students throwing things

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by chessimprov, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

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    Nov 7, 2010

    I need a lot of help with this issue. I have a problem with students throwing things. I know that if I write up a student for throwing things, that may get a verbal warning and it may not even sound that serious if it is a small paper ball because the implication is that a paper ball "does not hurt that much" and another implication is that "there are too many students for this and that" that everything must be kept in the classroom.

    If I see people throw stuff like pennies or pencils, broken or not, they are probably considered more serious.

    A few students are even throwing stuff at me (behind my back). I've tried to setup the room and my computer so that my back is not turned. It seems ridiculous I even have to concern myself with this. It is more common in at least two schools in this district for students to throw things at each other, but at the teacher not so much. I now work hard not to keep my back completely turned, which helps. It is very sick that I have to do this though.

    I also have issues with racial prejudice, my voice sounds funny to the students and too monotone to a few (but not to everyone, especially when I'm thinking about and trying not to speak monotone), and maybe other things I cannot think of.

    I've been making calls good and bad when I can, trying to consider appropriate timing, talking to students 1-1 sometimes asking to talk with them just outside the door for one minute (but still looking in), or going up to them 1-1. I know the students like it when I go up to them 1-1 rather than answer in front of the whole class, and they don't make as big a deal when I answer in front of the whole class if they ask me something in front of the whole class first.

    I have attended as many football games as I could, stood out in a positive way with spirit at their home coming game, and slowly try to relate to more students if I find out their skills/interests are in chess or Scrabble particularly.

    Hopefully my organization of a trip to the African American museum and an MLK Day Festival will all pan out well. They both have been approved by the principal already, and I have as many details as possible for both events.

    I'm worn out from my job, my family complaining out stupid things like how I'm not doing a good enough job keeping my place in more perfect order, and never feel like I have enough time to figure out and put things altogether. Any help you think you can give is appreciated. Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
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  3. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Nov 7, 2010

    It sounds as though you are doing many good and positive things. You are teaching a rough group of students. It is not ridiculous at all that you have to be concerned about positioning yourself so that students do not throw things at you or at others. I have been in classes where I would not turn my back on students.

    The fact that you are aware of issues about your voice and about how best to approach students to discipline shows that you are doing everything you can to make things go well for your students.

    My suggestion is to be easier on yourself. You don't have to figure everything out all at once. You don't have to keep your place in perfect order. Focus on the successes that you have had, and on the good things that you have planned for your students. Know that you are in the process of getting to be the teacher you want to be, and that you have made many important steps to get there.

    You will continue those steps, and celebrate every small success along the way. Be easy on yourself, and understand that we are all a work in progress. You have much to be proud of, so be sure to take time out and appreciate yourself.
     
  4. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Nov 8, 2010

    I had a group of paper throwers last year. I found that if you make it a non-issue (ie don't let it get you upset), they loose interest. Also, if you make them stay after to clean, it becomes less appealing.
     
  5. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Nov 8, 2010

    My suggestion- use a mix of Whole Brain Teaching, and Love and Logic.

    First, explain to your kids that having a room where everyone can learn without distraction is just as much their responsibility as yours. They need to make good decisions that will not take away from other people's chance to learn.

    Explain that choosing to throw things is both distracting as an action, and distracting because of the clutter it causes. That means that it is a problem that you will have to do something about, but that you will be reasonable about it.

    When a kid throws and you catch them, just smile, and shake your head a little sadly. Say something like this:

    "Aww, that was a poor decision. Well...I am going to have to do something about that, but later, not during class. Try not to worry about what is going to happen later." Smile again, and keep on teaching.

    When it is time for 'later' call the kids aside privately. Tell them you are going to have to do something about this, and since it concerns them they should be involved. Explain that it is nothing personal, but you must insure that everyone has a safe and effective environment for learning. To do that you cannot have people violating your rule against throwing things. With that in mind, the kid can choose between either of two forms of setting the problem right. You can either choose to serve a detention, or you can clean the room, or you might choose to explain at length why throwing things is a bad idea in class, your words not mine.

    Give them two of these choices only. Tell them to let you know first thing in the morning what they have chosen to do, and then smile, and say "Good luck with that." and walk away. Flatly refuse any further discussion or negotiation on their part. Just smile, and tell them it is time for them to go, and make a choice.

    If they do not want to choose either of these explain that it is a choice in itself. If you choose not to accept these choices you will have to turn it over to the administrators, and let them take disciplinary action.

    Go ahead, if it is a repeat offender and call home, just to let the folks know about the incident and the choices given. Then tell whoever handles discipline about the incident and the choices offered as well. The latter two will build both credibility and cooperation in most cases.

    Make a note to check in with the kid first thing in the morning. If they are uncooperative then write them up, or call the administrator you talked to the day before in to deal with them.

    No negotiation, only the choices you have offered.

    Try this and see how it works for you. For me, after doing this for a few weeks, that sad little smile, and 'try not to worry about what is going to happen later' brings a cringe of dread from the kids.
     
  6. diana

    diana Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    I wonder if some peer pressure would work here as well. Like, if you don't know who threw the object, you could ask the thrower to fess up (and then discipline them). No kid is probably going to confess, so that's when you say you'll be forced to punish the whole class if no one is willing to take responsibility. If the thrower wants his peers to like him, then he'll have no choice to fess up. And if you do end up having to discipline the whole class, they'll be more mad at the thrower than you because you tried to be fair.
     
  7. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

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    Nov 15, 2010

    I have considered this, but many other colleagues and the principal have told me that the students will actually just hate me more and not the thrower because they are being punished. It would create an environment where it was all of the students against me rather than a few or so bad apples and the rest just trying to stay out of it. Considering what I've experienced and how the students react and talk to each other, I'd say this is more than likely to happen, and that a class punishment will not work out well. I actually considered giving an entire section after school detention.

    What I said about approval of the trips, I just realized what I posted. I meant the ideas to submit the trips were approved, but not the trips themselves (yet.) :/
     
  8. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Nov 15, 2010

    It sounds like you are taking several good (and practical) approaches to the issue already, chessimprov. You are already doing many things most teachers would recommend.

    I was going to suggest implementing Whole Brain Teaching as well, but I like PowerTeacher's combination of WBT with Love and Logic better. Making them aware that their actions will have consequences and they are the ones making choices about both (actions and consequences) will help them understand the impact the actions have on others and will hopefully encourage them to consider their decisions more carefully and begin making better choices.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Nov 15, 2010

    Power Teacher... that is so crafty!
     
  10. diana

    diana Rookie

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    Nov 18, 2010

    I still wonder how to deal with the misbehaving kids you don't catch in the act. If no one confesses, what else can a teacher do besides punish the whole class? And I'm thinking of something like a repeat offense, where it has happened once and you already gave the class a warning.
     
  11. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Nov 18, 2010

    I have a class of paper throwers as well. Not horrible, never at me, but enough that it's annoying. When I catch them I make them stay after and clean the floor. Since it's my last class of the day there's definitely stuff on the floor for them to clean. I also make them stay to put the chairs up and off the floor. It has helped minimize it but definitely hasn't eliminated it.
     
  12. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

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    Nov 21, 2010

    Making people stay after to clean does not work out well because a lot of students have trouble with transportation, and I would not have a lot of support if too many students at once did not stay after school like they were supposed to. I cannot have them stay after class either because I have another class most of the time. I already have to use detentions for students being late to class. I already have "big" numbers for write-ups supposedly, so I can't keep adding more and more, and I have to keep things in the classroom more and focus more on extreme cases or cases where I was able to build up my case.
     
  13. The Substitute

    The Substitute Rookie

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    Nov 29, 2010

    Hi Chessimprov,

    If you are at the point where you are afraid to turn your back in your own classroom then I'd say that's fairly significant. From what you are telling us in your post I also suspect that you would rate highly on the mugability index, which is challenging when you are a teacher. I’d say it’s no wonder that you are worn out – trying to teach with this type of result is what often leads good people down the road to burnout.

    Although some fine advice has been offered here, I’d like to suggest taking a step further back and looking at the bigger picture. Rather than attempt to implement a particular approach to a particular behaviour like paper throwing, you and your students might be better served by revisiting your classroom management strategy as a whole strategy, because paper throwing sounds like it is just a visible symptom and not the underlying problem.

    One of the best treatments on this subject is by Fred Jones in his book ‘Tools for Teaching’. This is a clear, well written exploration of classroom managements that could be read in a few nights. It has some good advice for complete classroom management and not just incident management (which is the advice one is most likely to find on the internet but least likely to garner the desired results in the classroom). Unlike other systems I’ve looked at, the advice is also practical – the implementation cost is low (cost in time).

    From what you are saying it sounds like you are a very committed and compassionate teacher, but sometimes being committed and compassionate isn’t enough. This is where having the right tools becomes essential to doing our jobs to the best of our ability and being able to maintain our love and passion for teaching.

    A couple of years ago I took over a very tough class that had already gone through 3 teachers that year. I had to look after them for 6 weeks and I’ll be honest when I say that part way through week 1 I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it. This incident spurred me to study classroom management models and theory in much greater depth than I had previously. Fred’s book was amongst the best of the material that I read and digested and it made a strong impression on me and changed my overall management approach for the better.

    Have a look at this book. I think it will help.
     
  14. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Nov 29, 2010

    I also would recommend Tools for Teaching. It helped me figure out methods of management that worked well in a wide variety of situations.
     

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