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  #1  
Old 12-04-2012, 12:19 PM
Newb Newb is offline
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Tennessee
High School Teacher
Job in Danger: How to get students' respect?

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!?!?
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  #2  
Old 12-04-2012, 01:15 PM
Ms.SLS Ms.SLS is offline
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CA
High School Teacher
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.
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  #3  
Old 12-04-2012, 01:23 PM
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Peachyness Peachyness is offline
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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.
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  #4  
Old 12-04-2012, 04:30 PM
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BumbleB BumbleB is offline
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Everything mentioned above is awesome!!

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.
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  #5  
Old 12-04-2012, 05:26 PM
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hbcaligirl1985 hbcaligirl1985 is offline
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Huntington Beach, CA
Substitute Teacher
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?
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  #6  
Old 12-04-2012, 06:20 PM
Linguist92021 Linguist92021 is online now
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High School English (Alt. Ed.)
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.
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  #7  
Old 12-04-2012, 08:32 PM
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Tennessee
High School Teacher
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.
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  #8  
Old 12-04-2012, 08:44 PM
Linguist92021 Linguist92021 is online now
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High School English (Alt. Ed.)
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.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-2012, 11:11 AM
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Cobalt_Waves Cobalt_Waves is offline
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Posts: 68
Middle School Teacher
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newb View Post
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!?!?
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.
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  #10  
Old 12-05-2012, 03:36 PM
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Rockguykev Rockguykev is offline
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California
Social Studies
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.
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