Advice for a 1st Year Fourth Grade Teacher

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by FilipinaTeacher, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 9, 2010

    Hi Everyone,
    I am a new teacher (fresh out of college), and I am working at the school I interned at. I am at a point of a frustrated point. My biggest issue is discipline. I have tried a variety of techniques suggested by several veteran teachers but I am at a point that it doesn't matter what I do, I know that the students do not take me seriously. I make sure to follow through with my discipline and I have a positive reinforcement plan as well as a plan for consequences.

    I know this seems like maybe a ridiculousness post to begin but I am asking for as much advice as I can obtain. I take advice with open arms.
    :thanks:
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 10, 2010

    I would keep some kind of reflection journal to really think about when something is working. Choose one or two strategies that you think are most helpful and stick to them for 2 weeks. Keep the journal and write in it at least twice a day (more if possible). Then look back to see if there is any improvement.

    What happens to me is I try something, it seems to be working and then I have a horrible day (I'm sick, its close to a holiday, etc). I think that the plan isn't working, but in fact it was just one day!
     
  4. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 11, 2010

    That's a great idea. Thank you for it. I am in a first year mentor program and I am doing something similar to that.
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 11, 2010

    It seems that your students don't see you as an effective disciplinarian, or that you don't follow through with consequences. (I'm not saying you are that person, just that the students see you in that light).
    Here is a strategy that I have used before with difficult classes. I have taken the students to boot camp. We go back to basics and begin as if it is a new year. No privileges, no talking, just working at their seat. Every infraction is met immediately with a severe consequence. If a child gets out of their seat without permission, they lose that seat. If they mess with things in their desk without permission, they lose the desk. Etc. It seems severe, but you are teaching the class that you are the only one in charge and your rules are the rules they will follow. One year, we stayed in boot camp for two weeks, but the rest of the year went smoothly because the children understood their responsibilities as members of the class and those responsibilities did not include being disruptive.
    I did run the idea through administration first so if they had objections I would know. With that class, that year, the P was in favor because those same students disrupted every single year.
     
  6. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Nov 11, 2010

    As a fellow fourth grade teacher, I'd also recommend putting some positive reinforcement into place. You want to begin by rewarding right away for even the smallest step, at first, so the kids see the payoffs and buy in to it.

    Now, this doesn't mean you need to give an actual award each time; you could have a chart where the students need to earn a certain amount of checks each day to qualify for a prize at the end of the day or week.

    I'd come in to the classroom on Monday, post a laminated chart with all the kids' names; as soon as I'd see one doing even the littlest thing properly, I'd announce it a loud voice that so and so is doing a good job doing ____ and so has earned a check. Once the kids start paying attention I'd explain what they need to do to earn, how many they need to earn, when they will receive any sort of reward, etc. Every so often, as we'd begin a lesson/activity/transition, I'd say something like "I'm looking to see who is showing me that they are earning a check" and make sure to find at least a couple of kids who qualify.

    Yes, the students do need to know there are consequences, but if they are a bit chaotic already, you need to provide them with an incentive to actively be good (and thereby be on your side, so even if one or two choose to still be the class clown, the others will not join in because they want that positive reinforcement).
     
  7. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Nov 11, 2010

    Welcome to the part of teaching our college professors never really prepare us for,that and the ridiculous amount of paper work.Recheck your class rules and see if they need to be modified.
    Go over them with the class again and role play to be sure they know what is expected of them.
    I try to set up a posting for the differences of class learners and class cheaters,cheats the class out of learning and we discuss the type of behavior that fits each category. We try to catch the children who were class learners during the day and discuss why. Try to set up rewards for those who follow the rules.
    Don't be afraid to bother the parents of the children who misbehave,even if it means calling them in front of their classmates,since they are the ones being cheated out of their education.
    Don't get down on yourself. It took me three years before I felt I was somewhat in control of my class and there are still days I go home shaking my head. Hang in there,it does get better,although it is never easy.
     
  8. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    To StarGirl,
    I do a positive reinforcement. The theme of my classroom is The Little Mermaid, so I have made mermaid dollars. All they are, are a printed Ariel dollar that Disney made on plan purple computer paper and laminated. And though that was effective, their consequence is for it to be taken away.
    I started wanting them to keep up with their own mermaid dollars. But I think I will start keeping a chart and then recording it...it will prevent the other problems I have been having with taking and losing them.
     
  9. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    Thank you, I will try that Monday.
    How long should I keep the "boot camp" in the classroom?
     
  10. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    I go over the classroom rules and consequences regularly to guarantee that the students are aware.
    Yes, I will start explaining to students of how it hurts the classroom as a whole some more...thank you.
    Thanks for the supporting words. Sometimes I feel so awful of a teacher because I am surrounded with great veteran teachers.
     
  11. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    I have definitely been where you are. Here is my reflection of the early years of my teaching. This may or may not apply to your situation, but its food for thought.

    I tried so many different strategies and reward/consequence systems. I felt like I had tried everything. The one thing I hadn't tried was consistency. Once I stuck to one system and really followed through with the rewards and consequences without hesitation (I did not like to give consequences until it was really 3 infractions too late) things got much better. Really stick to your guns on what you expect (the boot camp is a great way) and follow through without hesitation. My biggest hurdle was calling parents. I REALLY disliked calling the parents, especially because I felt my skills in teaching were also to blame for some of the problems. "Seasoned teachers didn't have these problems so I must be partially to blame for the kids' behavior." Well, that is what I thought and what made me hesitate to give such a strong consequence, but in reality the kid deserved a phone call home and it made the situation much better once I started calling because I was not giving empty threats. Another issue: I was horribly disorganized. I prepared my lessons, but would have to hunt for materials under a pile on my desk so downtime created behavior problems. I had to work on that to improve that area too and, when I did, behavior disruptions improved. There is nothing worse than Johnny misbehaving and egging others on while the class is waiting to start a lesson and I can't find the material.

    I hope that helped!
     
  12. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2010

    Your whole quote just spoke to me. I have all those feelings. I don't call parents as often as I should because I blame myself because when I isolate those students and let them in another classroom, they are great for the other teacher, so I feel just like it is me to blame. Oh my gosh, it was a relief just reading your post.
    Reflecting on how i was changing, I have been unconsist.
    My question is should I continue the plan I have? Are should I try the others and just see the difference?
     

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