I need advice on how to deal with 5th grade behaviors

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by Joy, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Dec 7, 2011

    I need some ideas on what to do with 5th graders with bad attitudes.

    I just finished a long-term in elementary music and am in my second week back at day-to-day subbing. I have been getting alot of requests from elementary music teachers and had a lot of days lined up months ago. I love getting to sub music but always dread the first class of the day which is always 5th grade. No matter what I do they always seem disrespectful and have terrible attitudes. Part of the problem I know is that day-to-day subbing in a special means that I somewhat have to follow the behavior system of the current teacher. Usually they leave a note telling me to let them know of any students who were a problem or send a note back to their classroom teacher. This makes it really hard because even when I tell the student that I am doing this it makes it seem like I have no authority. I never had any of these problems during my long-term.

    The other thing making it hard is that I have one chance to try and see what will work for a class that I have never had. If it doesn't work, I feel like I failed instead of thinking that I have another day to try something new with them. I have classroom rules and I always go over expectations at the beginning of class. I'm just looking for some new ideas on things to try. I know that most often the regular teacher that I am subbing for is also having trouble with these classes and clearly communicates that to me. However, I'm sure that these classes are in their glory when having a sub. What are some strategies that I could use?
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Dec 9, 2011

    Truly a difficult challenge! Not only do you have the challenge of only having an assignment for 1 day and not being able to build discipline beyond a day, but you only have 1 CLASS period! That's pretty tough.

    A few quick thoughts/questions:

    1) What are you doing now? Can you describe what your general game plan is, other than going over rules and expectations?

    2) Take an inventory of what you have available in terms of things the kids like and things they don't like. If you don't have enough of stuff that kids like, you have to create new stuff. So, you may have to set 5 minutes aside at the end of the period as free time that can be earned throughout the period. Or, you may have to bring in tangible rewards. However, I'd start with an inventory of what IS in fact there.

    3) Make reinforcements and rewards more frequently administered as well as more immediately delivered. The same reward in 15 minutes is not the same as the same reward right NOW. Think about this: if I offered you $500 now or $500 in 15 years, which would motivate you more? Would you even be motivated at all by the 15 year offer?

    4) Re-evaluate your academic strategies/curricula - trying to do too much as a sub just may not be worth it. It may be better to come in with some pretty sure-fire activities/instructional techniques that are engaging, fun, fast-paced, etc. Try to incorporate some of the standards/lessons of the day if you can, but at the end of the day, an awesome day with great activities (though perhaps not exactly covering everything in the lesson) is better than covering NOTHING in the lesson because behavior was that bad. Most teachers are going to want to re-teach the content matter to their standards, anyway, to make sure their kids get it.

    5) Consider your demeanor with the kids - are you extremely strict, very friendly, neutral, etc? Often times kids very quickly assess how easy misbehaving will be with a sub - within the first minute or two. Be relaxed, funny, confident, firm, and straight up about your expectations - let them know you that you know kids often test subs and see what they get away with, that you'll be looking for who that is and reporting it to the teacher, etc. Don't be mean, but be confident and straight up.

    Hopefully some of this helps!
     
  4. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Dec 9, 2011

    After going over expectations, I tell them that I will give them one warning. The warning means their name goes on the board. If they continue, they get a checkmark and a note to their classroom teacher and the music teacher that I am subbing for. The problem with this is that it just makes it seem like I have no authority. I know however, that alot of music teachers just have this as their management system. When a student acts up, they just write a note to the classroom teacher. I have found though that alot of times the classroom teacher does nothing with it and the kid ends up with no consequence at all. After all, why should the classroom teacher have to give consequences for something happening in music?

    I have been trying many different approaches. I have tried being very strict, being very nice, and somewhere in the middle. It doesn't really seem to matter.

    I do give out character counts slips from the school but 5th graders don't really care if they get them or not. I try to praise students who are doing a good job but I don't always like to single out a few students because that can sometimes backfire. They decide that they don't want to be the good ones and would rather be cool and join the naughty ones. I don't think 5th graders are too interested in stickers and I can't give out candy (that is what would work though).
     
  5. Jayneorama

    Jayneorama Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2011

    Is there a drum or a gong in the room, something big and attractive to kids? I was always amazed at how hard kids will work to ring the gong on their way out of the music room, at the end of class. If you can find something like that easily there and put it by the door, and announce that only people with no checkmarks get to ring the gong at the end, would that work?
     
  6. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Dec 9, 2011

    I've heard of some other music teachers that use that. I might give it a try!
     
  7. texaspenguin

    texaspenguin Rookie

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    Jan 5, 2012

    Using a calm, but assertive voice and being clear in your expectations is extremely important. If kids talk back or get an attitude, ignore the behavior for the time being.
     
  8. StellatheSub

    StellatheSub Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2012

    I agree with TexasPenguin. I used to react to nasty back-talk and it all went down a slippery slope very fast. Now, after reading Fred Jones, I have begun to ignore it. I don't completely ignore it, but what I do is look at the student like I am annoyed for a few seconds and then I continue on in a positive tone. Usually the behavior subsides after the students realize that they are not dealing with an amateur, and I get a lot of smiles and hugs as the students leave the special.
     
  9. texaspenguin

    texaspenguin Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2012

    I love the Fred Jones book! That one and Setting Limits in the Classroom are my faves. I really struggled with management before because I let the nastiness affect me. After I learned to stay calm and factual, things really improved. I rarely have any issues with attitude anymore. Here are some management books I posted on my blog about:

    http://www.thesciencepenguin.com/2012/01/classroom-management-books-linky-party.html
     
  10. Joy

    Joy Cohort

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    Which one of these books would be the most applicable to a substitute teacher? I had to read "The First Days of School" in college and thinking back to it now it was set up more for a full-time teacher. I would love to start reading some more books on the subject but want to start with those that would be the most help.
     
  11. texaspenguin

    texaspenguin Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2012

    I think Setting Limits in the Classroom is great for subs because it applies to everyday behaviors (especially with kids you don't know who don't know you).
     
  12. texaspenguin

    texaspenguin Rookie

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  13. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Jan 9, 2012

    One of my favorite books is "Backtalk", by Ricker and Crowder. Talks abut logical consequences. Goes great with "Setting Limits in the Classroom"!
     
  14. SetterHugger85

    SetterHugger85 Rookie

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    Jan 26, 2012

    My first day in one of my school districts as a sub was for fifth grade, and I am certified to teach middle school and high school! I was so nervous but it went really well. I know you are in music and was in a general classroom for both of the classes I have subbed for thus far but so far here is what worked:

    1) It probably sounds cliche, but make the effort to know their names no matter how long you have them for. I had the students write their first names on a post-it and a favorite animal that begins with the same letter and stick it on their desk...they had a lot of fun with it and it was a fun icebreaker.

    2) Make it clear that although you are not their regular teacher you are still a teacher and explain what is expected....I tell them respect each other and me and I will respect them back, raise their hands, and follow directions...three groundwork rules to build from.
    I also say to get their attention i will say "raise your hands if you heard what I said" ...or " raise your hands if you are ready to begin"...it takes a few times and then you can be like..."next time I bet we can do that in two times, etc.

    3) Lastly, I make sure they know their teacher will be getting a good student/bad student list. I have notecards with stickers that say "___________ was caught on good behavior!" and either place the student's name or have the student place their name there. I then leave them for the teacher. I write descriptions of the good behavior. One teacher read these to her class and they felt really proud of themselves!

    Hope I helped a little :) Good luck!
     
  15. Speakup

    Speakup Rookie

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    Jan 31, 2012

    I was given the worse advice to "not smile." Yes, I was told such in a large urban district. They told me that I smiled too much and such is why the students were acting up. So, on my next job...I stopped smiling. I showed no emotion and it worked. But, that was not my heart so I just learned better management techniques for behavior.
     

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