Some classroom management problems I'd like to iron out

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 7, 2013

    All I can say is that I am doing much MUCH better than last year in my classroom management. I can also say that I have good days and bad days, but mostly good days, though sometimes I forget them when I have my bad days.

    It would be nice to get rid of my bad days altogether or at least limit the emotional drop in my day to a dull pot-hole rather than a small ravine.

    I have some problems in my classroom I would like some ideas on. If anyone could give me some advice it would be amazing.

    1. Students who get up to sharpen their pencil or get tissues talk with each other and interrupt instruction
    2. Students spend way too long when they get up to sharpen their pencil or get a tissue.
    3. Students blurt out questions (sometimes very random questions) at inappropriate times, like during my instruction. (for instance, a figure shows an orange or something in a physics demo, and they'll ask something inane like, why are they using an orange instead of an apple? or Oranges are nasty.)
    4. There are a few students who I am sure are TRYING to throw the discussion off track, and I don't really know why the student(s) in question have a problem with me. One is way too smart for his own good, and will blurt statements that will get everyone off track. He is actually one problem in a period that has a myriad of other problems, a few of the most serious ones which I have already worked out mostly!

    5. I will kind of go off track here to describe this one period. So in addition to really smart manipulative kid (manipulative of other students, though I think he tries to sometimes manipulate me - he doesn't succeed though), I have a kid that CANNOT stay in his seat, and he gets sent out of the room frequently for being out of his seat, being disruptive, etc. He can be a sweet kid if he thinks he's the teachers' pet, but if he receives a consequence for his action, his face becomes a sneer and he's convinced that you hate him no matter how you deliver the consequence. If he's had a bad day, anytime you call him out for his behavior he will defensively respond.

    I have another student that has disruption problems. He tries to be goofy and loves attention, and will disrupt the class because he wants to be funny. He sits near a kid that will disrupt the class if he can, but he is also very smart.

    This student has a huge sense of what's fair and what's unfair, and will be as sarcastic as he can possibly be. He's actually very similar to the really smart manipulative kid, but less effective, and he has a personal thing against me, because he thinks I am unfair. Unfortunately, life is sometimes unfair, and I can't always treat him the same way as I treat other students. He's stopped doing work, and sometimes sneakily vandalizes the classroom.

    There was another student who had really strong issues. He is probably mistreated at home so he doesn't trust adults much, and thinks that if you call him out on behavior that you have it in for him, and he will respond by acting out further. We had many problems in the beginning of the year, but I somehow built a strong relationship with him and things are going well so far. Of course he has bad days and good days.

    There are a bunch of students who are very low, have attention problems, some serious social problems, and the other half of the class is extremely intelligent, and very ahead. In fact it's my highest class. It really is a real mixed bag in this class, and there are so many problems that I sometimes find it hard to figure out where to start. Most of my issues in CM stem from this period.
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    First, I have to again say I really admire your continuous improvement approach to education - very awesome that you're always looking to improve, even when you're already doing well.

    Thoughts/Questions:

    1) Are most of the behaviors you've described coming from a select few kids (e.g., the ones you've described in (4)) or are the issues with most kids?

    2) It seems that there is an underlying theme to behaviors in groups 1-4, which involves kids not taking a procedure or piece of instruction seriously. I'd be interested in your thoughts on why this is happening?

    3) The second half of your post is including multiple kids and multiple issues, and it probably makes sense for us to talk about them one at a time - maybe a fresh post for an individual student with individual concerns? Not to create more work for you, but I think our suggestions and problem-solving might get confusing if we're discussing multiple group- and individual-level issues at the same time :)
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    For the first three behaviors that you describe, they seem like minor behaviors in and of themselves, but when put together, they can cause a real problem. You need to consequence these each and every time that they happen so that the minor behaviors aren't able to become larger problems.

    One thing I've found with sharpeners is to have them around the classroom. I either ask the students to keep their own sharpener or I place handheld ones in different areas of the room and expect the students to use the one nearest their desk. You can do the same with tissues.
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    First 2 problems have several simple solutions. You just need to keep the students in their seat.

    I would do this one:
    you let the students know that they must come with 2 or 3 previously sharpened pencils, or as many as it takes to make it through 1 class period, or have their own handheld one (the one that keeps the pencil shavings inside) but in any case there will be no getting up to sharpening pencils.

    That's it. I'm a fan of keeping things simple. There is absolutely no need for consequences / warnings / behavior log / redirection for: getting up, for talking, for going to the sharpener using the longer route, for sharpening too many times in one class period, for taking too long to sharpen, for sharpening while you're trying to talk, etc. Keep them in their seat.

    The sharpening of the pencil is just an excuse to get out of the seat, and sometimes to talk to someone.
    At the lock up students don't have pencils, we provide them. I sharpen them. And I have never ever seen students so picky about their pencils! It has to be needle sharp. Of course, because getting out of their seat is more appealing than sitting.
    So I started having 5 extra pencils sharpened already, and when they ask to sharpen, I give them a new one, and then I sharpen those when I choose. Sometimes I refuse, because the pencil itself is fine.

    It definitely cut down on the need for pencils sharpening, because what they wanted was to get up, and talk, and the pencil was just the tool.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    3. Blurting out. I've had my fair share of classrooms who blurted things out all the time, or just some kids who would do it.
    There are times they sort of 'forget' (although we could argue, do they really forget?), and other instances where they're not doing it on purpose, it just sneaks out.
    And there are the times when the kid is doing it to derail the topic, cause a disruption, etc, and those are more serious, because in this case he made a choice of doing it.

    I think the mos important thing to remember is to never ever answer such questions. You might ignore it, (give them a look or whatever), or you might address it and say: you must raise your hand, and wait until you're called on to speak. This would be in first scenario.

    In the 2nd scenario, I would give a consequence (follow your normal routine of giving warnings, etc. for being disruptive).

    I would definitely give the whole class a reminder on talking without raising hands, and would specifically bring up instances of questions blurted out, why they're troublesome (interfering with instructions, etc). This is how I would do it.
     
  7. Ms.SLS

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    Why not? Or I should say, obviously, keep a closer eye on this kid, but speak to him the same way and give the same consequences. (Unless he's used up his minor offense consequences and then he should know WHY he has a different behavior plan).

    Example:
    Susie got excited and blurted out a question. I say: "Susie, please don't interrupt me. I don't interrupt you; show me the same courtesy." Or easier, "Susie, don't interrupt." and then move on.

    Johnny (who is a historical trouble maker) is feeling mischievous and decides to blurt out: "this is stupid. I hate this class." I say: "Johnny, don't interrupt." and move on. Obviously, if Johnny keeps interrupting, he gets a more severe consequence, but I KNOW a lot of times middle school kids just do things to see if they can get a rise out of you. Sometimes, They WANT you to be irritated with them so they can claim you HATE them and are PICKING on them. Right?

    So if you do your very best to absolutely ignore their needling and picking and calmly follow through, they lose a lot of joy.

    Of course, harder to say than do, but something I've worked on my self and have found to be successful.
     
  8. TheBagLady

    TheBagLady Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2013

    Ugh I deal with a lot of blurting out too. I hate sounding negative, so I try to just say "my turn!" instead of a "don't..." or "stop..." prompt. It also lets them know they'll have a chance to share in a bit.

    At the beginning of the year, I tried to nix the sharpener and do pencil trading. You keep a stock of sharp pencils and when they need to sharpen, they hold up their pencil and you just trade it. They won't have to get up at all. OK, my resource classes go through pencils like CRAZY, so I couldn't keep up with it. However, I think if you assign a few responsible students to be your sharpeners, I bet this is doable. :)

    Also, do you have a rule only one at the sharpener? I've had the same problem with the drinking fountain, so I made that rule. Student A has to be completely back in their seat before student B can get up.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    1. Definitely from a select few kids. In fact I can probably narrow it down to two or three.

    2. As to why they're not taking the procedure seriously, I think a lot of it might have to do with my enforcement of the rules, and also because of the mixed bag of a class I have at that point. As I said, that class has so much going on at all times, that my attention is constantly ALL over the room, because the students are always doing something or another, and I have my own duties to complete as I circulate the classroom. So I may not catch everything that happens. I hear a lot of "Well, so-and-so didn't get in trouble so why am I?" They see another student get away with something once and they think they can get away with it.

    3. I'll see if I can do this later. =]
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    I have handhelds around the classroom now, because of problems I was having earlier in the year with sharpeners. I feel like I'm constantly reminding students to use them instead of the sharpener, or telling them that they can take them to their desks instead of waiting at the table to use it.

    A lot of the issue is just using them at inappropriate times which could be fixed by reminding students to raise their hand to sharpen their pencils. The problem is that so many of them just don't do it and get frustrated when they can't just get up and it starts a whole big scene that I sometimes just don't want to get into, especially with all of the other things going on at the time.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Well, like I said in a previous post, I just can't catch everything. Also there is a specific student in that class that has certain issues that require special handling and sometimes ignoring of his behavior because he feeds on that attention. All the other students realize that he requires this special treatment, and I think this other student does too, but he wants to make a fuss and like you said he wants to claim that I am picking on him.
     
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Here is one specific problem I could use some advice with. In that period, as I said a lot of them are jokers. They like to crack jokes at inappropriate times, even if they're framed as questions, etc. Of course this disrupts instruction.

    Should I:

    a. wait until all the chatter dies down while I just calmly stare at the class, and then continue teaching?

    b. wait until the chatter dies down while I calmly stare at the class and then address the specific student who made the crack telling him that that was not an appropriate time to make a joke, so that's one.

    c. wait until the chatter dies down while I calmly stare and address the class as a whole not singling anyone out, and not giving any consequences?

    d. immediately address the student privately and give a consequence and then quietly wait for the class the calm down?

    or

    e. immediately address the student privately, wait for the class to calm down and then address the class?

    In another situation what if a student asks an inappropriate question, or a joke, and the entire class is silent waiting to see what I would do?

    a. ignore the crack?

    or

    b. publicly address the student who made the crack and tell him that it is an inappropriate time?

    And what if he follows anytime I address him with "WHAT? But what did I do wrong?! Just for asking a question? Blah blah blah..." They they tend to go off into. I remain silent and they get no attention from me, but their peers all feed into it afterwards and I get lost on what to do.
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

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    I don't know if it is the right thing to do, but it generally is effective for me:

    After I catch onto Jr's tricks, I have a conversation outside with him privately. I let him know that I know what he's doing, that he needs to stop and I won't allow him to suck any more time from me or the class. I give him a specific example "WHAT? But what did I do wrong..." and I tell him that he will face an immediate consequence the next time(s) he starts up. Then I follow through.

    Usually the consequence is getting bounced to another classroom and a call home. Continued disruptions get detentions and/or referrals. The key is to word everything carefully. The student is being disruptive - he isn't just asking questions.
     
  14. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Two things I've tried with my students...

    About sharpening pencils...I don't allow students to sharpen pencils during instruction. If they need a pencil (because their pencil breaks, I give them one, I'll take it back later).

    Every year I have a conversation with my students about how pencil sharpening is disruptive and I brainstorm solutions with the class. They always suggest handhelds and not sharpening during instruction. Then I usually take away the electronic sharpener if it becomes a problem.

    As for the jokes, I would suggest having a conversation with the class about ignoring behaviors. My students always seemed to understand that when they are talking or laughing at a student trying to get us off task, they would end up with less work time. By directly pointing this out, many students would ignore or tell the student cracking jokes to knock it off.
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Always address the student privately. You can talk to the whole class about allowing these jokes to be a disruption, but you want to allow this student to preserve his dignity.
     
  16. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Are these call-outs when you are checking for understanding-asking questions or blurts at other times when you are directing a lesson but not seeking verbal from students?
     
  17. Ms.SLS

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    Feb 9, 2013

    I would say that the "joke questions" are attention seeking behavior. So, don't give the kid that satisfaction. I have a ramp outside my class, so I ask the disrupting kid to step outside. (a. gets him away from his friends, he looses the cool power. (b. I can have a private conversation with him.

    When I have the rest of the class doing something independent, I step outside and we have a little conversation about why it's not appropriate and "no, you were not JUST asking a question, please explain to me why I am upset with you etc etc." Then I give a warning of some sort (I will call your mom/you will get detention) if it happens again. Kiddo gets sent back inside.
     
  18. GeetGeet

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    Feb 9, 2013

    Mechanical pencils. Problem solved ;)
     
  19. GeetGeet

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    Feb 9, 2013

    It sounds to me like some of your issues stem from inconsistency of enforcement. Honestly, I have that same problem, and I am constantly frustrated at myself--for instance, when a kid blurts out an answer and its correct, and I just take the answer and forget to remind him to raise his hand. I almost always remind kids to raise their hand, but even allowing that a few times can be problematic. And I do believe that sometimes we don't realize how often we fail to enforce a rule!

    I'd recommend choosing the behaviors that annoy you the most and be sure to be extra vigilant about addressing those. Also, prevention is key--Since my students sit at tables, I try to have a small bin at every table that has the basics--sharpeners, pencils, erasers, paper, and whatever else they might need for that period.

    As for the kids who complain about you being unfair or picking on them--I find that one of the best ways to respond to them is to calmly and politely tell the student that if he has an issue, now is not the time to discuss it, but they should see you after class talk it out--and be genuinely interested in what they are upset about (If the kid continues to grumble during class, pull him outside for a short talk or make him come after school or during lunch). If the kid really does have an issue, he will be likely to stay after, and then you should definitely listen to whatever grievance he has. You may learn something from him. 9 times out of 10, though, the student won't stay after because all they were doing was trying to make a scene.
     
  20. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    I've heard a lot of teachers complaining before that with mechanical pencils the problem is not having / asking for lead. So then it's not about going to the sharpener, but disrupting other by asking for lead. The main problem is if no one has lead (or claim so) the kid is stuck not being able to write. You can always sharpen a pencil.
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Feb 9, 2013

    Usually when I am not seeing verbal input from students but sometimes when I am.
     

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