How much should a teacher be accountable for a student's behavior?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    My school has some HUGE behavior problems. In every grade level there are students with extremely severe issues who in other districts would likely be in a self-contained EBD classroom. Kids that throw around things and try to destroy rooms on at least a weekly basis, bite/hit/kick other children, run out of the classroom, just start screaming for no reason, etc.

    I was fortunate that my student like that moved towards the beginning of the year. I now have a wonderfully behaved class. I really just lucked into probably the "best" class in the school. The specials teachers talk about how much they love when my class comes in. The 2nd grade teachers talk about how much they miss them. On my evaulation my P went on and on about how my kids were the "most engaged" (her BIG thing this year) she'd seen in any classroom yet.

    The thing is, they're just naturally well behaved students who pay attention and do the activities I ask anyway. My biggest problem is a student with ADHD, which is nothing compared to other issues in the school, and aside from him the rest of my class rarely needs any type of discipline. I'm not doing anything special for them. Meanwhile, other teachers who still have students with severe issues in their classrooms are getting "blamed" for how these students are acting in their classes. One 5th grade teacher has FOUR such students in her class. The entire building knows she has the toughest class. The police have even been called a few times. Yet she constantly gets horrible evaluations and walkthroughs due to the students' behavior/lack of engagement. I think this is incredibly unfair. At what point does the student have to take some responsibility for their own behavior? At what point is it possible to say that a student is simply choosing not to pay attention or participate? I may have lucked out this year, but I've seen our 2nd graders...it won't happen again! Is it typical for all teachers to be rated on an "even playing field" even when someone has a "rough" class?
     
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  3. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    It is ridiculous how teacher evaluations are tied directly to students' behavior. You can have excellent lessons and firm, consistent expectations, but if some students choose not to follow the rules you will be given poor classroom management marks.

    A good administrator should rate a teacher on how he or she conducts him/herself in the classroom and the strategies he or she uses to minimize the loss of instructional time when a child is not engaged/does not follow the rules. Like you said, not all children are the same.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Good questions. This has always bothered me. It's ridiculous how teachers are sometimes are assumed to me magicians.
     
  5. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    We are expected to be miracle workers, to tame the wild animals that the parents failed to do.
     
  6. KoGs

    KoGs Rookie

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    First and foremost I think you have to define, for yourself, what your limits are. This is different for each teacher and each class. Then let your students know what those limits are and be consistent about it. Once students know they can't get away with something they usually stop. Have a set of hierarchical punishments and make sure you enforce them every single time with every single kid. Then when finally a kid does get out of control you can say to the principal and the parent, first I did this, the kid reacted this way, then I did this, the kid reacted this way, ............., which finally brings us to this point. In my experience if the principal sees that you have attempted various things they won't blame you.

    Have you ever read Fred Jone's Tools for Teachers? Great book. He stresses remaining clam above all else and don't take anything the student does or say personally.
     
  7. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    We had an assistant principal who kept throwing around the term "classroom control." When he was griping about it after school one day, I told him, "No one controls anyone but themselves. The kids 15 miles further out in the suburbs at "Fictitious High School" behave because they CHOOSE to behave that way." I also told him, "The minute you come up with the pill that makes people care, you can retire from education."

    As for your question of, "Is it typical for all teachers to be rated on an "even playing field" even when someone has a "rough" class?" It all depends upon whether the administrator doing the evaluation has common sense or not, whether he's out to get someone or not, or if he has a quota of observations he has to meet where teachers fall into the "needs improvement" category. (No matter how good they actually are.)
     
  8. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    It's hard to say if an evaluation is horrible without knowing specifics. Although any student can have a melt-down at any time, it's rare to observe a teacher demonstrating correctly the use of best practice during management and instruction over and over and continue to observe no change or improvement in behavior or engagement. Before one can really say "It's the kids and not the teacher", far more investment should be applied to not only what the teacher is doing but how he/she is doing it.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I think in situations like this we are tempted to think in an "either-or" fashion. Either kids are well behaved themselves OR the teacher is effective. In part we've been conditioned to think this way because of things like the current state of teacher evaluations. In reality, kids could behave or not for a variety of reasons, many of which are like active at any given point. That, then, makes it tough to either attribute responsibility to or discount any of those variables without a lot more specific investigation. So, I'm with loomistrout - while looking at outcomes is important, we should probably only hold teachers accountable for inputs/processes, at least until we are better able to identify exactly which classroom variables contribute to which outcomes precisely in each individual classroom.
     
  10. GeetGeet

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    I am a high school teacher in NJ and I have participated in a trial of a new evaluation system called "TeachScape." Much of it is good, but both myself and our vice principal agree that there is way too much emphasis placed on how the kids conduct themselves in the classroom. For instance, if kids "correct each other's behavior" or "act kindly towards others" is is assumed that the teacher has created that sort of atmosphere, not that these are simply good kids with manners who have good parents. I am lucky to work in a school where kids are generally really nice, so I can't imagine how teachers in the inner cities are doing. I am not sure who creates these evaluation methods, but it would be nice if teachers actually came up with them for once...
     
  11. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Or at what point does the administration realize that these children have disabilities and need more intensive support than what can be provided by one teacher alone?
     
  12. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Waterfall - I completely understand what you are saying. This school year, I am blessed with the best behaved class I've had in years. Are they perfect? Nope. They are, after all, extremely low-income, urban children in a district in which all of the "super bright" kids (with parents who care enough) are pulled to the magnet school. Please don't misunderstand - I have a couple of kids who read on a 3rd grade level, but they are few and far between.

    Anyway, the 2nd grade class that shares a wall with me is a zoo by comparison. I had most of the kiddos in that class last year and, while they drove me nuts and kept me hopping all day, the DID NOT scream and yell at me or at each other, nor did they destroy the classroom. Their teacher did not want to teach 2nd, but was moved there because of school population shifts. Instead of engaging them, she stands at the head of the class by the smartboard and lecture/yells at them daily. How do I know this? I can hear her (and them) every day! My P was visiting her class daily and trying to help come up with solutions to the chaos, but this teacher actually went over her head and complained to someone at the district level that she was being bullied by our P! Ugh!

    On the other hand, we have a 3rd grade class that is overpopulated (30 kids in a very small classroom), and has several severely ADHD kids in it, and the teacher is overwhelmed, but managing. She has accepted the help that was offered and, while it isn't perfect, things are improving and the students are learning.

    I think it all depends on your administration, and their view of how things happen. Personally, I feel blessed to have a P who is a former 1st grade teacher (our last one was ex-military and from a high school background). She is what, in restaurant circles, is called a working manager. She buckles down and gets busy with the rest of us. Sounds like your admin need to take some time to actually visit the classroom (unofficially) and see if they can do better!
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    A lot of them are in sped, but they don't even really receive services. The student I had at the beginning of the year happened to be really low academically as well, so she got an hour or so of pull out a day, but I got NO support with her behavior and we aren't even allowed to send kids to the office. One of my teammates has a kid in his class who will start screaming, throwing chairs, etc. (to the point where it's very distracting to my class next door- I can't imagine what it's like to actually be in that class!) The student is identified with a behavior disorder, but since he's on grade level he doesn't actually get any sped services, just "consult" and he's in the check in/check out program. He has a behavior plan for class but it doesn't work. I believe our evaluation says 85% of students have to be engaged, but it's really hard for 8-9 year olds to be engaged in what they're doing when someone is screaming and repeatedly throwing a chair against a wall..
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Jan 19, 2013

    I have some challenging students this year - I am juggling and tap dancing all day trying to keep up with everything. My principal recognizes my efforts and understands that I cannot actually control what a child chooses to do - and a child with 0 impulse control, even less! I would not be worried about an evaluation this year because I know my admin is very supportive and aware of what is going on in my room.
     
  15. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Exactly. I also teach in a wild, chaotic school and my thing is: if a child's parent can't control them or get them to behave, then what do they expect from me? I am tired of Admin telling me to call the child's parent and conference with them, when Admin knows that these parents cannot get their child to change their behavior. I am tired of meeting with the same parents over-and-over again and hearing how they have no idea what to do about their child's behavior.

    I don't get why Admin wants to blame teachers for student behavior and the lack of learning going on in the classroom when they know certain children cannot be tamed and are out-of-control everyday.
     
  16. bubbles

    bubbles Rookie

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    I happen to be blessed with an awesome class this year as well as many of you, but I know that there can be that 1 kid or 1 year that you can get the class from you-know-where. In fact there is one teacher this year on my team who has 2 kids who just should not be together under any circumstances. The 3rd grade teachers even noted this, but somehow they were placed together. I know she has excellent classroom management, but still those 2 kids together can throw the entire class off-balance. On a day when one or the other is absent (rarely), her whole demeanor is much more calm and relaxing, and the entire class gets along better. Either on their own is manageable, but together - chaos reigns.

    So in my ramblings, I feel that as long as a teacher has a history of decent classroom management, test scores (not just THE test), and documentation of behavior then no they should not be held accountable for all student's behavior. Sadly I don't think all teachers can reach all students. That's not to say all students can't be reached, only that they may need another classroom environment or teacher personality in order to be the most successful person/student they can be.
     
  17. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    How do they measure this? And if not, what happens?
     
  18. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Ours says the same thing. Whilst they can't seem to measure it objectively, we've been told what engagement "should" look like. Ideally, it is "when all students are actively participating in the lesson, and most students do not appear obviously bored, asleep, or outright doing tasks unrelated to the lesson (such as talking to their neighbors about baseball during a lesson on the Renaissance)."

    In practice though, I don't yet know how this is being "enforced", as I'm tenured and thus don't get evaluated this year. But we've been told that if students are not engaged, we cannot get the highest evaluation score.
     
  19. BehaviorDiva

    BehaviorDiva Rookie

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    My class was put together specifically based on their behaviors. They were unmanageable in their classes and therefore were not taught. I have very difficult 4th graders, and am a behavior professional so I have them mostly under control. I find that my instructional methods get torn apart according to the rubric because my students have so few basic facts, many need a lot of scaffolding and support that is frowned upon since they aren't actively engaged in their learning as much as they continue to resist and see their behaviors aren't getting them out of tasks and finally are agreeing to doing work. But the work is sometimes not satisfying the rubrics because I have to balance way more than learning and being thinkers, if that makes sense!
     
  20. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    It does, BehaviorDiva - I wish there were more of you to go around!

    Our evaluation also states 85% engagement (our school's stated goal is 100% engagement). In my experience (just mine, mind you), most of the "behavioral" students I have had were often that way because chaos reigned at home. I actually had a mom come to the school (the only other time I saw her was field day) and curse her 1st grader out because of his behavior. Really? But that's what many of my kiddos get on a daily basis when not at school. At home, they have to yell to be heard over the tv/music/arguing/other people/whatever. Many have moms who seem to have revolving doors to their bedrooms, and have so many uncles it's unreal. Fully half of our student population is related to each other, and it's not the typical cousin to cousin relationships. We have situations where 5 students in the same grade are half-siblings through their dad!

    Is it any wonder our kids come to us this way? At the same time, someone has to teach our babies that there are consequences (good and bad) for their actions (good and bad). Many of them come to school with the expectation that everything will be handed to them on a silver platter, and they can do anything they want with no consequences.
     
  21. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    It's very subjective. At one point we were told a student had to look happy/excited to be learning. At another point it was that if they were doing higher level thinking, that was engaging. There are obvious things like being off task/talking when they're not supposed to, but other things that get murky as well. For example one of my teammates got marked down for a kid that got up to sharpen his pencil and another got marked down because kids weren't tracking the words with their finger when she was reading part of a story to them. On our eval we can get fully meets, partially meets, or needs improvment for each section, one of which is the 85% engagment. There is an "exceeds" but we have been told no one will get that until the school is rated as a proficient school based on the state tests. If you get two "needs improvments" you are placed on an improvement plan which is basically the paperwork they need to do for nonrenewal.
     

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