Frustrated and it's only January!!!

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by merigold78, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. merigold78

    merigold78 Cohort

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    Jan 18, 2013

    I have not posted on these boards in forever, but am hoping to get some help now. I just returned from an extended maternity leave (14 weeks) and am REALLY struggling with my class. They were not perfect angels at the beginning of the year - and I have been told that my sub. did an excellent job (which I believe) - but the classes' overall behavior has been utterly and totally ridiculous since I returned after the Christmas break.

    One of my biggest issues is that I am very boy heavy - 15 out of my 23 friends are little guys. I was told that this is "just the way it is" this year but only myself and one other teacher are this unbalanced. She & I are both known for our strong classroom mgmt skills - go figure! My next issue, though, is the talking - which I have always considered "developmental" for first graders - but it is way beyond what I consider acceptable. Continuous (even while I'm trying to give direc.) & very, very loud. I have tried praise for the ones who are being quiet workers along with small rewards like candy, etc. I also started a class cotton ball jar. I now feel like I am rewarding the same kids over and over again (which is fine, but not really changing the behavior of the ones who need it) and the cotton ball jar excitement wore off after about 2 days :(. I am considering starting table points (tally marks everytime the entire table is listening, working quietly, etc.) next week to create some friendly competition for good behavior. I thought this might be more helpful for all the boys that I have......

    The last issue is a complete & total inability to follow simple instructions with talking/becoming distracted by other children, things in their desks, etc. In my 10 years of teaching, I have honestly never seen anything like this. I have tried a lot of "If you can hear my voice, clap three times, etc.", pattern clapping, etc. & it has improved somewhat. I guess the bigger issue is just getting them to follow the directions without starting to talk every single time I ask them to do something :(.

    I am so frustrated by all of this that I'm honestly considering a career change. I have a new baby at home (along with the sweetest 3 yr old ever :)) but he is sleeping through the night so rest is not an issue. I try & go in "fresh" every morning but by 2:00 I am ready to pull my hair out!! I am wondering if anyone may have any helpful suggestions for the talking and/or lack of following directions without starting to talk. Thanks so much for your help.
     
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  3. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jan 19, 2013

    Well you have only been back for a couple weeks. The children had most of the year with a different person. Them being off as far as behavior does not seem very surprising. I tend not to give candy the buy in it creates is short lived. You might take a look at Tools for Teaching or Whole Brain management styles. I also would advise sticking with one thing. The children when you start a new method will test it. They will comply to start with and then try and push the limits to see if you back down, every time you back down and start a brand new thing the more they test. I would advise looking at it as September and set your expectations and keep practicing over and over till they start seeming like they have a better understanding of the expectations.
     
  4. merigold78

    merigold78 Cohort

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    Jan 19, 2013

    Thanks for the advice, emonkey. I think you have a good point about choosing one thing + sticking to it :). I have definitely been jumping around a lot lately (because nothing seems to work :() but maybe I just need to be a little more consistent....
     
  5. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I have that class of boys....
    I started back after vacation just drilling procedures and having them redo it if they didn't do it right.
    For example, if the group comes to the floor for a lesson and everyone is noisy, I send them back to their desks and we do it over...as many times as it takes. I can't start teaching content if I don't have their attention.
    Take this week and practice procedures, the way YOU want them to do things.
    I would also have them "check in" after you give a direction. I have the children put their thumbs up if they know what to do, to the side if they think they know what to do, and down if they have a question. If they had their thumb up and ask me what to do later, I tell them that they had their thumb up and knew what to do....they get very honest about this, and it saves me from repeating directions over and over.
     
  6. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jan 19, 2013

    Well, first of all, know that you are not alone. You just described my class as well!! I agree that you need to find one thing and do it consistently. They are going through a huge adjustment as well and need to know exactly what you are about. Re-teach your routines and expectations. Some of my students are STILL practicing simple routines and it just doesn't seem to be sinking in. They may just be a really immature group. Doesn't make it any easier for you, but you may just be having one of 'those' years.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I think we posted at the same time :lol: and it sounds like you are another teacher with a similar group! I love your "check in" -we do it after a task to self-evaluate our behavior, but it might be helpful to do it before, too!
     
  8. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2013


    :agreed:

    This year I've been doing thumbs up when they've put their name on their paper or other times when I need to know if they are ready to move on, or understand. It helps to keep them engaged.

    This is the first year in I don't know how many years that I am balanced! I actually have more girls then boys & that has never happened before. I have always had more boys then girls & usually way more boys!
     
  9. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jan 19, 2013

    Yes, I'll tell them to point to where they wrote their name, point to question #1, etc.

    The less down time they have the better!
     
  10. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I have them put their pencil up when they have finished writing their name on the paper. Then they can't start banging on things with it, and I can see who is ready for the next direction.:D
     
  11. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I have had that class before... and worse!

    I agree that you need to be VERY consistent and that you need to spend some time teaching and drilling your expectations, just as you would at the beginning of school.

    A couple of things I do:

    "I will know when everyone has completed "X" because they will put their pencils down and look at me."

    After giving directions, I will generally look around and call on someone (generally someone I know is easily distracted) and have him/her repeat the directions.

    I do table points... sort of. I have laminated pages for each table on my dry erase board, and I use a dry erase marker to write check marks on them. At the end of each month, the table with the most checks gets a treat. In November, the treat was an entire booklet of free Wendy's frostie coupons each (my sister's best friend is a district manager). December's treat was a book. They never know what it will be (it has been something as little as fake tattoos before - they still love it!).
     
  12. Tek

    Tek Companion

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    Jan 22, 2013

    Meri,
    I had an "expert" retired teacher come into my room last week to observe me. I am struggling with the same things you are. I am a first year teacher BTW. But I think many 1st grade teachers have these similar problems too. 6 and 7 year old kids will be 6 and 7 year old kids.

    I was giving directions while 5-6 kids maybe weren't really paying close attention. I just carried on because I got rattled (it was a surprise visit) and didn't want to address the pink elephant in the room.

    They had also just come from a long 40 minute chapel, lol.

    Bad timing but no excuses on my part. I should have stopped instruction and wait for all eyes on me.

    The observer told me I should not go on until everyone is looking at me with their hands free. It was so simple, but her advice resonated with me. After lunch, I talked with my class about it, and introduced "1, 2" they say "eyes on you!" I know some teachers do "1, 2, 3, eyes on me" and then the kids say "1, 2, eyes on you." But so far, I like the quickness of "1, 2" and then "eyes on you!" Whatever works, I guess!

    Anyway, it's so simple, but it made such a huge difference. After our talk about the importance of paying attention to the teacher, they seemed to whip up better. Sometimes you just need to explicitly tell them you're disappointed and hurt when they don't pay attention, because it's disrespectful to you and EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT, they will not learn or mature as fast as they can (of course, you put it in age appropriate terms).

    Usually, they will want to please you after hearing something like that. And then it becomes a case of reinforcement.

    Tomorrow is a new day. Use it in a morning meeting I'd suggest, and see how that goes.
     

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