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Old 09-27-2006, 04:36 AM
blenser blenser is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 3
Inner City Urban School Behavior Management

I work as a permanent building sub in an inner city school where most students have not been trained at home to behave and many are working below grade level and 70 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. Before this experience, I was a believer in intrinisic rewards, but those kind of rewards fall on deaf ears in this environment. I would never have thought of using candy as a reward, but I have started using a fake money management system with candy. I give each student 3 dollars at beginning of day. If the students have any dollars at end of day, they may trade each dollar for one piece of small candy...tootsie pop, dum dum sucker, etc. This seems to work for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but 4th and 5th grade classes are another story.

I have been in one particular 5th grade classroom that is iparticularly disrespectful and has about 5 or 6 disruptive students. The regular teacher has class divided into tribes and uses a money managment system that allows tribes to pool their money. Well, I used his system the first day and it the whole class went haywire. Two students ended up in in-school suspension, while five others received referrals home for parent signatures. The 2nd day, I used my money management system with dollars and candy it worked slightly better. What worked better the 2nd day, was writing the letters R-E-C-E-S-S on board. Everytime they got loud, I would take away one letter and five minutes of recess (walking laps around track instead of playing with other kids). Each time, I erased a letter the class would quiet down and allow me to teach my lessons.

I am going to be in this same 5th grade class for three more days this week and I am seeking advice for any helpful behavior techniques for inner city students.

Old 09-27-2006, 07:23 AM
Ima Teacher's Avatar
Ima Teacher Ima Teacher is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 4,151
Middle School Teacher
I don't work in an inner-city school, but in a rural school with very similar issues. We're between 60-70% free-reduced lunch with many lacking in family support, and many working below grade level.

I don't use regular rewards becasue I find that I ned up with the "what'll you give me if I do it" attitude. I prefer teaching expectations & procedures . . . and reteaching until they finally get it . . . which can take a LONG time for some of them. I've found that in spite of what they SAY, they really do thrive on routines and high structure.
Old 09-27-2006, 08:59 AM
MissFrizzle MissFrizzle is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 6,439
I agree with Ima teacher. When I worked in the inner city, it was all about what will I get if I do it. I ended up broke by the end of the year.
be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle
Old 09-27-2006, 11:10 AM
synapse synapse is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 320
One reason it is "all about what will I get if I do it" is that educator's first response to urban children (particularly urban children of color) is to control them. When considering how to most efficiently control children, the first (often only) intervention that comes to mind is the use of behavioral interventions, frequently in the form of tangible reinforcers. The result is that students do not develop an internal sense of motivation. They rely on the external control that we provide. In fact, this often reduces the intrinsic motivation in topics and activities that they were initially motivated to pursue (google the topic, you'll find lot's of research).

I am in favor of tangible reinforcers when they are absolutely necessary. If they are necessary use the smallest amount possible to accomplish the task and have a clear plan to ween students from the program.

However, the more important, more difficult issue is teaching students alternate ways to behave. This has to be done in a classroom and school where they feel that they belong and have input. It has to be delivered from teachers who demonstrate a willingness to develop positive relationships with students and who can teach interesting, developmentally appropriate and engaging lessons. Routines and structure are very helpful, but don't overlook relationship and high quality instruction.
Old 09-27-2006, 01:57 PM
MissFrizzle MissFrizzle is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 6,439
I think that the problems in these select schools have more to do with what goes on at home or in the neighboorhood. It's just part of the all about me mentality that is running rampant in society. There was a time when children were taught to respect others. Sadly, it is not the case anymore. It's discouraging to here teachers taking the blame for things parents need to be responsible for.
be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle
Old 09-27-2006, 02:37 PM
synapse synapse is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 320
Perhaps true...the reality is that the role teachers play has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Laying the blame on parents and communities does no good for us or our students. It is counter productive. I look at the students I have in front of me. Get to know them. Give them what they need to be as successful as possible. Work hard to develop relationships with families...etc. These are the things that I can control.
Old 09-27-2006, 04:41 PM
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cutNglue cutNglue is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 9,162
Kindergarten Teacher
My class has a "if you ask, you don't get it rule" and "you dont' get it every time" rule. It's more of a on the spot reward rather than consistent. I use it often to make a point.

I like the R-E-C-E-S-S thing. LOVE it!

behavior, city, management, school, urban

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