Help/Advise... 2nd year blues and exasperation

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by Tek, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2013

    My first year was rough, but I survived. I had a notoriously difficult class, but I thought I learned a lot and for the most part, the kids got something positive out of it, although I wasn't able to reach everyone like I would have wanted.

    Anyway, my 2nd year started well, but is quickly spiraling into a nightmare. About a month ago, a couple of my students has picked up on this bad habit of shouting "WHY YOU LAUGHING!" or "WHY YOU SMILING?!" whenever I smile or start to chuckle. It has annoyed me greatly. There's 4-5 of them, and at times you can see them looking to find ways to make me smile/laugh so they can shout that annoying question in my face. It is extremely disrespectful and I know it wouldn't stand for other teachers. However, perhaps I was too soft on them to start off with. There is no fear on their part and at times, a few of the students are so rowdy and out of control that the classroom is chaotic. Beyond normal 1st grade noise level.

    One girl in particular is making my life miserable. When she was out for 2 days I could actually TEACH. I have had talks with her and a parent conference, but things just always go back to normal after a day or two. I feel guilty for saying this, but I will not be sad the day she leaves me.

    I admit I smile/giggle too much, and there are times where the students do their idiosyncrasies at the same time, and I'll just smile/chuckle at the scene. For example, during the spelling test when the same student asks for a repeat, despite my saying it 3-4x slowly in front of them, while another student picks their nose and another one answers my rhetorical questions after we've talked about them being answered in your own head, not out loud.

    I'd smile, and a few of the girls will gang up going WHY YOU SMILING! and the class is lost.

    Today was particularly frustrating because I felt I had to post here for counsel. Today was actually... miserable. In the morning I smiled at something amusing, and the same students got on my case despite our repeated private talks and parent conferences. This threw my class/day off, and the good students you could see were actually annoyed at the loud classroom. I was angry because whatever I did to put out the fire didn't seem to work. This one girl in particular just has NO fear of me. I don't want to resort to screaming, but I'm afraid I've resorted to a form of nagging. I try to praise, but a lot of times I'm nagging too. It's draining and it's draining the fun out of the classroom.

    One girl also repeatedly asks "When is lunch? When can I go home?" and it's INCREDIBLY annoying. We've talked about it, but like most things, it's a habit that I figure will last the year. It makes me feel bad because it makes me feel like the class is boring. Also, when she asks it, it's like the others agree and it's suddenly brought to their attention that they want to go to lunch/home too.

    Today, I had my sweetest student ask when she could go home, and that sunk my heart. Maybe that's why I never felt more miserable than today. The students are running the classroom to a certain degree... no matter what I do one or two is rebellious, and causing a disruption, making the rest of the class laugh/go off track. I do our quiet sign and all that, but taking 30 seconds holding my hand up gets tiring and it's just not what I dreamt when I became a teacher.

    Whenever we start something academic, I hear one or two moan, and then this spurs several others to moan. It's so annoying, and has made teaching frustrating and not rewarding at all.

    Maybe I'm not prepping enough, or devoting enough of my mental energies toward my craft. Maybe I need to retweak some things... like anticipatory sets rather than "Today in math we will do ___ (*cue student groan*)"

    All I know is, I don't want the rest of the school year to follow this suit. I think I can survive the next 4 days, but there definitely needs to be a change when we come back in January and go through May.

    I cannot keep living like this. Teaching has become miserable and frustrating, and it's largely because of 2-3 students whose behavior has been out of control. I try to look for the good but honestly, sometimes it's REALLY hard to find any. For example, this girl lied last year in Kindergarten that her dad died, and this year she fibbed to me that her grandmother died. Thank God academically she is OK to above average -- she is just easily distracted and very, very immature. It's making me want to pull my hair out.

    Next year, I'm going to be a lot more firm from day 1. Maybe that's why they say it usually begins to click by year 3. Year 1 is a mad science experiment, year 2 is refining, but year 3 is truly seeing your mistakes from years 1 and 2 and go about rectifying them.

    Sorry I rambled. Thanks in advance.
    I really just want the "WHY YOU SMILING/LAUGHING!?" questions to end, but they never do. What else can I do? I do know I am too nice, because that sort of behavior wouldn't fly with any other teacher. She'd come up to me and POINT, being extremely disrespectful. Ahhhhhh. *breathes*
     
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  3. 1st-yr-teacher

    1st-yr-teacher Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2013

    I'm sorry you are having a tough go at it. I know it's frustrating but I imagine you will feel a little better when you get to break.

    What kind of consequences do you have in place for students when they are being disrespectful?

    I'm in my 8th year teaching and there are days where I feel frustrated with classroom management things but I can say I am leap years away from my first few years teaching.
     
  4. mcf5157

    mcf5157 Rookie

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    Dec 16, 2013

    You need to be sure to have established classroom rules, policies, and procedures to serve as guidelines for their behavior. Explicit instruction is something I am sure you did with this promptly into the new school year.

    When students perform undesirable behavior, you can remind them they are breaking the rule and refer to the rules listed at the front of the class. Try some verbal and non-verbal interventions. Maybe try a behavior chart or a TS chart. If needed, give the students logical consequences.

    One thing I think is helpful is constantly setting expectations for behavior and participation. Before each lesson, discussion, transition etc... I will let students know how they can contribute etc.


    Best!
     
  5. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I use a color chart system where everyone starts out on green (ready to learn) and from there they can either move up (with good choices made on their own) or move down (with bad choices).

    She's been on yellow and orange a lot. She is just really disrespectful, and not just to me but to other adults as well. She has missed some recess and doesn't seem to care.

    She repeatedly comments "I can't control myself!" She is goofy to a detriment.

    You are right though, I can review desired behavior and conduct prior to a lesson and reset the bar. I'm going to have to, if I want my students to succeed and for the year to be successful, really. Today was a total throw-away day. I went home early and purposely graded their work for a few hours. I have to be quicker on getting their work back to them, rather than waiting for the weekend to grade and Monday to hand back. Hopefully being more on top of their work and giving fresh feedback will help. One thing is for sure, spending a couple hours grading their work today has helped me focus more on tomorrow, rather than if I were to take those two hours watching a movie or hanging out with friends.

    We'll see how tomorrow goes!
     
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 17, 2013

    A month ago? That was a test. Since not much happened a little problem has grown - which is why discipline is about the little problems - into a big one.

    Consider a discipline plan. It's too late to be caught off guard while on your feet and try to figure out what to do. Like a lesson plan a discipline plan is done in advance. At home when you are calm jot down all the stuff that is bothering you - brainstorm until you get to about a dozen. Prioritize these from "most aggravating" to least. This will be the order in which you will "teach" the rule or procedure just like a regular academic lesson. The lesson will take precedent over any academic work with the kids practicing over and over until they get it right. Be prepared for multiple practices and stay calm throughout.

    Before each content lesson begin with a review and practice of the rule. Do not wait for a problem to start. Once delivering content and, if a rule is broken, be prepared to stop abruptly, stay calm, switch to discipline and reteach the rule from modeling to guided practice to teach your partner.

    Being in control is about students' perception that you "mean business" and are someone to take seriously. They watch to see what is important to you. They can tell whether discipline is important in this class by the time you spend on it. Majority of students like a teacher who establishes boundaries and runs a tight ship. Building relationship or being "nice" is, for the most part, a by-product of having a good management plan. If by "firm" you mean boundaries, consistency, discipline before instruction then, by all means, be firm. Sloppy, discipline when I feel like it, reactionary management are something else.
     
  7. AlexaD

    AlexaD Companion

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    Dec 17, 2013

    You have to shut down the "Why are you smiling?!" bit with a consequence. Every single time, no exceptions. The kids, right now, know that saying that is pushing your buttons and they feel a bit of power doing it to you. They are getting away with it. You have to show them that YOU are the boss, that it is NOT acceptable in your classroom, and that if they decide to make a bad choice by saying it and disrupting your room, they will receive a consequence. More than just clipping down, too. Eventually, they will get the message that it isn't worth it anymore.

    Have a whole day where curriculum is secondary and putting your new and improved discipline plan is first. Essentially, start over. You are also going to have to be a lot firmer with them. Come in very stern so they know things are different with you. Lay out the new rules. And then as SOON as one is broken (and they will try you) issue a consequence every time. Once they see you mean business in that area, things will improve. Good luck!
     
  8. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Dec 17, 2013

    A good idea would be to use more of a positive reinforcement type of classroom management. I found that when the kids are working up towards a goal of earning something, it's much more effective than working to stay on a level and not get moved down. The kids get excited about it and it's a great way to model working towards a goal.
    It doesn't need to be that complicated. What worked very well for me when I taught second grade was to have a chart with every student's name on it. When students were doing a good job (and it's a great motivator/reminder for good behavior to say every so often things like, "let me see who is remembering to raise their hand, be polite to the teacher etc. so I can give them a point") they'd get a point on the chart. At the end of the day, every student who had earned a certain amount of points (I think it was either 3 or 5) got a little prize. This made a huge difference. It was in an inner city school, too, so I can relate to the behavior issues you describe. That being said, you absolutely have to be consistent, and if a kid doesn't show the right kind of behavior they simply don't earn points...you can't let yourself feel bad about it.
     
  9. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I use a color system similar to what you mentioned. I would have a talk about acceptable behavior first thing tomorrow, and then start moving the students names down religiously when they break the rules. Ask Why you smiling? Clip down. Ask when is lunch or when is recess? Clip down. Talk during a lesson? Clip down. On the same coin, let students who are being good clip up throughout the day as well. At the end of the day, reward anyone who is on a "good color" and give some type of consequence to those on a "bad color." The color chart can work really well if its enforced.

    I know its hard not to smile/laugh at some of the "bad" behaviors they do, because sometimes they are just plain funny. However, it sounds like these are the type of kids who if you give an inch, will take a mile. Try not to laugh at their misbehaviors, because it sounds like now they are doing it to show off.
     
  10. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Dec 17, 2013

    It's time to re-teach expectations and clamp down on the rude, disrespectful behavior. Yelling at you should NOT be tolerated and there needs to be more than just a moving of the clip. There needs to be a meaningful, consistent consequence every time that behavior occurs.
     
  11. unity

    unity Rookie

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    Dec 17, 2013

    I totally feel you because that age can be very loud, active and unruly.
    I second the call for positive reinforcement-kids at that age usually still want to please the teacher.
    What about table points for the tables that can each be silent for 2, then 3, then 5 minutes? If anyone shouts the annoying phrase, their table loses a point. The table with the most points can earn the right to pick a class game like heads up 7 up. The silent game can be played until you get 10 winners, who get a sticker or the like. You can even police yourself-if you laugh, the class gets a point, if someone says the annoying phrase, they get a point. Then you can offer marbles towards a class party for how many points they get. Once they get somewhat under control, you may want to see if they need brain breaks due to their attention span.

    The girl totally sounds like some of my SPED students, the two I tried it with didn't improve after missing recess, they got worse. Also, one of my students was determined to get attention, it was up to me to decide whether that was going to be positive attention or negative attention. My student was socially reinforced, so some days I let him report on one of the science books he read(mostly picture-walked or read with aide)to the class as a special things. Is she acting out for attention, would rewarding good behavior with being offered to be teacher's helper work?
     
  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 17, 2013

    Keep in mind that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break is easily the worst time of year, behavior-wise.
     
  13. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Dec 18, 2013

    With calm, clear, consistent expectations the holidays can be a really enjoyable time in the classroom. My class is not off the wall - they are still working, behaving and having a lot of fun. We are going to easily slide into the holidays this week. They will only go as hay-wire as you let them. Throwing off routine, letting the small things slide and disrupting regular learning will make behavior 'the worst'.
     
  14. Tek

    Tek Comrade

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    Dec 18, 2013

    Today and yesterday has gone much better. I've put more emphasis on following the rules, reinforcing positive behavior, slowed rate of speech, and doling out consequences calmly and consistently. I also have not smiled or laughed once the past 2 days... as Monday aggravated me so much there is nothing they could do at this point to make me smile/laugh. It has made a big difference.

    I think over the break I need to look more into doing projects and arts and crafts and that sort of thing. I don't do nearly enough, and the ones I do involve simple coloring, cutting and pasting. Surely I can find a wider variety, switch it up and keep the students more engaged. I feel like this race to the winter break "finish line" has been a bit laborious. On the bright side, the last 2 days have been better with stronger boundaries.
     
  15. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 18, 2013

    Excuse me for :lol: at your not laughing. I had a vision of the Royal Palace Guards. Anyway, the face is often a signal to students whether they are getting to you or no effect. Tense or stern - furrowed brow, set jaw - may look compelling but, from students' perspective, they signal upset or someone losing control. The "look" researchers noticed when observing old pros was described as "bored" or the "I've heard and seen everything you guys are doing or planning on doing a thousand times. Is that the best you can do?"

    Good to read things are getting better.
     
  16. jlj

    jlj Devotee

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Sounds like my class! I have a post going asking for advice as well. I give out time outs, silent lunch, walk laps for part of recess, miss all of recess, miss special art/craft activities in class, miss centers/free choice time, write sentences, write apology letter,... and when they write I put a "sign and return" on it and send home so parents are aware. None of these things faze them! Oh, they may whine or grumble for a sec but then they go back to talking, playing around, etc. during the consequence!
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 17, 2014

    This...stop talking to them about their poor choices. Just enforce consequences. Period
    They'll get it.
     

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