How to prevent students crowding around me at the beginning of class?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by rebeccals, May 13, 2018.

  1. rebeccals

    rebeccals New Member

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    May 13, 2018

    Hello everyone. Happy May!! Summer is JUST around the corner!!! :D

    Anyway, I'm a first year teacher and in these joyful last few weeks I've been spending a LOT of time thinking about things I can do better next year. One problem I've noticed is that at the beginning of each period, 5-6 students are consistently crowding around me, asking things like "Can I borrow a pencil?"/"What will we do today?"/"What did we do yesterday?"/Can I go to the bathroom?"/"Someone took my pencil!"/etc etc etc etc. As a result, I can't keep an eye on what the other students are doing, and I've had problems with students stealing things from my desk, pushing/hitting each other, whatever.

    I know many of these problems can be ameliorated by changing my procedures (like getting a pencil and makeup work). But I think it would be best if I was completely free during that time to supervise the students and make sure everyone gets to their bellwork quickly. So, what do you do when students have questions that they need to/try to ask you before class starts? What have you found to be the best time for students to ask you individual questions?
     
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  3. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Comrade

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    May 13, 2018

    For the future, you would want to address this situation and give a clear expectation to prevent this on the first day of class/school.
    Make sure you immediately have a discussion to reduce this situation from occur.
    State: "At the beginning of class, pick up your handouts, turn in your homework, and go directly to your seat. If you have something you need to tell me or ask me about, write a note to me and leave in the notes bin (create a notes bin). When I am done with whatever I was doing, I will read your notes and address your note. (have students do a warm-up during this time)
    If you choose to disregard this new policy, I will assign you a lunch detention, unless it is an emergency. [[note: this is my SUGGESTION. In my classroom, if a student needs something, my aide or I will help the student immediately.]]]
    *Regarding the stealing, make it clear that the student will be written up and suspended from your class. In addition, you may want to explain that if items are missing from your desk.....nobody can leave the room at the bell.
    *Regarding the physical contact: If a student hits, kicks, punches, pushes, or harms any student, the student should be immediately sent to the office, written-up, and suspended.
    *Maybe you could have all students turn in bell work three minutes after the bell and take it for a pass/fail grade. If the bell work is completed (most of it is done), the student will get a 100%. If the bell work is incomplete, the student receives a 50%. A 0% will go into the gradebook, if the bell work is not turned in.
     
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  4. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 13, 2018

    Your desk is a no parking zone. Nip this in the bud with a simple statement: “Everyone, back to your seats - NOW!"

    You don't have to be mean, but be firm.

    Sounds like they are a pretty affectionate group. They like hovering around you. Unfortunately some bad apples in there are also shopping or shoplifting as the case may be.

    Everyone is entitled to their space and your desk is just that. Teach your students to be respectful and whatever you put there needs to stay. Tell them you can't answer questions from 8 people. They need to get in their seats. Don't you have to take attendance anyway?? This should be a routine that you established. Come in, hang up coats/back packs, sit in your seats. You call row, or do it on paper/click and point on your computer, whatever, before you start your day.

    Then, one by one, ask them to follow protocol. Raise your hand and ask for what you need. There is no reason for them all to be out of their seats and crowding you. Remind them of your rules, and stick to them. The only time I want half the class at my desk is when I grading papers, or finishing some art project. Then I give specific instructions: "When you are ready for me to check your work (staple your pictures, etc.), line up on the left side of my desk. If something is missing, I will send you back. So make sure everything is ready." No way will more than 3 come that quickly. Then as children come and get chatty, rowdy, starting pushing each other, I say, "No talking now, I need to listen to my friends. You are pushing and shoving, you can sit down. You will be last."

    But three or more circling around me, oh no. You must stop that.

    Sometimes when I come in or getting ready to leave, I get that small group of children who love hugging and crowding and pulling my leg business. I stop it. It becomes infectious and everyone will swamp you. Too hard to get them back in control. You will fall down if you don't stop them. :confused:
     
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  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    May 14, 2018

    Way back in my college days, one of my first student observations was in an open space school, an ideal place to observe several classrooms plus the one I was in. A teacher next door had an interesting morning routine which I ended up copying, somewhat. The front of his desk was near the wall, and he'd usually be sitting on top of his desk conversing with a few of his fifth graders. The rest of the class was busy with getting ready for the day or quietly talking with each other. In my room, I have had set allowable procedures for the beginning of the day, which has varied a little but basically I have the students doing optional centers, reading, or conversing. I haven't sat on my desk (I'm short, and desk sitting wasn't allowed at the school) but I'd usually sit at my desk. My preference was to allow students to retrieve stuff from my desk with permission, (same rule applied for their retrieval from other students' desks), but later the entire school had a rule that the teacher's desk was unapproachable, so that was changed. I've only encountered thievery once, some money that I absentmindedly left on top of my desk early in my career. To prevent temptation, I keep stuff I'm concerned about in a safe place such as a locked closet. To watch the class, during such informal times, I try to stay in a location where I can view the entire room; my preference has always been at the back of the classroom, or on the side. Personally, I feel that informal conversational times are essential in the classroom, kind of like at teacher workshops--the teachers, when they arrive, grab a donut and coffee and chat. It gives the students brains a chance to adjust to the new day, and the consistency of expectations relieves a lot of tension, tension that usually builds up into aggression. I also schedule "brain breaks" during the day, usually unannounced, as the students know this is the expected time to unwind a bit and they know what is and isn't allowed. I use a signal and a set time for returning to their seats and beginning the next activity; at the end of the time limit, students are expected to be quiet and efficiently putting stuff away and returning/returned to their seats.
     
  6. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

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    May 14, 2018

    I put a piece of tape around my desk. You can come up but you have to stay behind the tape, and only one person can be at my desk at a time. I don't do well with people in my personal space. I have an overall expectation that students should be in their seats unless needing supplies, which helps with the crowding as well. I also keep student supplies out and available so they don't really need to ask me for that type of thing.
     
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  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    May 14, 2018

    What grade level is this? I teach HS and always have a few students who just HAVE to ask me a Q before class -- I always ask them to please follow the procedure (sit down, prepare for class, HW out, begin working on the Do Now) and then when I come around to check HW, I will answer their questions. It's not usually such an emergency after all :)
     
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  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 14, 2018

    This is a great question and something I'm still working on myself. One thing that helps anytime there are students doing something they're not supposed to be doing (talking during independent work time, getting out of their seats) is to just stand at the front of the class and watch as they start doing what they're supposed to be doing. Keep a calm face, don't do anything else, and if someone comes up to you calmly say "Go to your seat." If they persist, I point to their chair, or tell them to go raise their hand or that I'll check in with them in a moment. Then insist on that... Don't let anyone go against that expectation or they'll keep trying daily because they think their one question will be the one that's the exception to your procedures. Yes, have a "do now" bell ringer activity too, although this doesn't totally solve it.

    I've found if I'm watching to see that they're on task, they are more likely to do what they're supposed to do. If I'm trying to reply quickly to an email, or take attendance, that's when they think I can talk. Watch them get started, then do your quick tasks that you need to do once they're working.

    In elementary, the only time that doesn't really work is when they are about to puke or when they come up to tell you they have a bloody nose (just go get Kleenex, kid).

    This might not be the perfect system but it does usually work for me. I will be following this thread though! Next year, I like the idea of a "Tell Ms. O." box for the little things they need to let me know, and I also need a better system for organizing absent work.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
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  9. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 14, 2018

    My biggest pet peeve are those wonderful administrators who like to drop in and say, "Let's go over something right quick." Translation, sit down and get a pen and paper. This is a 15-20 minute training. We have some new things to add, and somebody will be here to check to see if you are doing it. By the way, this needs to start TODAY." :confused: As soon as another adult walks into the room, I can hear the silent bell going off! "DING, DING, teacher with somebody else...we can talk, and play and RUN! She can't stop us, she can't stop us!"

    And I can't, but I try, and it's useless. After three efforts to rein them back in, the director/supervisor smiles, picks up her notebook, going to interrupt another class, and says, "Okay I'll let you get back."

    Get back to what? Chaos that I didn't have before you came in? Thanks!
     
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  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 14, 2018

    I reward my class for good behavior when another adult comes in... A point toward free recess or whatever we're working towards... But then sometimes an administrator comes in and they all not so quietly whisper "Shh! Shh! The principal!" which looks suspicious. :rolleyes:

    But yes, adult in the room seems to signal "Let's get crazy!"
     
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  11. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 14, 2018

    What grade is this? Since you’re talking about the beginning of each period I’ll assume middle years or high school. It’s important to set your routines early. My rule (in grade 1 and 2) was that once at least half the class was in and settled from recess, I started. I always read aloud after recess, so the rest trickled in quietly and listened to the story while they hung up their coat & changed their shoes.

    I used to stand at the door to greet my students, but I was swarmed - usually with recess tattling. By getting everyone busy as soon as they got into the classroom, I eliminated a lot of questions & tattling. If the issue was super important, a student would usually interrupt the story. At which point, I would ask them to wait so I got the class busy with something independent and then I dealt with the questions & problems.
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    It's funny you say this, because I completely assumed it was an elementary classroom. Reading it again, I can see it might be older students. Now I'm curious.
     
  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    May 14, 2018

    Removed - upload twice.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  14. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Even more a reason to get structure, discipline and teach them to be self-starters...OP states, at the beginning of each period, which leads me to believe it must be middle school, 6th grade or higher.

    There should be board/bell-work ready when they come in. They should put away their things, sit down, and get to work. You should be able to take attendance without even speaking/interrupting them. Assigned seats, so you look up - empty seat means that kid is absent. Move on. When the morning work is done, or bell work for that period is complete, you stand in the center of the room, get their attention with something as simple as: "Good Morning!" and then go straight into your lesson. That is there cue to stop what they are doing, and be prepared to focus on you.

    Finished work goes in your basket. Not to derail the thread, but have you looked into Montessori programs? That method is a stickler on self-reliance and independent workers.

    You introduce the new lesson, review homework, collect papers. Give out new homework. Pick helper to write the assignment and homework on the board. They are responsible for getting missed assignments. The parents can call you or email your school website where you can post all the assignments for the week. Anyone 9 or older can do this by themselves.

    Now you can open up the floor, and you ask and answer questions. Pencil sharpening, "What happened Friday" and "I don't have lunch money/lunch card" is not something you should be bombarded with every day. They should have a 3-4 pencils, you can leave an extra pencil cup in the room, pencil sharpening between first few minutes when they arrive. No pencils after second semester is a stalling technique. You could even go as far as opening your own store. Pencils are .25 each. NO pencil, zero for the day. Let a parent challenge you, show them your Parent Letter from the beginning of school year. Students are expected to be prepared every day. No supplies means they can't do their work. Some schools have their own school supply store and/or vending machines in the hall. Paper, pencils and erasers. No excuses.

    They are pre-teens/teenagers acting like new kindergarten students. .
     
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  15. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    May 14, 2018

    Questions, comments etc. are handled while students are working ON bell work. That is, while I'm working the crowd I interact with students making small talk and answering questions. If a student tries to start bell work by asking a question I tell them, "Do numbers one and two and I'll come back to you." If they have a question about bell work I give a one sentence prompt and leave.

    Of course, this is after training the class the procedure - sit, I will be coming around - for bell work. If their question demands a more time consuming answer I often tell them they may stay in at recess for a reply. Kids that have a legitimate concern will stay. Those just tyring to get some individual attention from the teacher leave. As a side "note", I train the class where to put notes from home etc. not to give them to me. In any event, goal is to maximize instructional minutes with students "doing" as opposed to "not doing".
     
  16. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 15, 2018

    Exactly,

    That can backfire and bite you in the butt in so many ways.

    Yes some innocent students and not so innocent troublemakers will blurt out your incentive program. The angels will go out of they way to look extra nice. (Dead giveaway!) And the regular folks won't even bother to adjust their attitudes. Visitors to them mean party time. There are some kids who go out of their way to drive us out of a job. They like the idea of being the baddest classroom in the building. Example: The Sweathogs from Welcome Back Kotter.
     
  17. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    May 15, 2018

    Luckily, I don't think I've ever had a problem with kids actively trying to sabotage an observation or anything like that. I tell them the principal has heard we're doing great things and he might be in to check on how they're doing sometime soon. They normally want to show our guest their best behavior. I imagine it's different for older classes.
     

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