How to Deal with a large out of control first grade class?!
Last week was my first year teaching in a first grade classroom. I have 30 students. The class is completely chaotic - to the point where I can barely teach! I would say about half the kids are bad and have the kids are well behaved. The class gets so out of control all the time. Most of the kids DO get upset when I tell them they are misbehaving or I reprimand them, but still nothing works. For my behavior plan, each student starts with 3 froggies. When they misbehave, they lose a frog and they continue to lose their frogs. If they improve, they can earn back a frog. If they have a perfect week of 3 frogs, they can choose a prize from the prize box on Friday. Their parents also will get a record of how many frogs they had each day. I also have "Caught Being Good" Tickets that studenst get if they are behaving exceptionally well. I also have a class reward chart where they get a sticker on their chart if the class behaves well as a whole/does something good. I also have charts like that for each group - where if a group does well, they get a sticker for their group chart.
Anyway - none of that works for a lot of the kids. It is literally anarchy half the day and if I take their frogs or implement any of my behavioral plans, they still are loud and crazy. Sometimes, if I move a child to another table/desk, they just walk right on back to their original seat. Many children just don't listen! If I pull a child out of line, they go right back into line! My P tells me that it's not my fault and it's just an out of control bunch.. but I can't even teach! He claims it will get better, but I don't know what to do. We can't get through ANY activities. Apparently, last year in Kindergarten, the teacher had no behavior management and it was pretty much a free for all.. so I think that is part of the issue. And that there are SO many of them! Anyway, it is really hard and miserable. I go home in tears and I almost want to cry AT school. Any advice at all???
One of the problems is that you have 30 of them. I only have 11 kids, and I could not imagine dealing with what you are dealing with. Can you demand an aid, so you can split them up and work with half of them or something? Or, request parent volunteers? As far as your system, have you tried things like points for extra recess time, or free time, or even "sit where you want"? I am really sorry you are having such a hard time, but it sounds like the real problem is that there are 30 students. Sorry that I can't really help.
I have no experience with this grade level, but feel I need to at least offer some support. How long have you been in school? It sounds as though these little darlings need some time, and continued consistency to get used to the routines and behaviour expectations you have. Continue to reinforce your expectations, build in lots of opportunity for your students to move during the course of the day and things should improve given some time.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop
When I was ST in first grade I started caught being good- but it meant I would write the names of those who were being on their best behavior up on the board for all to see- at the end of the week or sometimes two weeks I would let them pick a reward from my index cards (all free- no physical rewards) including lunch with the teacher- which mostly the entire group picked this was at the end of the year. (In K we had to earn hearts- five hearts to earn free time because the kids made our hearts go pitter patter!) Earlier in the year they need some expediency! I would write good notes home or make a good phone call home- those were some choices from my index cards. Some students at first needed to have a physical reminder if they were not being their best- so occasionally I would have a lose five minutes group on the bottom right. That meant they would lose five minutes of recess/whatever.
I also had a kindness jar which all students could add to for whatever reason and we would work towards a class reward. Finally, I had a token system. Each student had 5 tokens with their numbers and each time I caught a student doing the right thing or I really needed to get the kids attention I would pull out my token bag and place a token in it for someone doing the right thing or I would call someone and tell them to place their token in the bag. Then when I needed a helper I would pull out of the bag. Sometimes it would be someone to sit in the author's chair or it would be someone to pick our music and movement activity or a brain break idea or a story whatever!
I also had the rules written and posted- we referenced those daily. Some mornings we would start writing in our journals the rules and then they would write which rule they were going to work the hardest on that day and how they would do that.
For consequences we rarely had students sit out from recess, but that was simply to complete work- it was not behavioral and it was only on days we had indoor recess- so they missed sitting in silence for an educational movie. If they were disruptive during circle they went to their seats to think about it- they got a 30 second think and then came back ready for group. Those who could not sit at circle sat on a mat to clearly define their space and were assigned seating.
My 8th period class is your 1st period class, just older and 22 people instead of 30.
I stuck to my guns. I told them what I was going to do, and then I did it. Over and over and over again.
Finally they understood. I couldn't snuff out the talking completely (just the first day), but they were IN their seats, PAYING attention, and DOING what I asked.
That's all I could ask of them.
(As an aside, I kind of feel bad for these kids. I think all these kids were stuck in this class to get them out of the other classes. They have many more kids than the rest (22 rather than 10), and they are a completely different demographic makeup than the entire rest of the classes. All we can do is be the teacher that expects something out of them and create as much order as we can.)
First I would recommend taking a look at your classroom set up. Are the students arranged in groups? If so, I would change them to rows, so that they are all facing front. This will cut down on distractions, and they will focus more on you than on each other.
Next I would take a look at your behavior plan.
Originally Posted by SCTeacher23
Most of the kids DO get upset when I tell them they are misbehaving or I reprimand them, but still nothing works. For my behavior plan, each student starts with 3 froggies. When they misbehave, they lose a frog and they continue to lose their frogs. If they improve, they can earn back a frog. If they have a perfect week of 3 frogs, they can choose a prize from the prize box on Friday.
You are focusing on misbehavior, which will in turn lead to more misbehavior. Try instead to focus on good behavior. Start out with 0 frogs, and when a student does well, they gain a frog. Because this is the beginning of the year, and because it is so chaotic, I would suggest using lots of frogs, rather than just three. Let students earn many frogs, because in this way they will have role models of good behavior to look at all day.
Don't take frogs away, though. If someone misbehaves, give them a consequence but leave the frogs alone. The misbehaving student can continue to earn frogs and redeem themselves. In this way, your focus, and therefore their focus, will be on all of the good behavior they are witnessing.
The fact that these chldren get upset when you tell them they are doing something wrong is a good thing. Your situation can be turned around, but you need to focus on what they are doing right. Also, give a narration of those who are doing the right thing. "Aniyah is sitting up, waiting quietly for the papers to be given out. Aniyah gets another frog."
"Louis is facing front in line with his hands by his side, Xavier is right behind him waiting quietly." You can do this type of narration all day, pointing out all of the well behaved students.
Students will respond to this type of behavior system, because it publicly acknowledges them for acting responsibly.
Last week was my first year teaching in a first grade classroom. I have 30 students. The class is completely chaotic - to the point where I can barely teach! I would say about half the kids are bad and have the kids are well behaved. The class gets so out of control all the time. ...
Forget the froggies, jars, and other token systems. They will not work because the kids do not take you seriously. They are testing to find out if you are, indeed, a teacher or a fake.
Why is it kids will act one way for one teacher and completely different for another? A friend (first grade teacher) describes her class much like yours. She does the tokens, time-outs, revoking privileges, calling parents, office etc. At times, these work but temporarily. After a day or two it's business as usual. She exchanges her class (math/LA) with two other 1st teachers two hours a day. According to her aide (she travels with class) the class never acts up in Mrs. P's room (one of her colleagues). My friend attributes it to the notion Mrs. P must scare them to death (although she has never observed to find just exactly what Mrs. P is doing).
The stereotype if you have good discipline you must be mean and not smile until Christmas is false. What research has shown is effective teachers - in terms of time on task and cooperation - are anything but drill sergeants. What they are able to do is convey to students they "mean business".
If you are serious about classroom management and want to get discipline off your back get your hands on Fred Jones' Tools For Teaching. It has an underlying theme, "You will never control a room full of squirmy kids until, first, you learn to control yourself" - FJ.
I agree about focusing on the good behavior and earning something special or at least praise. I've subbed in schools where I felt I was just doing behavior management most of the day. It took a long time to get a class of K kids to really hear me and sit down for instructions at a few different schools- they were all over the place like cats! Use a bell or something that they can hear when it's noisy and practice ringing it and getting their attention. Be calm and assertive!
I also would recommend focusing on the positive behavior. I have used Tools for Teaching with first graders and it works well. You might also work on defining the behavior the children are using so they can define their own behavior. I also would agree with the adding and not taking away the earnings if you do an individual reward system also.
Also, you may want to really drill procedures, procedures, procedures. Adopt the word "friends" from the Kindergarten vocabulary. "Okay, Friends, we need to talk about how we line up. I know we can do it. Tom, come show us what the line leader should be doing. Suzy, let's join behind Tom. Notice how Suzy is looking towards the teacher and not talking? Fantastic, Suzy! You are showing excellent line behavior. See class. It's easy. This is exactly what I'm talking about. Okay, which Friend do I want to invite next? Arnold, you are being nice and quiet and I like respectful behavior. Can you join in behind Suzy?"
Go through all your procedures like this and really practice, practice, practice. Explain why you have some of your procedures. It is worth it to take several days to do this instead of fighting it all year long. Go through everything including handwashing, bathroom, hallway, pencil sharpening, etc. Make games of it. "Okay, I like eyes on me when we are walking in the hall." Give them a buggy eye look and stare them down and make a game of it. "Yep, I knew you could do it." Play some games that require following directions and turn taking. Select a few Friends to demonstrate. Then elect another group to try. Do it with control and teaching. Don't let them all try any activity at once. It's about how we can show we understand what to do.