1 when I wasn't there during my placement. I saw a study that while it is slightly higher in inner city schools, its more the size leads to more reporting than anything. My one teacher was great because she had English language learners and was great at adapting lessons towards their learning levels while also covering the material. I believe the key, from my limited experience, is to keep them engaged and relate to them in anyway possible. Also, if there is an issue do your best to keep it in the room. Usually theres a student or two that wants the attention of being the troublemaker, but if you can keep them in the room and talk with them, the behavior can be stopped. Also, treat them with respect, a lot of the time, these students do receive a lot of attention or respect outside of school, so doing that can help you build a better report.

    I hope thats a start, maybe a more seasoned teacher can give you better detail
     
  4. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    Jan 30, 2013

    Your old Spanish teacher is wise. Students are far more compliant at the beginning of school, and they crave routine. If you don't give them the routine you want them to adopt, they will create the one they want, and you can bet their routines don't include engaging in academic discussion and politely asking permission to get up. ;)

    I teach inner-city high school gang bangers. They're remarkably respectful. I have noticed that they will follow your lead. If you present yourself as expecting them to misbehave and it's your job to "drop the hammer" on them, they will misbehave and you will have to drop the hammer on them. If you start out trying to be their friend, they will expect you to let them do what they want, just like their friends do. But if you present yourself as the one in charge and comfortable being in charge, and have the lesson ready to go every day without fail, then they will do things your way ... for the most part ... after testing you to make sure you're for real.
     
  5. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Jan 30, 2013

    Some things you're going to have to ignore, but......

    "My old Spanish teacher said that the key to behavior management is to 'not give them time to misbehave'. Is this true?"

    Yes....When something serious enough occurs: "Get out of my room......now!"

    Also, I am a bit apprehensive because I would love to do interactive and group activities with the kids. However, I'm afraid of these spiraling out of control quickly!


    My suggestion would be to EXTREMELY limited with the artsy-craftsy teaching techniques. CONTROL should be your first priority. Structured instruction, completing a worksheet as a class, taking notes off of the board, teacher-centered activities work. Even if some nit-wit wants to get cute and say "You're being sooooo old-fashioned" (or some nonsense like that - and that should tell you all you need to know about THEM). Too bad. You can't educate if you don't have control.

    ;)
     
  6. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Jan 30, 2013

    :yeahthat:

    In my experience, if you treat the kids with respect, you will have a MUCH better chance at getting them to work. If you show them you care about them, they will WANT to work for you. At the same time, you have to have expectations. You have to believe that they can and will meet those expectations, but be ready with consequences if they don't. You have to believe in second chances - don't write a kid off if he/she has a bad day and tells you to F*** off. When he comes back to your classroom (after an appropriate conseequence), you go right back to respecting and believing in that kid.

    With group work, you have to be careful. If you have a gang problem, group work is going to cause fights. Partner work might be better, because it's more controlled and you can be specific about who gets to work with eachother. I would hold off on any sort of group/partner activities until you have a really strong sense of your kids personalities and if they are capable of doing those activities without going nuts.

    I agree - keep them busy. OVER plan. Set a timer (you have 5 minutes to complete the first three sentences) check in. Set timer again ( you have 5 more minutes to complete the next three sentences). etc.
     
  7. Elvira

    Elvira Rookie

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    Jan 30, 2013

    I never really thought about the group activities and the complications of them. Hopefully partner activities will suffice! It's just that it's so important in Spanish to actually USE the language in a communicative context. My old Spanish teacher had notes and quiet activities, but we also did a ton of educational games. (I loved doing group skits in her class). I didn't really realize how I would have to modify these activties for an inne ctiy class.

    Thanks for all the advice :)

    Should I say something like, "I don't think there will be problems with behavior because you are mature young adults. But here are some ground rules so that the classroom can run efficiently and you can learn as much possible"

    I think respect is a huge thing as well. My Spanish teacher amazed me because even the "bad" kids in her class behaved very well. ;) i think it was because she truly respected them and didn't write them off.
     
  8. DKM

    DKM Rookie

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    Bless your heart. I used to teach inner-city for two years and went to teach in a rural area. It is high level stress. If you can't handle high level stress... by any means, do NOT take an inner-city teacher assignment.

    I taught in alternative school and in DC and didn't have fights happen everyday. This is an exaggeration.

    The question you have to ask yourself is what caused the student to want to do this? Most likely, the teacher had to provoke something and the student didn't respond to it well. That is clearly a respect issue.

    You MUST be consistent no matter what. Your consequences must mean business. I use five rules that are very easy to remember:

    1. Follow Directions
    2.Raise Your Hand Before Speaking Or Leaving Your Seat
    3. Respect Your Classmates And Your Teacher
    4. Keep Hands, Feet, And Objects To Yourself
    5. All electronic devices must be turned off.

    DO be consistent. When you tell them you are going to do something, you follow through it. Your words are golden. DO be reflective when a lesson activity doesn't work.

    DON'T lose your temper or control over your emotions. Kids are bloodhounds at sniffing out emotions by the way you look at them, how you use your tone at them when speaking to them, and the way you stand. Some kids like to make it into a game of getting under your skin and inner-city kids are VERY testy. Most of them come from broken homes where they never had a positive adult figure and were spoken to negatively. And whatever you do... DON'T beat yourself up when things don't go your way- reteach and modify skills in another way if the first attempt doesn't work. NEVER lower your expectations.

    I use this awesome website as a resource for classroom management control:
    www.SmartClassroomManagement.com

    This blogger is excellent at giving classroom management tips that I subscribe to his site. You are right- principals will send kids back to the classroom if the problems are minor. You also don't want to send them unless it's very severe because it undermines your authority power. The kid will see this move as you don't have enough authority power and they lose respect for you. At times, it is best to handle the problems in your classroom before it reaches the principal's office unless it's something VERY severe (fighting, weapons, etc).

    Sorry... I don't agree with this. If you let it continue, you send the kid a message that you are not consistent and that it is acceptable to use that language. Not doing anything about it shows the kid that you are powerless. I would look at consequences that would be effective.
     
  9. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    i have to agree with the last post about the inappropriate language. you can discuss with the kid that even if he (or she) is just having a bad day, there are still rules to follow and unfortunately there are consequences. However, this does not mean the kid is a bad kid.

    If you are going to do activities, make sure they are structured!! plan for everything. also, i use a timer in smart board tools and time each part of the lesson. I keep is visible so the students know how much time is left. I have seen an improvement in students staying on task.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Since you will be a student teacher, you should look to your cooperating teacher for advice. It's very likely that he or she will already have "groundwork" in place, and you should find a way to work within whatever system is already there.

    My biggest suggestions for working with inner-city students are....

    Keep your cool.
    Be consistent.
    Handle behaviors and discipline issues privately whenever possible.
    Be reasonable and flexible (but not a doormat).
    Remember that you are the teacher, not their peer. Do not get caught up in their drama. Don't argue or have power struggles with them.
    Get used to using the "broken record" technique.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I do agree with this. You can't hold grudges. Even if a kid has a bad day, or even lots of bad days, you still have to treat each day as a new day. Say good morning and smile (don't be fake about it), and do your best to help the student understand that what happened yesterday is in the past. Sometimes it's best to have a clear conversation about this: "Betty Lou, I know that yesterday we had a rough day. I'm hoping that today can be a better day. Are you willing to try for a better day today? What can we, both of us, do to make that happen?" In my experience, most students respond positively (or at least neutrally) to that.
     
  12. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    I did say give a consequence. I'm just saying AFTER the consequence, when that kid comes back to your class (after their detention/suspension/whatever), let them know that they can try again and do better. I've known a lot of teachers who automatically write a kid off as a trouble-maker after one bad incident. Then the kids shut down and they are indeed trouble makers. I've also known teachers who give their kids chances to improve, and the kids rise to the occasion. That's all I'm saying - don't write kids off. Yes, definitely, don't let them get away with it, but after they've served their time, give them another chance.
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    I think it is best to have a clear plan. I highly suggest getting the book Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones. It is excellent in classroom management and more. I do agree that each day is a new day and to not hold a grudge. Excellent advice. :)
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Agree with all of the previous advice. Something I think I will try next year:

    If you're planning a discussion or group activity, REALLY lay out a set routine you want to follow for the rest of the year for those types of discussions.

    Plan a back-up activity for the first few times.

    Allow them to engage in the activity according to your preset rules and procedure, BUT be ready to stop the entire thing and seamlessly move to your back-up activity.

    The trick: don't guilt them or tell them "since we can't follow the rules, blah, blah blah".

    Just tell them, "alright, we tried it out. There were some problems. Some things I noticed were that: blah, blah blah. Next time, what do you think we should do instead of: blah blah blah -behaviors you don't want-. Okay, instead of the discussion today we'll do this *alternate activity* instead, please remember the rules for the discussion in the future."

    Tips: Don't make the alternate activity more fun than the discussion.
    Don't get too disappointed if you have to cancel a discussion that you planned a lot for. Just move into the alternate activity.
    Have a contingency plan if you have just one or two students who aren't engaging in the discussion (i.e. give them a choice to stay and follow the rules in the discussion, or take quiet independent work to another teachers classroom).
    Expect to probably have to end the discussion early the first few times, and see the time on task for discussions increase, until they get it down.

    Sometimes, when you think the kids understand the rules, all of a sudden they won't cooperate with the discussion, so always have a back-up plan, even late into the year. Sometimes they just have bad days. But always give them a second chance. They can do it, but let them know what went wrong and what they need to change.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    I think she meant "don't write the kid off" like treating them like a lost cause rather than "don't write the kid up" like sending them to the P's office.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    A lot of great advice given here.
    The main thing is to have the teacher-personality the students will respect and probably like:
    - strict but reasonable
    - flexible within means: give chances, but not too much. Don't be a push over, but be understanding if someone is having a rough day.
    - Be consistent and fair: enforce the rules each time and the same way with every one.
    - I found that the racism-issue is huge. Most of my students are Latino. If you give an unfair chance to a white kid, they will label you a racist and unfair, and you lost them forever. If conversations come up about the black/white issues in America, they will intently listen to your opinion, and at the slightest sound of bias / prejudice they will write you off. I love having these conversations with them.
    They love to try to blame things on racism (pull the race card) just to see a reaction. It's a huge deal for them. These kids have been discriminated against already, the non-white students racially, the white students have at least faced judgment based on academic under-achievement, associations, gang-affiliation, poverty, etc. So they want to know which side you stand.
    - getting to know them is probably even more important than with other students. If they know you care about them as human beings, and not just trying to shove down the lesson on their throat, they will accept you as authority figure, respect you and will comply with your requests.
    I have seen plenty of evidence of the fact that knowing your students will work for you. When I subbed at a community school recently, half of the students knew me. They didn't try to test me, had no prblems with them, the others tried the usual ways to misbehave to see what I would do about it, or just tried to figure me out through various 'tests'.
    at one of the schools, where I have been working 80 % of the time for the past year and a half, there are 5 classes, 2 of which I hardly ever see. When I have to sub in these classes, it's so much harder. I 'm not accepted by all the students, as I am in the other classes.
     
  17. I<3Math!

    I<3Math! Rookie

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    Having done my student teaching in a very urban low performing school, I would say the most important tool you have is respect. On my first day on student teaching, I did a introduction of myself with a interesting activity, which made the students aware of my expectations. I wrote words (respect, mediocrity, and unfortunately i cant remember the third) on an index card, and handed them out to random students. Surprisingly it kept them engaged although it was so simple; it was middle school. I made the student read the definition of the word and then i explained how it applied to my expectation of them.

    Respect is the most important thing that you can do with these kids. Show them that it is a two way street. Something that is earned. They knew that if they showed respect, they would get respect. Once they had that understanding I would occasionally reveal something about myself, like my favorite tv show or movie, to help build a relationship with them. This helped when I would have a student who had a bad day and was disruptive, because the class would reprimand them.

    Don't immediately cross off fun activities until you are certain that they can't handle it. Size them up first, see how they behave. I love using technology in the class so students were on their best behavior because they knew if they weren't I wouldn't use it.
     

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