student will NOT stop testing me. he makes me want to just give up.

Discussion in 'High School' started by funnyface07, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Feb 9, 2012

    Hi, I'm a long term substitute teaching math. I just started at the beginning of January. I teach 5 class periods, 2 really drive me crazy, but there is 1 student in one of the classes that just continuously tests me and acts out.

    The first two weeks of school, he would not stop talking. During notes, when I asked him to stop numerous times. Basically totally disrespectful. Sometimes I would stop class and say, "Are you finished?" and instead of shutting up they would say "Um, no" and keep talking. I wound up writing up him and two other boys and they got detention. Since then, the one boy has really turned around and is doing well. The second, I wrote up again for insubordination (they are not allowed to have backpacks in school, and I asked him to bring it back to his locker and refused and gave me a HUGE attitude). But he's a bit more manageable. The third.... does not stop.

    We already had a meeting with his mom (with all of his teachers) because he has emotional issues and a past drug problem, so the issue with him has been ongoing and I'm caught in the middle of it. The mother basically does not discipline him at all and she doesn't know what to do. It was suggested that he even go to an alternative school but the mother refused.

    He does absolutely no classwork at all. He rarely brings in his homework, and thats only because I email the mother the homework every single day. But my problem is that he will do anything to push my buttons. He gets very smart with me and asks in the middle of class "why do I have to know this?". No matter how I answer, he's not satisfied. He pops gum SO LOUDLY in the middle of class anytime my back is turned and when I tell him to stop he denies it. Because of him, he instigates other boys in the class, and I can barely get through any sort of notes because of the talking. Although I have to say... it has gotten slightly better, but some days are just impossible. I wind up giving a lot of group work or partner work, just so I don't have to fight to talk some days.

    Theres a bunch of difficult kids in that class, but nothing out of the ordinary. This kid seems to just set everything off. The days he's not there, the class is pretty quiet. My problem is that he doesn't care if he is disciplined or not. He is failing my class.

    He makes me dread coming to school. I feel terrible because I love some of my other classes. My mentor teacher and other teachers have told me that he is doing anything to can to try to get me to snap, and I know that. But I need this to end. I'm absolutely terrified of getting observed in that class, because I feel like he will purposely do something outrageous to make me look bad.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 9, 2012

    What are your consequences at school for students not following directions? Can you send a student to in school or out of the classroom somewhere? It is important to give him a chance each day but maybe use a three strikes you're out system where he cannot continue to disrupt the other students.
     
  4. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Feb 9, 2012

    My mentor teacher told me that I *can* send students to the main office if I need to, but "they don't really like that." She told me to do it if necessary but... I'm really caught between a rock and a hard place - I'm only a long term sub, and I REALLY want to get a job here, so I feel like if I do something that they don't "like" or if I'm constantly bringing this to administration, then it won't look good for me?

    On the other hand, I cannot let this continue. My principal already peeked into this class once and it was a mess. I WANT to get this class under control.
     
  5. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Feb 9, 2012

    Is there anything that motivates him? Does he have any hobbies, like cars or video games? Maybe you can use that interest to create a positive behavior plan for him. If he does something desirable (such as turning in homework or completing class work), he gets a special reward.

    Just know that you're not alone. I have a few who are just like the boy you describe. I work in a low income district so the problems associated with low SES come along with that: drug dependency, stealing, violence, gang activity, etc. It's rough, but if you can make a personal connection with this kid and show him that you want him to do well, maybe he'll change his mind about you.
     
  6. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Feb 10, 2012

    I believe in "making a personal connection" with students as much as anyone - I really do. But that happens after I can gain at will a student's pretty much undivided attention.

    Speaking both as a teacher and as a taxpayer, this student cannot be allowed to sabotage the education of all the other students in the room. That's non-negotiable, whatever his "SES," his rap sheet, or his hobbies. And why should he get a "special reward" for an occasional obeisance in the direction of minimal expectations?

    I think you need to make a plan with whoever happens to be actually effective in your school to make this student behave. That might be the principal, his Sped person, the social worker: I don't know. It's not his parents evidently. But this stuff has to end. You have to be an effective advocate for the other students in your class.

    Then, who knows? You just might be able to build a very important relationship with this student. But first things first.
     
  7. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Feb 10, 2012

    Because when you find that connection, the student is much more likely to work for you.

    As a teacher I understand weighing the needs of the class over the needs of one, but as a person with a disability and a parent of a child with an emotional disability, my child is just as important as all the other kids in the class.

    I do agree, however, that outside staff resources may be needed to support THIS student and support the class. I also know that some high school students give up. They are ready to get out of there. Yet, posts time and time again will show that all it takes is that one special teacher who cares enough to reach out and connect with the student and show the student that no matter what, they matter. So sometimes connection first IS important. The student is testing you. How will you respond?

    Having said that, things DO need to change. Yet at the same time you need to remember this is NOT personal. Stop being timid of the student. The student can sense that. Treat it as a professional situation you are problem solving. Don't let him see that he has pushed your buttons. Don't give in to any personal power struggles. Have you asked other teachers about how he works in their class? If it is the same, could you invite a staffing to discuss how to support this student?

    I realize that high school is a different ballgame than elementary but I do get upset when I see teachers give up on students. I know that's not you or you wouldn't be here asking questions. Just remember, it's not the time to give up. Quite the opposite. The student NEEDS you.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 12, 2012

    it is very hard when students are testing you - hard to tell which battle to pick and handle, and which one to ignore.
    I'm still learning to deal with issues, once in a while I have a break through, but it will take me years when I can say I've mastered this.
    Normally these are the things I try to remind myself:
    1. most of the time the student's behavior have nothing to do with the teacher. We can sit there and try to talk to him or figure out what the cause is, but we may never get to it. He may be bored / may have a negative attitude towards education, the specific school or the subject, have undiagnosed needs and difficulties, issues from home. He may have students in the class that are influencing him, he might want to impress them with his defiance, etc. Etc, Etc.
    2. I try to address each issue separately, this can take time, but the more 'tricks' I overcome, the less he can use.
    2a. For example if he's popping gum when I turn my back, I need to alter my strategies to never turn my back to students. This also eliminates flying objects (airplanes, pencils, erases), students' things being taken, students getting hurt, whistling, outbursts, talking and not knowing who it is.
    2b. I was always told not to ask rhetoric questions. 'Are you finished?' You really don't want to know if he's finished, you want him to stop, so it is better to say "I need you to stop".

    I think you need to come down on students like this HARD.
    One of my class periods were a nightmare. since Jan 13, a new grading period, I got mostly new students, in this class they were all new to me.
    2 were a nightmare, 4 more were pretty bad, 2 were great. only 8 students, but they were the worst class.
    Through my actions I have shown them that I would not tolerate their disrespect, and I was pretty consistent with it. It came to the point that I would line them up outside for just not participating. Lining them up was great, because technically they didn't get in trouble, but all the probation officers saw it, and the students hated it. Outside I would kind of give them a lecture, then bring them back in. I did that 2-3 times in the past month.

    Pretty soon the one nightmare guy became awesome, the other nightmare became just pretty bad. One of the bad guy became much better.
    This past week (Monday they had a BAD day), the rest of the week they were awesome.
    The class dynamic became: 1 pretty bad, 1 so-so, 3 great and 3 awesome.
    On Friday I had to kick out the only bad guy, and the rest were just awesome. I told them that except for Monday they have been my best class. They even looked up at the board to see how many p.a.t. minutes each class earned, and they saw that I wasn't making it up. I continued telling them that I was bragging about them to some of the officers and other teachers and even called them my little angels.

    Their eyes grew big, and asked me: did you tell them angels?? They were shocked. I sensed a total turn around in their attitude toward me. I know we're supposed to praise them, but I always have such a hard time for praising a student for one little thing he had done, or for basically doing what's expected. But this showed me that it does work.
     
  9. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Feb 12, 2012

    I, too, am a teacher and taxpayer. I am a special education teacher and, believe it or not, most "bad kids" are using their misbehavior as a way to get attention because they don't get enough at home. Or their parents give them only negative attention and make them feel like they're good for nothing. By creating a system where they do the right thing and get rewarded, they see (maybe for the first time in their lives), that following the rules and being productive gets you more attention than being a jerk. There is ALOT of research behind positive behavior support saying that it does indeed work.

    I agree with you that it's not fair that the entire class is affected by this one student's misbehavior, but showing that troubled student that you care IS the way to regain control of the classroom. It's not about rewarding him for just existing and turning in a paper or two, it's about raising his self esteem so that he doesn't feel the need to act out negatively.
     
  10. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    Feb 13, 2012

    Agree that you can make a personal connection, etc, but also agree that your right to teach the class and the others' right to learn supersedes this kid's right to act out (no matter what his story is).

    This kid needs a clearly mapped-out behavior plan. He needs to be sat down (with parent/s, perhaps and admin or counselor) and told,
    1. Your behavior is not acceptable (be specific).
    2. Here is what I expect from you.
    3. Here is what will happen if you cooperate.
    4. Here is what will happen if you do not cooperate. (Be clear, first time this, next time this, 3rd time this; and what the "final" consequence is, i.e. suspension, whatever.)
    5. I want to see you succeed and I know you can do it. How can I help you succeed? (Don't let him or Mom launch into a litany of excuses!)

    Then you have to be extremely consistent. A lot of kids are just dying to find a person who will set a boundary and keep to it. You are right- he is testing you, and hoping desperately that you will prove trustworthy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  11. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Feb 13, 2012

    In over thirty years of teaching, I have never sent a student out of the room. That's right: never. Part of that is because I have been fortunate enough to work in pretty good communities, but part of it too is that I don't give up on any student.

    I believe that they can behave and expect that they will. I insist, doggedly, that they do so. I look for the very first opportunity to befriend them. I encourage them to believe that they can do the work, and I devise ways for them to succeed at it.

    That's what I do for all the kids, Sped or not. I don't remember the last time anyone complained.
     
  12. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Feb 13, 2012

    Thanks so much for all the advice. I talked to another special ed teacher who had him as an in-class support teacher last year, and she basically told me how he was the most problematic student she has ever had in 20 years, and all of the things she went through last year (she said "I lost many hours of sleep over him"... took the words right out of my mouth). She gave me a lot of good advice, in addition to what people have written here. She admitted that with her and a general education teacher in the room, it was a very tough year, and said with just ME in the room, that is REALLY tough. So, though not a solution, she made me realize that it really is just a very very tough situation that I'm in.

    I think I'm going to work with his case manager to create a behavior plan for him for my class. We'll see how it goes. I'm still very anxious and nervous for the rest of the year, though. :(
     
  13. funnyface07

    funnyface07 Rookie

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    Mar 16, 2012

    Kind of an update... he's been pretty under control lately, mostly because I wind up emailing his parents constantly (approximately every day) with homework or how his behavior is. All of his work gets done eventually and I'm kind of being ridiculously lenient with letting him make it up, but he still doesn't take notes. On Monday he was just horrible and I could barely get through notes because he was just being totally distracting and asking stupid questions on purpose.

    But then I went in on Tuesday and instead of letting him get on my bad side for the rest of the week, I tried being nice to him. I let him know that his work is all made up and I would really like him to try to do some classwork today. He took out a lacrosse ball and started bouncing it in class, which I promptly took away, but that was kind of it. The rest of the week, he was not as disruptive. The notes and what not is still an issue... but today he actually had his homework done :woot: A very, very small accomplishment... but for him, a major one. I told him I was really glad that he did it.

    I split the class up into groups and let him work with his friends today (which I initially thought I was going to deeply regret, since his friends are all of the most disruptive students in my class). Surprisingly... it worked kind of well! The class was the most quiet they've been for any kind of partner work or group work since, well.. ever. And they did actually do work (they didn't complete the assignment totally, but they got much more done than they usually do). This may be something I try more often.
     
  14. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Mar 17, 2012

    Sounds like real progress to me!
     
  15. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    Mar 17, 2012

    Well done. Thanks for the update! and for not giving up on that kid.
     

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