I just started a new job this week (hired one week before school). I teach technology, computers(2) and one BLOCK of 8th grade math. I actually thought the math would be my best class, as that is my area of strength! Today was day one with the students. First three classes went great (technology and computers) I didn't get my class list until late last night for the math class because of the special ed additions! I have 21 students~ of which 10 are classified ~ 1/2 of them emotionally disturbed! and of my 11 approximately 1/2 don't give a **** I have in-class support ~ but the sp ed teacher told me she doesn't do MATH! What's up with that? Fact is 1/2 don't want to be there 1/4 want to and are sweet and the other 1/4 need extra help ~ with no help form the sp ed teacher! All of this and a 70 minute BLOCK! How am I going to get them in control? Monday we start lessons for real.... Any advice? I know how important it is to gain control in the beginning or we will have a very long year. PLEASE, PLEASE any suggestions for consequences that matter, rewards that may elicit positive behavior etc... I am pretty sure next week will either set the stage for a disastrous year or a productive one. Many of these kids who don't care have little or no support from home and need some structure and boundaries. I am open to suggestions.:help:

I think you need to find ways to make the math either interesting or important to them. In my school, 8th grade math does a lot with basic number operations (I think; I've taught 7th and 9th, not 8th.) So relate as much as possible to money; it's sure to get their attention. Print up a blank check template, and show them how to write out a check. Then print up a checkbook register and have them balance checkbooks (w/o calculators)-- it's great for work on decimal addition/subtraction. When you talk about percents, talk about things that matter in their lives. Talk about a 10% discount on an IPOD, or a markup of 8% on a home computer. The special ed aide thing should be handled on an adminstrative level. She's basically told you that she's taking off for the 70 minutes she's in your class. Unless that is mandated in her contract, I would say it's for the principal to handle. Can you give me more specifics on the syllabus??

I would find out what she means--does she not support in math, not teach math, or does she not understand the material so she feels uncomfortable helping. My sense is, the last one. If her difficulty is with the material, you may need to make time in your week (planning time?) to go over the upcoming week's lessons with her. If it is a case where she is, basically, refusing to help you need to, as Alice suggested, go to administration. If those students are legally entitled to support they must get it.

Keep the lessons simple and specific. Don't try to put too much in. Students shut down when they don't "get it." Start with things they know to build confidence. Analogies to interesting things will help. MONEY always helps. When I teach integers, I use the analogy of tigers (negative) and bears (positive). A bear and a tiger will fight to the death - both die resulting in a zero pair. I use this analogy all the way through my integer unit. They love talking about dead animals.