Job in Danger: How to get students' respect?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Newb, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Newb

    Newb Rookie

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    Dec 4, 2012

    I'm in my first year and my kids hate me. They're openly disrespectful: not paying attention and listening to headphones when I'm teaching, talking when I'm trying to give directions, breaking the same rules about no food or drink in class every day and pretending they didn't know, etc. They constantly tell me how I suck as a teacher, how I'm mean and play favorites, how they want out of my class, how their parents are going to come and scream at me, and one kid today said she was going to have me fired before storming out of class in the closing seconds.

    I'm sick of it. But when I try to do anything about it, it just makes it worse. I try going over my rules (simple stuff... stay in your seat and be quiet unless given permission; no food, drinks, or cell phones; respect me and your classmates; listen and follow directions; hands and feet to yourself). I try going over procedures and modeling them... but when I do this, the kids go off saying they're not little kids and shouldn't be disrespected like that. Then the problem starts all over again.

    For example, about twice a week my first block class falls apart. I walk in and try to teach, but when I try to redirect students who aren't paying attention to the material or tell them to stop talking or stay in their seats, they start talking back, usually screaming at me. I tell them I'm not going to argue with them and if they have something to say, they should stay after class and we'll discuss it. They keep escalating it. I send the students who are being particularly disrespectful out to the hall or to the office.

    When I do that, other students jump to that student's defense and say I'm mean and unfair because everyone else was doing being just as bad and it's my fault. That causes the rest of the class to join their side and before you know it, I have students walking out of the room to go call their parents and demand they get transferred out of my class because I'm an idiot who has no control of the class and should be fired.

    I have an assistant principal at my school (who never actually taught school at any level before and got this job because of family connections) who says he might fire me if my first observation of the year goes badly in 2 days. I'm in TN and I need to score at least a "3" on the observation (out of 5, and *4* is very difficult) or he's strongly hinted I'll be terminated at the end of the semester for incompetence because I'm easily replaceable ("If you can't score a 4, you're in the wrong job." is one of his favorite quotes). He says I need to read classroom management stuff and "get it handled" but I've tried different ones and none of them have helped me yet, and when I read his preferred books it's all just a bunch of vague generalities about how I should never raise my voice and how preparation and enforcement of a simple policy (but never a specific policy) will fix all problems. He's also just forbidden me from sending kids to the office, saying I need to fix my problems on my own or I'm not worth having on staff. But what can I do!?!?!?

    On his advice, I've changed my class rules 3 times now. Each time, I go over them with the kids and explain this is just about keeping things orderly and making the most out of our time together. I'm told never to raise my voice, never single a kid out for discipline, never discipline the whole class, that it's all about procedures... but how can I run a classroom this way when the kids won't follow the procedures in the first place and won't respond to anything but yelling!?!?!

    How can I fix my classroom and save my job!?!? :help:
     
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  3. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Dec 4, 2012

    Ok, what is your consequence system? If you don't have one, make one. Going over rules is great, but if you don't have a system to enforce it, it won't do anything at all.

    My system is a three-strike system. They get two warnings. For each warning, they owe me incremental time after class. On the third, they get detention (I prefer to take part of their lunch because it cuts down on the "I can't stay late" excuses).

    More than one lunch detention gets a call home, after a call home, they get a referral, etc etc.

    If you don't have supportive administration, see if one of the more senior teachers would be willing to mentor you and give you some advice.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Dec 4, 2012

    Agree with Ms. SLS. This doesn't sound like a good situation. Definitely implement a strong classroom management plan, if you haven't already, and follow through. Get parents on your side. And work on building a relationship with your students. Maybe this is the one step that you forgot to do???? Getting the students on your side, to work with you will make a huge difference.


    Also I agree in finding a mentor teacher. Ask someone you trust to come in during their prep time to observe your class and give you suggestions. They might see something that you don't that could make a huge difference.
     
  5. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Dec 4, 2012

    Everything mentioned above is awesome!! :up:

    Instead of draining your energy dealing with the negative students, how about focusing on the positive? Are there 2-3 students (maybe even just 1) that usually do what you ask? It may feel like everyone gangs up on you, but if you think about it for a few minutes, there probably are some who aren't as bad as the rest. Bring in treats for those students and make sure you broadcast (LOUD and CLEAR) why they're receiving the reward.

    "Joey, I love how you started on your work without me having to ask you a second time! YOU ROCK! Here's a homemade brownie for your hard work!"

    "Michelle, I love how you came in the room quietly and sat in your seat right away! Here's a carmel apple sucker! WAY TO GO!"

    My kids are especially fond of brownies, cookies, etc. Baked goods. You'll be surprised how quickly some of the other ones shape up because they want the treat, too.
     
  6. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Dec 4, 2012

    If they are eating in class, walk to their desk, pick up their food and throw it in the trash. If they are listening to music, walk up and GENTLY remove the earphones from their ears. If it escalates? Call the parents in the middle of class in FRONT of the student.

    You were fortunate enough to get a job, so you must be doing something right, It's never to late to turn things around, but you have to be consistent.

    It might take a lot of time, but email the parents of the students who are giving you the MOST problems in each class. Document what they are doing and tell the parents you want to work with them to ensure that Susie or Billy have a successful year.

    What subject are you teaching btw?
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Dec 4, 2012

    I would advise against taking earphone out of students' ears, and in general touching anything that's 'attached' to them. I would question throwing their food away as well, although you might feel that it's the last option with that issue. I think you might get more problems doing these things.
     
  8. Newb

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    Dec 4, 2012

    I try to avoid power struggles, but a simple "Kat, please don't talk when I'm going over instructions. Thank you." gets blown up into grounds for an all out rebellion by the entire class. Even just calmly asserting the rule and refusing to argue doesn't stop the kids from escalating.

    I'd like to make class more student centered, but when I put them in groups, they just goof off and do very little. Or they get mad when they look over and see someone else goofing off and they blame me for "playing favorites" and start yelling at me or getting up to write insults to me on the board.

    The SPED teacher who's in my 2 inclusion classes (and finally agreed to teach them one day a week) has advised me to never let them work in groups again because they just waste time. He also advised me to make the assignments so easy that it's impossible to fail, focus on drilling in the standards through rote memorization, and to give them as little freedom as possible because they can't handle it and will just use it to cause trouble. That's not the kind of classroom I wanted, but the kids do respond better to him when he teaches.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    This seems like a really tough situation. I agree with your Sped teacher to make things easy enough for them to do so they can't fail. It may seem like you're dumbing things down, but you can do it in a way that you're providing enough scaffolding where everyone should succeed. And that would be a good thing for them, obviously they have a negative attitude towards school, so a little success could make things better.

    I also agree about little to no freedom. At this point you don't want anyone getting up, anyone talking, anyone doing anything other than reading, writing or doing whatever work you require them to do, and then later they can have more class discussions, partner work etc. But right now I would avoid anything where they talk to each other, just until you can get a hold of total control.
    I have modified plans in the past because they couldn't handle partner work, group work, or even class discussion, in that case, it was all individual work.
    They might say it's boring, but you said they already said that now, so what? See if you can do this and if things improve.
     
  10. Cobalt_Waves

    Cobalt_Waves Rookie

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    Dec 5, 2012

    My first year of teaching (last year), I felt compelled to bribe my students like crazy to get them to behave. It really was not right or fair by any means, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I realize this is not a good classroom management technique in the long-term, but it worked for me at that school for a year. I was lucky in that I got to bribe students with food (my prinicipal outright told me to do whatever I had to do in that respect). I also bribed them with movies, and prizes I would buy out of my own money. I tried to make all the prizes related to the subject matter. I teach French, so I bribed students with French food, French books, French pencils, etc. That being said, these were elementary school students so they were more easily bought.

    This year, I teach Advanced French in high school and I have very few classroom management issues. It is just a completely different situation! All too often, blame or credit is given to the teacher on his or her class' behaviour, but it all goes back to the students, their upbringing and the school environment.

    Your administration does not sound very supportive. I feel for you. BEST OF LUCK.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Dec 5, 2012

    I wish someone at some point had told me that my curriculum design is by far the most important tool I had for classroom management. My students know every day they have a choice. They can behave to my expectations and learn my way or they can behave like children and learn the way the state of California dictates which is by reading a textbook and answering multiple choice questions.

    Usually once of following through on my threat and stopping a lesson mid-stream to switch over is enough to stop any future problems. It might be a bit late for you to go this route but a week or two of hardcore drill and kill might help them realize that you have a job requirement to teach them but not a requirement on how to do it.
     
  12. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    I don't consider rewarding good behavior "bribing". We get all sorts of rewards for the work we do....money being the main one. When you do what is expected of you and you're a positive role model, you get your reward. I'm not advocating giving students candy for simply sitting in class and breathing, but I don't feel guilty for throwing out a tootsie roll or two to some exemplary students in a class of goofballs.
     
  13. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I think if your bribes are content related, like in your case everything French in a French class, it's not really a bribe but a reward which is ok.
    Bribing such as giving them food / candy, excessive free time, or things that go against school policy are wrong and would not have positive effects.
    But doing math games as a reward instead of math problems after another (as long as it's teaching the same content) is not a bribe, it's classroom management :)
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Dec 5, 2012


    Rockguykev
    I wish someone at some point had told me that my curriculum design is by far the most important tool I had for classroom management. My students know every day they have a choice. They can behave to my expectations and learn my way or they can behave like children and learn the way the state of California dictates which is by reading a textbook and answering multiple choice questions.

    Usually once of following through on my threat and stopping a lesson mid-stream to switch over is enough to stop any future problems. It might be a bit late for you to go this route but a week or two of hardcore drill and kill might help them realize that you have a job requirement to teach them but not a requirement on how to do it.



    Good advice. :)
     
  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    My students can't have ANY down time. I know they are quite a bit younger than yours, but it is true for them, too. Last year's class could handle some down time and made productive choices and worked well together. This year's class has different needs, so I have had to change how I approach certain things.
     
  16. Newb

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    Dec 6, 2012

    Well, I went in and re-arranged my classroom again yesterday, breaking the students up into small groups of 3-4 and scattering them around the room as best I could. Then I re-wrote my rules again to clarify them and set a consequence policy where they only get 3 strikes for the week. The most disruptive, hot-headed student in that class gave me flack for it, but the rest were ok. In my 2 other classes, the students blew up and said they couldn't possibly comply with such a harsh policy and it started a lot of arguing, but I just kept plowing through with a bunch of yelling.

    I got observed today. The kids were pretty well behaved in there. I still don't know how I scored, but I anticipate it was poorly. This was not the lesson I'd originally planned to teach for my observation (that was a week ago, when he called in sick and told me "just do that lesson next week" on 5 minutes notice--it wouldn't work out of sequence, anyway).

    The only thing the AP would tell me was that I clearly didn't plan (I've been planning for days and was up until 4:30 revising it yet again, but the students were so lost on one bit of the lesson that I couldn't even get to the last 3/4) and that I clearly didn't care about my job because that was the most boring thing he'd ever seen. He said he knew some ways I could fix it, but when I asked for feedback, all he said was "be more entertaining."

    If I still have a job in January, I guess I need to become a master entertainer who makes every lesson something that keeps the kids excited and rolling in the aisles with laughter and glee every minute of every day, all while constantly citing specific state standards and moving them into different groupings at least 3 times. That is what our state says I must do just to be considered "solid," though still not worthy of tenure, along with 4%+ improvement on their test scores and overall growth of 4%+ on the schoolwide scores.

    I honestly feel like I made a horrible mistake by going into teaching.
     
  17. txteach2b

    txteach2b Comrade

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    Dec 6, 2012

    What subject do you teach, and what grade level?

    There was a teacher I once worked with who was asked by the students, "Why can't you teach like Mrs. X? She's more fun!" He responded that he was trying to prepare them for college, and that their college professors wouldn't make class all fun and games. I heard a couple of years later that some students said Mrs. X made the class TOO entertaining, with videos, games, and other stuff, and that they COULDN'T learn. I thought that was pretty interesting to hear. Being more entertaining doesn't always work.
     
  18. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Dec 6, 2012

    Newb, I genuinely think you need to get away from that school and that administration. With an administration that hostile and overbearing, I doubt things would improve much even if the kids did love you.

    Have you ever considered teaching abroad? It'd be a nice break and add a little something interesting to your resume.
     
  19. GTB4GT

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    you didn't make a mistake by becoming a teacher. You just were unfortunate in the school you picked to begin your career. You need to get into a better environment.

    I believe you are young and may be concerned about your "future" but it doesn't sound like losing that particular job would be a bad thing.

    I wouldn't want to work for a person like that. The pay is not worth it.
     
  20. Meggy

    Meggy New Member

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    Dec 7, 2012

    Newb - I'm new to this forum but not to teaching, so can I jump in? Firstly I agree with all the comments regarding a consistent whole school disciplinary code, it is essential to have both rewards and sanctions clearly laid out for students and staff alike. But there are some things you could reflect on which might help you.

    As a trainee teacher mentor, my guess is that your carefully brilliantly crafted lesson plans and resources have all gone South in the face of trying to crack a hard class, which means the lessons have lost momentum before you take the register.

    So firstly why is this class hard? Kids hate to fail - don't we all? Commonly the work set is over their heads so they switch off and begin to misbehave. You only need to do it once and the pattern is set.

    Go back to basics and give them something to do before they even sit down. Smile, say "Hi Freddy" etc - and hand out a resource to each as they come in the door or have it on their desk - you can come up with something fun and learning based for any subject. Just make sure everyone can do it, can understand it and can achieve success. Have another small but engaging task ready and move them onto it as soon as the register is done. Give time deadlines on the whiteboard - there are literally hundreds on the web you can display - some play themes like Thunderbirds for 3 minutes ....lots of possible option there!

    Which leads me to the level of work you are setting. Make it easy, give them something they can achieve and which will keep them busy for five minutes - let them work in pairs one day then alone - mix it up. One of the best techniques to calm and settle a class is getting them to copy something down from a book or whiteboard. Probably the commonest causes of classroom chaos for new teachers is expectations and setting the work at a demanding level before gaining the trust and respect of the kids. Give them achievable tasks which encourage success and let the trust build first - they will be far more willing to follow where you take them.

    Experienced teachers know pace is incredibly powerful in getting and keeping momentum - they inject it effortlessly when kids get restless or challenging. The above is a way of injecting pace at the start and allowing you time to get control. But set the lesson work level and resources using the KISS principle for the first few weeks and I promise, the class will begin to respond in a more positive way to you. Hope this helps.
     
  21. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Dec 7, 2012

    you didn't make a mistake by becoming a teacher. You just were unfortunate in the school you picked to begin your career. You need to get into a better environment.

    I agree with this!

    Now what though? I suggest that you do the following which appears to take a lot of guts, but you have nothing to lose and everything to win with this approach.
    Do one of the following:

    1. E-mail the teachers, and say that you are a first year teacher, and really hope to be the best teacher that you can be. You wonder if any teacher would be willing to give up 10 minutes of their prep time to come and observe you. Ask them if they'd honestly give any feedback of what they notice that could be improved.

    OR

    2. Find a teacher you get along well with and/or trust that you could ask to come in and observe you.

    The feedback you got from the VP is so unhelpful. You need some info that is more specific. Would the academic coach come in and observe you?

    I would get the book Tools for Teaching immediately as well.

    Good luck to you in your tough situation.
     

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