I'm at my wit's end with a boy in my class

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by Tek, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Tek

    Tek Companion

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    Feb 7, 2013

    who purposely disobeys, makes wrong choices and makes my teaching life a living you know what. It has gotten 10x worse since Christmas break. I know his aunt died at the end of 2012, and that probably plays in a bit, but here is a snapshot at his behavior

    -defies my orders
    -purposely gives the wrong answer
    -wanders around the room
    -touches my things (i.e. on my desk, calendar chart, etc.)
    -doesn't really do the work
    -can't keep his shoes on for the life of him

    I have to redirect him every 30 seconds it seems, and whenever I try to teach, he blurts out or plain makes weird noises. He is in the process of being tested for ADHD among other things.

    I have talked with the mom but admittedly probably not enough recently. I tried using team points but it does not phase him much when I erase a point off the students. They get upset at him, but he "likes it" when the teachers get a point instead. I try to redirect him by praising the child next to him; that usually works, but not for him. He still misbehaves right in front of me. Worst of all, I got a couple other immature boys, and once he starts, it quickly falls apart for 3-4 other boys, and then I'm left to erasing points, changing colors, etc. It's been sooooo frustrating as of late. I don't know what I can do... maybe I need to start sending him to the other 1st grade teacher, or maybe to the principal's office, but part of me wants to deal with it in-house unless it's really bad.

    He is a bright boy... it's all emotional and behavioral for him. He's reading at about a level F and scored 89% on sight words and has strong comprehension skills. He just can't stay focused.

    I'm going to try to implement a Scouts system... pass out "tickets" for prizes... see if that helps.

    Like today... he got up from the carpet and went to the back of the room. I addressed him but he just stayed there. We go through this almost everyday. I usually end up letting him stay there so I can teach my other 18 kids and not have them suffer for his gross misbehavior. Problem is, another boy has "teamed up" with him and is now copying the bad choices he is making.

    Maybe I should hold him in for recess? A whole week? I don't know. I try to keep things positive with him, but by the middle of the day I go into lecture mode. He is just making my 1st year incredibly difficult. He cannot stay quiet.

    Thankfully, he is somewhat of a "gentle giant." He doesn't really start fights or make others cry. They usually laugh (at?/with) him and his wacky antics.

    Any ideas on managing his behavior? I feel bad, but I've gotten to the point of telling him "I'll call your mom if you keep this behavior up..." he'll stop... but he doesn't maintain it. Maybe I should call his mom one of these days in class. I always thought I was pretty good at classroom management, but nothing in student teaching or the books ever prepared me for an emotionally troubled boy like this one. I seriously feel bad for the well behaved kids whose learning is being affected by my constant redirection of just this one impulsive boy. He's making teaching somewhat of a miserable experience, especially in the last month.
     
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  3. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2013

    1. Who did you bribe so that you only have ONE boy like that in your class. I've never had a year with less than three. The only difference is that none of them were ever actually being tested for ADHD.

    2. You mention that his skills are high. Many first graders will get a case of "senioritis" when they know how to read and start to think they don't need to be there when their classmates are still learning to sound out words. Though I refuse to consider "bored" as an excuse for misbehavior, he may be reacting to curriculum that he associates with preschool or kindergarten.

    3. If his skills are high, take solace in the fact that you don't have to figure out a way to get him up to grade level by the end of the year. I have one of those. He rolls around the floor, disrupts the class and he can't read and doesn't seem too interested in learning.

    4. You mention you have some other kids who copy his misbehavior. Nip that in the bud now. One way that kids can earn my angry, fire-breathing wrath is to copy (or use as and excuse) the misbehavior of another student. It's one thing when they dream up their own misdeeds and transgressions. I'll give them points for creativity. But copycat behavior really gets under my skin. So if the student in question gets up and goes to his desk, you tell the others that he's getting a consequence, and if they copy what he's doing their consequence will be far worse.

    5. The going to his desk is not such a bad thing. Especially if you can make it look like it was your idea.

    6. Does he have a job in the classroom? Boys like that I usually make my "class messenger." I arrange with a number of other teachers that a few times a day, he'll come in with a note and hand it to them. All they do is say "Thanks" and send him back to class. I've never had an ADHD, emotionally disturbed, or other behavior challenged student who couldn't handle that job and do it very well. And that included a student with a record of running off and leaving school.

    7. Stop telling him you will call his mom and not do it. Instead, actually call his mom. With first graders, the best way to involve parents is to put the kid on the phone to get a little pep talk or attitude adjustment during the day, immediately or as soon as possible after the misbehavior. Last year, I had a very defiant student. If told him to do something and he did not do as I asked, I would count. If I got to five, his grandmother got an email. All it would say is "I got to five" and she knew exactly what that meant. There were no exceptions. This system worked very well. And if you use email to report misbehavior, make sure he's there when you type and send the email.

    8. Finally, a week of no recess or sending him to the principal will do nothing but aggravate and annoy the both of you.
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2013

    Yes! Yes! Yes!! Especially #1!! I'd love to know how you lucked out with only one!

    For children like this, with 0 impulse control, it usually manifests on the playground as well. I still send these children out for recess, because goodness knows, they NEED recess. But have them walk with the supervisor. They relish the 1-1 adult time and don't have the chance to hurt anyone on the playground, while still getting that much needed exercise.

    Be thankful this child is being tested for ADHD. I have some very obvious needs in my classroom that aren't being tested.... You need to hang onto the hope that more help is on the way.
     
  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Enthusiast

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    Feb 8, 2013

    Stop letting if affect the others. He's bright - ignore him and work with the ones who want to learn. Make sure there are consequences for not finishing his work, since he seems more than capable. But teach the ones who want to learn. It's hard to let go like that sometimes.
     
  6. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Feb 8, 2013

    I've typed those emails that Sarge mentioned, I then read it to the student & have him hit send.

    I've also done the note. I've gotten the note asking for something, depending on if the child seems ready to go back to class, I'll take some time looking for it or send him to another teacher.

    One year I had a Kinder come back from Christmas break & he would start screaming, the I'm being murdered scream, any time he didn't get his way. Time to move on & he wasn't done? Scream. Couldn't sit on the carpet because someone was sitting in the spot he wanted? Scream. I couldn't teach. It got to the point that after 3 melt downs Mom had to come pick him up. When that didn't work, we put him on 1/2 days. Mom was too busy doing her own things to make him an appointment with an outside counselor. Yes, she told me that.
     
  7. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Feb 8, 2013

    I pull out my cell phone, and count to five. If they aren't where they should be...they never aren't where they should be by then.
    All of their parent info is at my fingertips, and they know I can and will call their parents or talk to them after school.


    and only 1?wow.
    I have a class full(or so it seems).
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Feb 8, 2013

    I have to redirect him every 30 seconds it seems, and whenever I try to teach, he blurts out or plain makes weird noises.

    Wow! He sounds like a handful. Sorry, you are going through this.

    By redirecting him every 30 seconds you are giving attention when he misbehaves. As we know, there are many children who love attention. I can't solve such a large problem in one post, but I have an idea that might improve things a bit.

    Try not giving him any verbal responses when he misbehaves. Just give him the consequence and move on. Then try to praise him for anything several times a day. Even if it is for accepting his consequence without arguing. The praise will only work though if you are also going to be consistent with consequences as well.
     
  9. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I'm like Sarge, but also like Jeanette. I call myself a drill sergeant and the wicked witch of the south, lol. My kiddos often have little or no structure at home, so I provide it. If a child will not behave in a manner amenable to learning in my class, I immediately pick up my phone. For some kids, I call mom/dad/grandma/whoever, explain the situation, and put the kiddo on the phone (I wish we had classroom phones, but they died). For others, I text the parental figure. The immediacy of the phone call helps with many kids, because they need immediate feedback, good and bad. Texting is less disruptive to my class, and keeps the other kids from "listening in."

    You say he is bright. Have you given him a "chapter book?" I have found that, for some kids, the opportunity to borrow one of my books (Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, etc.) and read to themselves when finished with their "regular" work is a real bonus (not all students have that opportunity).

    Re: recess. We don't get enough. When we do get recess, it's only 15 minutes. I often do indoor recess videos (on DiscoveryEducation.com for free) when we can't be on the playground for whatever reason, with the caviat that the kiddos must follow the safety rules or I turn it off. When we do go outside, my "in trouble" kids don't get to play on the equipment. Instead, they "walk the fences," walking across the playground and back a number of times - I make them move! They need it! (We only have 2 first grade classes, so I always have recess duty :( )

    Just some thoughts.
     
  10. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I agree so much with all of the above. However, I now have a lovely note that the kids write/draw themselves of what they were doing, what they were supposed to be doing, and what they are going to do next time. Then I write a little more on it in pen and they put it in their folder themselves. Parents have stopped calling with the "Johnny said he really didn't do that exact thing he does at home every single day at school".
     
  11. mrsc_teaches

    mrsc_teaches Companion

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    Feb 15, 2013

    I refer to myself as Castro...a dictator! Sit him at your feet during carpet time and if he moves grab him...no words and get a hand sign for sit. Eventually you should be able to teach catch his eye do the signal and he will refocus. Calling attention verbally reinforces what negative attention he is after. I have about six who are like this and by this point they all know better and I still use my hand signal when necessary...mine is the ASL sign for sit.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Feb 15, 2013

    I would throw in that there is a difference between being extremely structured and being mean. Characterizations such as "drill sargeant," "dictator," and "wicked witch" I think convey that there is an element of meanness or cruelness which I think could imply a lack of balance between being firm and supportive. I'm guessing the folks who have used those characterizations are, in fact, great teachers who balance discipline and structure with love and affection (and integrate the two), but just wanted to clarify for the OP who may have taken a different message.

    Also, as a side note, I would advise against grabbing kids who moved where you didn't want them to go. I do think a gentle physical redirection with extremely young students is probably okay, which may be what the poster meant, but the term "grabbing" might imply something that could cause you more problems that you'd be fixing.
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    You speak of "drill sergeant" like it was a bad thing.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Lol in many situations I'm sure it's not!
     
  15. Tek

    Tek Companion

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    Feb 21, 2013

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Yesterday he tripped me and I almost fell on another student on the carpet. In hindsight, I should have addressed this more than a quick lecture to him and the entire class about sitting still in the middle of your carpet square. I should probably have emailed the parents (I still can). Basically he fidgets a lot, and I was walking to grab a book off the shelf. He crawled alongside me and I didn't see him nor expected him to go out that far. I tried to catch myself and luckily fell in a spot where I missed a girl by a foot or so. I was OK, myself. Everyone was OK.

    I was mostly shocked, I think. Not angry so much as shocked. I spoke with him about the importance of staying in his square. I try to build him up by praising but it's so difficult to praise a boy who only follows the rules 10% of the time. It gets to the point where I let a lot of things slide because IF I always "get him" to act like the other kids, I would never do any teaching. Some kids will be just who they are... and I don't know if, at a certain point, you can radically change them.

    It's a constant "Do I let that slide with him?" battle in my mind. But, I can try more of a silent look next time and see how that fares.

    Everyday I start out feeling optimistic and glad to see him. By recess time I'm mildly annoyed. By lunch time I am disappointed that it's Groundhog Day, and by the end of the day I want to pull my hair out. I teach at a private school and if I return, I don't see any kids with the kind of issues he has coming in next year. I am trying to help him, but honestly, I have that back pocket card of "Well, just 3 more months... next year's kids can't be any worse..." Even the principal and superintendent admits that they gave me a very bad mix of water and oil kids. I have kids arguing, fighting and crying every 15 minutes, it seems. I guess my 1st year had to be this way. I am honestly looking forward to next school year, because this year has been more management than actual teaching. It's been frustrating, but I got 3 more months to go and want to make the best of it.
     
  16. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Feb 21, 2013

    I love each and every one of my students, and they all know it, even the most, ummm, challenging of the bunch. I am extremely firm with them, though, because I have high expectations for all of them. In addition (and more importantly, actually), most of my kiddos desperately need structure and predictability. To paraphrase a Dr. Phil phrase, they need to be able to predict, with 100% accuracy, what will happen at such and such a time, or if they do such and such an act. Many of my kiddos have no structure or dependability at home, so I am the one to teach them what it looks/sounds/feels like. I call myself the "wicked witch of the south," and "drill sergeant," but I have parents requesting for their kids to be in my class. I also have one of the most well-behaved and productive classes at my school (despite having several non-readers. still. this late. in the year.).
     

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