Bad Experiences + Questions on Behavior Management

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Kaychelle, Jun 26, 2022.

  1. Kaychelle

    Kaychelle New Member

    Jun 26, 2022
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    Jun 26, 2022

    Hello everyone! For a bit of background: I have a complicated history with teaching. I am passionate about helping kids learn and grow, but I have struggled with classroom management in general. I've also had some really bad experiences that have impacted me both personally and professionally.

    My first teaching job was for first grade in an inner-city school. I struggled with classroom management, but my principal was mostly understanding and supportive. It was an up-and-down year, but she recognized that most beginning teachers struggled with significant behavior challenges. She retired at the end of my first year.

    My second year, there was a new principal and a new vice principal. The school culture changed drastically. Admin had a "targeted list" (it was an open secret) of teachers that they would come down on and try to "break." (They literally talked about it in the office, about "We've been trying to get rid of so-and-so for months now...) I was on their "list." I was the teacher on the first grade team who was privately told I was "not allowed" to follow school discipline protocol, write behavior referrals, get support, etc. My hands were tied. I was told, "You are too young and inexperienced to know what should constitute a paper trail. Therefore, you're not allowed to write any."

    I had several students in my class again who demonstrated significant behavior problems, including a boy who had "meltdowns" almost daily starting on the first day of school when I was trying to introduce procedures/routines and rules. His meltdowns were to the point where he was not only screaming and crying, but running around the room, knocking over desks, ripping things off the walls, throwing things, hitting and kicking other children, etc. I was told to "keep him contained in my classroom" and "not to bother anyone." I was told I needed to improve my classroom structure. Which I fully admit I did, so I spent all my spare time researching and implementing ways to add more structure, work on relationship-building, try out various behavior interventions, etc. When I shared my documentation with admin of strategies I was trying to address the behavior challenges, they shredded it and told me, "Hm, looks like you're not doing enough. You need to do better with classroom management."

    I tried consistently to grow my skills, but with no support there was not much effect. I was in my classroom from 6:00 AM until 7:30 PM Monday-Friday, except when there were professional development trainings to attend through the school district -- trainings I signed up for myself. The other teachers on my grade level were kind and helpful, but they were not in a position to really do anything to help. I was implementing their advice. Everyone, including the special education teacher down the hall, said it was obvious the child with daily meltdowns had red flags for some kind of emotional behavioral disorder. Other children also showed trouble with impulse control and hyperactivity, and one kid came to me with an oppositional defiant disorder label already. There were so many students with needs, and I was only one teacher always alone in the classroom struggling to be in multiple places at once. And my hands were tied. Neither I nor my students were receiving any kind of support.

    Then admin started moving students around across the first grade team. Every couple of weeks, I would get a student transferred into my class from a colleague's room; I would receive a student with documentation of behavior problems, suspected learning disabilities, or who had a track record of home abuse -- and I would lose a student who had always demonstrated good behavior choices. I was told these students were coming to me so the "paper trail would end." Admin needed to "make numbers go down" because the school district had that goal. So admin actively turned my classroom into a "throw-away class" where they would compile all the students who needed extra help in some way (behavioral, academic, social-emotional, etc) and wipe their hands of those kids (and me).

    I was told one child was being transferred into my class because the previous teacher had called Child Protective Services multiple times -- because the child would show up with fresh injuries, have knives in his backpack, and show signs of consistent neglect (body odor, no food, sunken eyes, etc). My principal told me, "Calling CPS just makes more work for everyone. He's in your class now. Do not call CPS. This has to end." Ethically, I am a mandated reporter. And the child continued to show signs of abuse, so I did call CPS. I disobeyed my boss because it was the right thing to do, and admin came down harder on me than ever in response -- switching out more students, writing negative untrue things in my teacher evaluations, and upping their ante of public criticism. I was scared to check my email because I would get multiple emails a day along the lines of, "I walked by your class and noticed 2 students were not on-task. That is unacceptable and you need to do better." I was having really significant mental health problems because the effort, energy, and ways I was trying to handle the situation were all met with not only no support, but active criticism and intentional toxicity.

    Usually, the students who were transferred into my class were done so with no warning 10 minutes before a scheduled Child Study about them. So I was called down to the office for the Child Study meeting and publicly reprimanded for a) not showing up promptly (I had no idea about it), and b) not having documented evidence to share with the family and other members of the Child Study team. I did explain that I was only this particular child's teacher for the past ten minutes, and I would work on collaborating with the child's previous teacher to pick up where she left off, but considering the circumstances it was unreasonable to expect me to have documented interventions for this particular child. Admin did not like when I advocated for myself, and I felt it later (for instance, they took playground privilege away from my entire class for the rest of the year. So from January to June, my kids were not allowed on the playground for recess.)

    Several teachers left at the end of that year, because admin was running that school into the ground. Everyone was having bad experiences, and teachers who weren't on "the list" were terrified of being added to it. My team lead, who I really admired, shared that she saw what I was going through and didn't think it was fair at all, but she couldn't do more to support me because she had to consider her own job security. She had kids. She needed the job.

    My 3rd year, we had a new principal. I stayed because I thought things might change with new leadership. They did not. Admin put me on a teacher performance improvement plan because of my poor classroom management. I didn't think that was entirely fair considering the circumstances, but I accepted it and took it as an opportunity to keep growing my skills.

    There was a child coming into first grade that year who had a long history already of behavior problems. He was placed in my team lead's classroom, because she was the best of us at classroom management. In the morning of the first day of school, he threw a large, heavy rock at her face when she was going over playground procedures. Luckily, she wasn't hurt too badly. The child was promptly moved to my classroom. So new principal, but same-old same-old. Then when I had difficulties (remember, my hands were still tied as well. I didn't have the same options as the other teachers), admin's response was that I just needed to do better with my classroom management. I also had 19 boys and 4 girls, and about 5 of those boys already had an ADHD diagnosis (whereas most of the other boys fed off of the hyperactive, impulsive behaviors). Again, I tried showing all the strategies I was using, but they were brushed aside.

    Because I was on the performance improvement plan, I had extra "homework" to be checked off so show that I was working to improve myself. I did all my readings, recorded myself teaching and wrote reflections, did everything they asked me to do -- but admin continuously canceled meetings with me to go over those assignments and provide feedback, so it looked like I wasn't doing my part. They weren't checking or signing off on the extra things I was doing. They told me in passing, "Hm, well, if you don't show you're an effective teacher by the end of the year, you'll be fired. Just keep that in mind..."

    So a month into my 3rd year, I had a mental breakdown. They succeeded in breaking me. I couldn't keep going on in that manner -- being put under a microscope and having every little thing criticized, having students with challenges moved into my class to stop the paper trail, trying to be everywhere at once to help each of these kids... I fully admitted I was struggling with classroom management and was willing to do what I could to improve -- I'm not saying that none of this was my fault, because classroom management was a weakness of mine from the beginning. But I was trying my best. I took steps to research management strategies and try to address the issues I was facing. I don't know how any one person could have effectively handled all the challenges in that room alone. There were too many needs to be met for one person to handle, especially with no support.

    Even with this lengthy explanation, I only scratched the surface of the ways admin "broke" teachers into quitting. The year I left, 4 other teachers also left in the middle of the year. Since then, the school turnover has been tremendous. The school cannot keep teachers OR admin. (I check every year, and I've been in contact with people who do work at that school.) Admin lasts two years at the most before leaving. Teacher turnover is even worse, especially for new teachers.

    So it's been several years. I officially left "for personal health reasons." I went back to school to become an occupational therapy assistant. (Turns out that wasn't the best move either. OT assistants who want to work in pediatrics do not actually make enough money to support themselves. Live and learn...) Even then, I missed teaching. I love inspiring a love of reading, helping kids grow their skills, building relationships with students and families...

    So after many years, I tried teaching at a private school. I thought the smaller class sizes and (hopefully) more supportive administration would make for a better teaching experience. It was a good experience in some ways, but horrible in others. I was hired for a Junior Kindergarten class. It was a small class size, but the kids who were in my class were put there BECAUSE there was some "reason" they were not yet ready for Kindergarten. It felt like a class of 25. There again were a lot of behavioral challenges -- including the impulsive and hyperactive behaviors that interfered with not only listening and following directions, but safety. I was really embarrassed and self-conscious throughout the year (based on my previous experience at the inner city school), but my new admin took care to let me know they thought I was "doing a great job." I went to them with the strategies I was trying to manage the behaviors, and they were impressed with my documentation and classroom interventions. They also did not offer any additional support though, mostly because they did not have the staff or resources. I was alone with my class of kids with challenges again.

    I felt like an unofficial special education teacher. Half my kids showed signs of ADHD (one had a diagnosis by the end of the year), there was a child with significant defiance (and signs of anxiety, like complete meltdowns whenever he encountered letters/sounds because literacy was a struggle for him, consistent blood and gore in his artwork, social-emotional problems with peers, etc.), and a girl with undiagnosed "visual dyslexia" (according to the mother -- the girl definitely had something going on, but I don't have the background or qualifications to comment further). My kids had sensory problems that impacted their daily functioning. One kid who showed red flags for ADHD also could not feel the urge to use the bathroom, so he ended up having regular bathroom accidents. Again, it felt like there were too many needs for one teacher in the room to handle everything effectively. For instance, I had to "stop instruction" so many times to help the child with bathroom problems get cleaned up and change clothes. (No aide, no school nurse, no one to help.) Meanwhile, another boy with impulse/hyperactivity problems might be jumping off the desk. There were so many developmental delays, which might in part be related to these kids' formative early childhood experience being impacted during the pandemic.

    So I did the best I could. I reflected as always, tried new things, documented, and kept admin and families in the loop. I had positive relationships with admin, students, and families. Furthermore, academically, 100% of my class tested "above average" ready for Kindergarten on the Kindergarten Readiness Test the private school used. So academically, I did teach my kids. They showed measurable progress. Their behaviors did improve little by little, but were not necessarily consistent. The end of the year did look much better than the beginning of the year, even with some of those challenges continuing. Admin was happy with me. My kids showed progress. In that way, it was a successful year.

    I also struggled to teach that year due to lack of curriculum materials. When I was hired, I was told there would be a Junior Kindergarten curriculum. The private school did have a person whose entire job was curriculum. 3 days before the school year started, I was told there was no curriculum and that I had to do everything myself. But they believed in me! Etc etc. (The person in charge of curriculum did not respond to emails, continuously canceled meetings, and did not follow through on ideas to help even when I could pin her down. She ended up resigning before the end of the year, so I'm sure she had something going on in her life that was taking priority.) I seriously thought about quitting several times throughout the year, but I ultimately thought of my kids and just couldn't do it. So every day, I spent all day alone with my challenging kids from 7:45 until 3:00 in the classroom (I did not have a planning period or any kind of lunch break or bathroom break in my schedule). Then I would go home, research and develop a loose curriculum, and then spend my own money to buy and create instructional materials to keep my kiddos "educationally entertained" every day. I bought a lot off TeachersPayTeachers and other educational resource websites. I bought my own manipulatives, learning games, center resources... The private school gave me a classroom, the kids, and some blocks. I did all the rest. That took a toll on me too, especially financially. Again, I questioned whether teaching was a good fit for me. I always come back to, "But seeing the kids light up when they learn something..."

    The private school was mainly focused on "the business aspect." They were sympathetic to my plight, but they couldn't afford to buy me instructional materials, an aide, professional development training, etc. They assured me they would have liked to, but it those just weren't options on the table. It was about marketing. They could relay to potential "customers" (families), "Hey, we offer this fantastic new Junior Kindergarten program! Look at how this rounds out our school! You should really consider enrolling your child here!" But nobody seemed to really care about "the people aspect" -- like what would really make this "great JK program" more effective and better-suited to the children's needs. It was also frustrating because I had several talks with admin about my observations, and how some of my kids might benefit from being tested through the public schools (either to confirm or rule out a possible underlying condition). Like, my girl with undiagnosed visual dyslexia showed signs of a potential learning disability. But admin wouldn't support me, even though it would have been the moral thing to do, because they didn't want to risk losing that child (more like risk losing her tuition money if it turned out she needed services they couldn't provide). So, again, it was back to being about numbers. I couldn't move forward in that process with admin's support, per school protocol, so it was extremely frustrating.

    I was also paid very, very little for the JK job. And most of my paycheck went right back into funding that program anyway. I basically had a job on paper. And it was a highly stressful job anyway. As with the vast majority of teaching jobs...

    I did communicate that I was looking elsewhere due to financial reasons, and in this way admin was supportive. They understood my position. I was just offered a second grade teaching job in another public school district (different from the one I worked for my first teaching job). My private school admin gave me a glowing reference. I accepted the new job, but I am wracked with anxiety. I know teachers are leaving the field in droves now. Teaching has ALWAYS been stressful, but it's getting worse than ever. I fear I am putting myself into another impossible situation. I am terrified of my new admin being unsupportive (or actively toxic) after my previous experiences. I keep thinking, "Maybe I just haven't found the right fit (school, grade level, district, admin team, etc.)," but I keep feeling called to teach. I also don't know what else to do to make enough money to support myself. My highest level in education is my degree in Elementary Education. I've been relying on my wonderful family to help support me, and I hate that feeling.

    I am also very, very self-conscious about my behavior management skills. I know now the importance of structured routines, classroom organization, building relationships, etc. I've had success in many of those other areas of classroom management. I've done a lot of research on the behavior management/discipline component of classroom management, and I feel torn on rules and consequences. For instance, when I first started out, the color clip chart was one of the most effective methods that actually helped me -- but I understand people's concern with how the clip chart might not be the best management tool (because the public display of a behavior level might cause some kids to melt down even more, etc.). I try to mostly focus on positives anyway, but I sometimes falter in using penalties for negative consequences (especially when a kid either has ADHD or shows signs of ADHD) because I understand that to some extent, the child is not capable of controlling his/her body or voice. How should "consistency" work when different kids respond to different consequences? And also when the same kid responds differently to the same consequence, even throughout the course of a day? I'm terrified of admin walking in and demanding to know why I haven't fixed certain children's behavior issues, even though in my experience it tends to be an ongoing process with some successes and some failures to figure out what works for a particular child.

    I've also tried a Class Store type of system where kids earned pennies for green choices, and they could spend those pennies to buy rewards that they brainstormed together at the beginning of the year (treasure box, shoes off for centers, 3 minutes of extra recess, etc). I've also used ClassDojo and actually had success with that system, but again there is criticism about the public displays of behavior. I also still need to learn more about my new school's philosophy. Like, are they a PBIS school? Do they have protocols for or against using certain types of behavior management systems? I'm going to call first thing Monday to ask those questions.

    Now I'm trying to write my Classroom Management Plan for my new 2nd grade position. I'm stuck about what discipline plan to introduce the first day of school. Everything I research has pros and cons, and because behavior management has been a struggle for me in the past, I question my ability to make sound judgments regarding it. Upon reflection, I've also tended to use several management systems at once, which made it overwhelming and hard to consistently enforce. (For instance, the clip chart with a whole range of rewards and penalties for each color level to incorporate student choice + table tallies + whole class Behavior Bingo + Mystery Student who might earn the class a special privilege + Superstar Students who wear mardis gras beads for part of the day and then choose who gets the next turn based on who has been meeting behavior expectations + spontaneous rewards for "catching the class doing good" + who knows what was overwhelming.) My experience at my first school deeply affected me, and the shame I feel lingers to this day even several years later. My admin at my first school really got in my head. I'm looking forward to another fresh start, but I am aware of the challenges.

    I guess at this point I just needed to vent and share my experiences. I am scared I'm not a good teacher, despite how hard I've tried (and despite evidence to the contrary, as my students have always LEARNED and made considerable progress even with the management problems). And families have always shared about what a positive impact I have made on their children personally. So I'm doing some things right.

    I'm going to end with asking for advice about a behavior discipline plan for 2nd grade, especially since I don't have experience with kids at this level. What rules are typical for this grade (like, is "Be respectful" still too vague?)? What behavior discipline system(s) have worked well/what overlapping systems were in place? (Again, I know about procedures, relationships, and the other components of classroom management. My concern is mostly the rules/consequences aspect of it all to manage behaviors.)

    Thank you for listening.
  3. CherryOak

    CherryOak Comrade

    Dec 25, 2016
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    Jun 27, 2022

    Wow. I'm intimidated at trying to develop a helpful response to all that, but I'll try.

    One caveat - I teach fifth, so I'm not in the physically squirrely years so much as the sassy years in regards to behaviors.

    I will share that my classroom management system doesn't really have consequences and rewards planned out. I let them know when they've messed up, but more importantly I let them know when they've done well. I compliment, praise, and thank galore alll day.

    I will respectfully nudge you to wonder if the focus on what the rules and consequences should be is part of the challenge ahead. The teacher I know at my school with the most formal and strict rules/consequences system actually has the worst management and is on a plan. It may be a crutch. Instead, a more valuable viewpoint may be how do I train them towards more self-governance (modeling, reflection and voice/choice perhaps) or how do I influence them to desire certain behaviors themselves?

    That said......the times I have subbed in second drove me bonkers and I just got bossy at times. :confused:
  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Jul 3, 2010
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    Jun 27, 2022

    I teach 3rd grade so I am close to 2nd. The best teacher I have ever met on classroom management was a 2nd grade teacher where I taught for many years. We talked a lot and were good friends. She was kind and I never heard her yell. Her class was very organized although she did do a lot of fun things in her classroom. The number one thing she had were routines. All of the students knew how things were done in second grade. This is something I learned from her well, and my classroom management quickly improved when I took her example. She nearly always kept her door open so I got to see her teach a lot. The beginning of the year she spent a lot of time on these routines. They would practice these in a fun way. If they didn't do them correctly, she didn't get mad. She'd praise the good she saw and then had them practice again.

    She always had a clear signal of how to get their attention whenever she needed it. It never changed.

    Another thing that helped was she constantly moving around the room. She was often near a problem student before they had a chance to misbehave. The only time I saw her sit is when students were reading to her.

    Did she ever struggle with a student? Yes, she was human. One student she had one year gave her lots of problems. She was able though to not let this one student bring the rest of the class down.

    A book that is the best that has all of the best practices for classroom management is Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. That book and this second grade teacher's example has been the largest help to me in classroom management. I have used the book for 20 years with some adaptations of course. A teacher does have to be their own unique self.

    Here is the link for the book on amazon. Used copies are much less than the new.

    Good luck to you.
    stargirl likes this.
  5. Kaychelle

    Kaychelle New Member

    Jun 26, 2022
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    Jun 27, 2022

    Thank you both for reading and responding! I appreciate your advice.

    I do tend to spend the majority of my time providing frequent, specific, positive feedback. When I conference with a student about a "red choice" then we problem-solve together about why the behavior is not the best choice, and what replacement behavior could be done instead. (For instance, jumping off a desk is not safe and you could get really hurt. If you need to move, you can sit on a wiggle seat/push on a stretch theraband/use a fidget toy/take a jumping jack break before getting back to work, etc.)

    The reason I'm focused on the discipline plan in particular is because it's required as part of a Classroom Management professional development course assignment. The assignment is to write your own Classroom Management Plan based on Wong and Wong's "THE Classroom Management Book," which focuses primarily on procedures and routines but also mentions that a "discipline plan" be in place as another piece of the puzzle. The discipline plan is mentioned to specifically be a plan of rewards and penalties used based on how students respond to the rules. This is, as I understand it, a separate but related component to rehearsing routines, building positive relationships, using actively engaging lessons, etc.

    I completely agree that inspiring students to desire to make appropriate choices for personally-meaningful reasons is ideal. I've had some success in this area, but it was a long process with me, the student, and the family checking in daily to reinforce the student's gradual change in mindset. That was mostly relationship-building and focusing on the positives as much as possible.

    Thank you for sharing! I have felt limited when trying to consistently enforce a strict system of tiered consequences, and I experienced a lot of self-doubt. However, one year I did start off without any rigid discipline plan. I've got the positive reinforcement/specific praise/gratitude down, so that's something. I also gave myself permission to respond to student's poor behavior choices as I saw fit depending on the child and situation (like a logical consequence in the moment, redirecting, conference + reflection sheet, temporary loss of class privilege, and so on). It wasn't a system like, "If you clip down to orange, you get 5 minutes taken off recess" which was a pretty standard approach at that school. Having a pre-determined one-size-fits-all negative consequence as part of a leveled discipline plan was said to help provide consistency and structure. It was hard to manage for me, but I struggled without it also.

    Without the Clip Chart, sometimes I struggled to think of a logical consequence in the moment. (Especially when I felt pulled in so many different directions at once.) And my students and parents were a bit uncomfortable, because they were so used to some kind of color system for behavior management. I would be calling to share a specific, in-depth positive observation about a student (to build those home-school connections), and parents would respond, "Yes, that's great, but I'd like to know every day if my kid was on Green or Above." They were conditioned, which is a whole other set of issues.

    I will need to research voice/choice! I've not heard that term before.

    I'm actually looking forward to some aspects of second grade. I'm hoping some of them might show a bit more maturity and/or self-control than the younger ones I've worked with in the past, and some might even be able to read a bit more (which will help with making posters for step-by-step routines). However, with students behind due to the pandemic, I'm not counting on that. Would be nice though!

    I definitely believe in establishing and reinforcing routines! When I did that at the beginning of my third year, admin popped in and wrote me up for "loss of instructional time." Even though I could defend my reasoning for having students redo the procedure, and I keep coming across that advice in all classroom management resources, my admin did not agree.

    My attention signal has been:
    Teacher: Attention! (hands in air)
    Students: Stop! Look! Listen! (actively do each step, hands in air)

    I use the Whole Brain Teaching method of the Class/Yes attention-getting signal method in that: the words and hand movements will always be the same, but the tone or WAY I say "Attention" might vary to keep things fresh and motivating. For instance, I might just say the word, I might sing it, I might break the word into clear syllables, I might say it in a funny voice, etc. I think making the call-and-response as concrete as possible was beneficial for my young learners. They are literally reminding themselves what to do step-by-step with their voices and bodies every time I call for their attention. We practice and reinforce what this process looks/sounds/feels like constantly.

    I do need to move around the classroom more, for sure! I've tried to stay by one or two students who really benefit from that one-on-one attention/proximity control, but that does make it harder to manage the rest of the group.

    I ordered the Tools for Teaching book. I'm excited to read it and start implementing some of its practices!

    Again, thank you!!!! It feels amazing to just share my story, feel heard/seen, and get some practical advice from kind teachers willing to share their tips.
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

    Dec 24, 2007
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    Jun 29, 2022

    Management by walking around will prevent most discipline problems. It’s a proactive technique. First thing to consider is furniture. The arrangement should promote the teacher’s movement. Idea is to reach each student in the fewest steps. A reason many teachers don’t use proximity is because it's too cumbersome to zig-zag across the room or use the circumpolar route. To save time and effort, nagging from afar, is ofter the choice. Check your arrangement. Stand at a desk (or table) like you are helping a student one-on-one. Now imagine a disruption on the far side of the room. Next, count the number of steps to move there. If it’s more than a few steps try different set-ups to reduce the distance. Check aisles. They should be wide enough for you to move without tripping over feet. Jones’ research showed some teachers won’t move in aisles where students are slumped with feet sticking out from their desks causing a block. Of course, students know this. That’s why they do it. Sit in a desk (or chair) stick your feet out. Add 12 inches. That’s the width aisles should be. Another obstacle is the teacher’s desk. Get rid of it or move it to the back or side; never in the front. Desk in front adds another 6-8 feet from first row when writing on the board.

    Moving or what Jones refers to as “working the crowd” is a skill. Like any skill, if done incorrectly, it can fail. Done correctly, students or anyone else should be unaware whether you are helping a student or doing discipline. At his seminar Jones does a demonstration. He chooses four volunteers from the group of teachers. They role-play students working on an assignment. Jones moves among them, stopping, bending over and talking quietly. It looks like a typical teacher during guided practice monitoring and helping students. After about three minutes he stops and asks the group, “Raise your hand if you can tell me who is in trouble?” No one raises their hand. Then he asks the four volunteers (sitting next to each other) if they can tell who is in trouble? One volunteer raises her hand. The other three are shocked they didn’t know. Jones to all, “Why can’t anyone tell me who is in trouble except for the target student?” Before anyone can answer, Jones, “Because I don’t want you to know. It’s none of your business!” Long winded point is working the crowd done correctly is excellent camouflage for discipline. It protects the student from public embarrassment, and thus, builds relationship with students knowing in this class they don’t have to worry about looking stupid or being called out for their mistakes.
    readingrules12 likes this.
  7. stargirl

    stargirl Comrade

    Jan 7, 2008
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    Jul 4, 2022

    When I taught second grade, students responded very well to positive reinforcement. People may call it bribes, I don't care, it worked! Much better than things like the traffic light, clip chart type/moving names down/giving consequences, which I found to be too negative. Basically, keep it as simple and as positive as possible.

    We had a big chart with everybody's names on it. When someone was doing a nice job, they got a check next to their name. (Or when I wanted to motivate the kids, I'd say, "I'm looking for someone sitting nicely and remembering to raise their hands so I can give out some more checks" and that worked pretty well, too.) They needed to earn something like 3 checks a day to get a prize (that was for classes that needed more immediate gratification) or else if they could handle waiting till the end of the week, if they got 3 checks for the day, they got a sticker next to their name. At the end of the week, everyone with at least 4 stickers (I gave a bit of leeway, so if someone was having a bad day, they could start over the next day) got a prize. Nothing fancy, dollar store prizes, even candy (back when we were allowed), but it was very motivating. It was very rare that someone didn't get a prize, btw.
    As far as rules and routines, a poster above laid it out very well. Make sure you have routines and structure, that the kids know how to do things, spend time practicing at the beginning of the year. For example, how do kids get new supplies when they need them? Turn in papers? Ask you for help when you are working with others? Line up? etc. Also, keep things organized in your classroom. Can't emphasize that enough.
    When you have a calm, organized classroom, that vibe filters down to the kids. The kids want a calm, structured room, they like knowing routines and expectations.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2022

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