Behavior Problems: Week 4

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by anthrogirl, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I just started my 4th week as a 7th grade social studies teacher and the behavior in the classroom is a disaster. I'm starting to feel a little panicky about it and I'm desperately seeking advice. I feel like I'm a failure for not being able to handle the kids like my vet teacher coparts. This relates mainly to 2 of my classes, though there is some minor problems in my others.

    Some common problems:

    1. Getting out their seats (we're in a very tight room so this causes more problems)

    2. Calling out (echoes in the room which makes sound even worse)

    3. Talking at inappropriate times (bell work, while I'm talking, any time they feel like)

    4. Inappropriate behavior (creating a scene for attention, laughing/screaming to make a scene, getting out of their seats and sitting on the floor, bullying other kids at lockers, taking forever to go to their lockers or order lunch, touching other students) <---- This behavior is targeted to a few students but it's spreading as other students are copying them.

    I've tried an incentive program. Pulling kids aside to talk to them. Signal and gestures. Quietly tapping their desks to get them on task. Changing seats. Reorganizing the lessons.

    I've asked for help from some of the vets and I was told those kids are just like that and they never have any problems which isn't very helpful. Some people have told me to use positive reinforcement as some of these kids don't take to certain kids of consequences, but that isn't working either. What is compounding the problem is that their lockers are on another floor so I can't watch what they are up to or monitor their behavior. I think it sets the tone for the entire day.

    I'm at a loss and don't know what to do. I keep trying to tell myself I'm still learning and that's okay, but we're having massive loss in instructional time. Part of the problem with one of the classes is that I haven't been able to build rapport somehow, but the extreme behavior is with a class I thought I did have rapport with (my homeroom). I need to start to fix it now or else we're all going to have a miserable year and the students won't get the education they deserve.

    Suggestions?
     
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  3. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I suggest to review your school's discipline procedures. Are you allowed to assign detentions? Are you allowed to run your own detentions? Have you thought about assigning standards? For every disturbance in class, assign some kind of consequence. I used to work at a school that didn't really have discipline procedures in place, and so I had to come up with a plan myself. Most of the time I'd assign standards, but my standards weren't just one sentence, I'd have them copy down a one-page essay about proper classroom behavior. Depending on the "offense" I'd have them copy the essay down multiple times within one class period. Yes, I realize they are missing content from the class, but normally, these were the students who came to class not to work, but to be a disruption. If they refused to do the essay, that was defiance which meant a referral straight to the office and I'd automatically request a parent conference.

    Since it's the fourth week, I suggest you pin point 2 or 3 "fire starters" in the classroom (repeat offenders) and call home about your concerns. Also, request parent conferences. Once word gets around about calling parents and that you're requesting conferences, that might scare a few students straight.

    I have a class that has some of these same issues. What I've been doing to get them to settle down, is I remind them about my "goal". I'm not big into homework. I don't assign it on a daily basis, and if I do assign homework, it usually ends up to be maximum 15 minutes worth at home because there theoretically should be enough time to get them started in class. Anyway, my "goal" is to give them as little homework as possible, and I let the students know this. But I've told them that for every time there is a distraction from the lesson in class such as disruptions, out of seat behaviors, calling out at inappropriate times, etc. that means that I have to then intervene/reprimand/correct behavior which in turn takes THEIR time away from doing what they need to do. The more they follow directions the more time they have in class to work on their assignments which then gives them more time to do the things they like to do at home. So far, they're buying into this rationale and they see it work.
     
  4. dkjackson

    dkjackson Companion

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    Sep 21, 2010

    I don't have any suggestions for you, unfortunately. However, aside from the locker issues, I'm having the same problems with my 8th grade ELA classes. I, too, feel like a failure and like I have no one to turn to at the school because everyone else has their own issues they're dealing with. So I'm very curious to see the types of responses you're getting.
     
  5. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2010

    Our school went through massive changes this year with staff turnover, new admin, and hiring new teachers for new positions. In the process, they threw out the old discipline policy and haven't replaced it with a new one. There is no set time on when a new one will be in place. So I'm a new teacher with nothing to fall back on. I'm going to have to make it myself and then adjust whenever the new policy comes into play. That will stink for consistency, but I have to do something now.

    I also don't assign massive homework, but maybe I'll give this a try.
     
  6. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2010

    If there is no discipline policy, I would double check with your admin about holding after school or lunch detention, and go that route.

    I'd give a 3 strikes rule. Disruption #1, warning, disruption #2, meet after class, disruption #3, detention (make them write sentence or something in detention). I would say that bullying is an immediate detention offense. If students do not show up for detention, then it can be a referral (for disruption, and then defiance).
     
  7. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2010

    Today I had the kids come up with their own rules (I had them pass in thoughts with their name or anonymously). So I am going with 2 warnings and then a lunch detention. We'll see how that goes. For those who can't seem to participate in group work or the assignment, I'll have alternative assignments ready.

    Hopefully that will stop the chaos a little. I'm stressed and the kids are super stressed and it's get physical now.

    The problem is we'll have this moment where I think we're getting somewhere and it ends up being just show. 20 minutes later it's worse than before. By the end of the day today, I had kids running in the halls but I wasn't there because I couldn't leave the classroom. And there isn't enough room for us to all go at once.

    I came home crying today. I don't know what to do. I have no idea how to reign them in so we can respect each other. Obviously, there is no trust or respect.
     
  8. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Sep 22, 2010

    First off, big hugs!!

    The one thing I want to address is your locker issue. My department has solved this problem by simply not allowing students to go to their lockers during our classes. You're unprepared? Well, then I guess I'll see you at detention when you can make up the work. Bring what you need to class, that's all there's to it. We're in a huge school so a pass to a locker could easily take 6-8 minutes as the locker could legitimately be a 3 minute walk away.

    And I'm not quite sure what you mean about kids running in the halls. They left the classroom without permission and were just running in the hallways? Although you said you couldn't all go at once, so that makes me think you wanted everyone to be in the hall running? Sorry, just trying to figure out what that comment meant.
     
  9. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2010

    Sorry I wasn't clear. Our grade is allowed to go to their lockers 3 times a day. Once in the morning. Once in between classes in the late morning and in the afternoon. I don't let anyone go to their lockers during class.

    Since the lockers are not near me, I can't supervise them at these times. I need to be in the classroom. I can sometimes get a teacher nearby to watch them, but by a certain time they have to go to their thing.

    A majority of the problems are centered on these unsupervised locker times and when they are passing in the hallways. Because they have no structure then, it's compounding things in the classroom. I'm not blameless. Classroom behavior is not my strongest suit. I have trouble handling with aggressive and defiant students.

    Like today I caught a student intentionally trying to trip classmates. I pulled him out (which I told is not the right thing to do but I felt I had no choice), and told him what I saw and gave him a lunch detention. I'm not sure how I could have handled it differently.

    I'm just really discouraged right now.
     
  10. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Sep 22, 2010

    Still trying to understand the locker issue -

    Students only go to their lockers three times a day? Why do you need to stay in your classroom if all your students are at their lockers? Don't the other teachers do hall duty? Are you responsible for your students when they go to their lockers? Do all the students in your building go to their lockers at the same time? It doesn't sound like you have a typical middle school set-up; bell rings, all students leave class, go to locker, head to next period, tardy bell rings, class begins.

    I am very confused by the locker issue.
     
  11. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Sep 22, 2010

    :( I'm sorry to hear about your day. I've had days like this as well. My old school site also discouraged taking kids out in the hallway too. Their reason was that they were being "deprived of the lesson"...I think it had to do with some kind of EdCode, but like you, there were times when there wasn't a choice - either we take the kid out to the hall and conduct a lesson more peacefully so 20 kids can learn or keep the kid in class and have that kid take away learning opportunities from 20 other students.
    Consult with the AP or P about what YOU can do. It'll look like a weakness if you solely want them to handle all your problems which isn't the case, YOU want to be proactive and involved and take care of the issues you have with discipline in the classroom and you're seeking their advice as to proper procedures and protocol.
    Another thing you need to take the time to do is to document, document, DOCUMENT. Every time you reprimand or give a consequence to a student whether its just a talk or moving seats or detention or referral, note it down in a notebook or journal. This will help during parent conferences and when maybe an Admin wants to know all the things YOU'VE done to handle the situation yourself.
    CALL HOME...even DURING class. If Tommy is being problematic, call his parent right away. Can't reach them at the first number? Call ALL contact numbers (even the emergency ones) to reach the parent. Leave a message with the aunt or who ever telling them you're trying to reach the parent of Tommy and that you're a teacher at the school. What will happen is that Tommy's mom will get embarrassed about 1.) not being able to be reached and 2.) Tommy is being a problem at school. Tommy's mom will then come down hard him because shes embarrassed and doesn't want everyone all up in her business, and Tommy will behave better at school.
    I used to be scared of parents. But I learned that I've got to use them as a tool to manage my classroom. Don't just call for "bad" behaviors. Call for good ones too. Was Victoria especially helpful today or maybe she gave really good insight in your discussion about the fall of Rome? Call home and tell mom or dad about it. You're building a team.
    If you do decide to call home for problem students, remember to phrase your sentences carefully. You're not having problems, you have "concerns" and your reasons need to be about the well being of THAT student.
    And of course, DOCUMENT ALL phone calls home (good or bad).
     
  12. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2010

    *I'm* confused by the locker issue, LOL.

    We have no current bell system. We used to have a tone that rang, but it's broken right now.

    As it is, students come to homeroom. I take attendance. I let kids who aren't ordering lunch go to their lockers while I send the rest down to order lunch. I stay in the homeroom area - I'm away from the other teachers; we're in a refit old building - for kids coming back to HR. I have ten minutes to do this, but the chaos of having students in three different places is causing problems. The other teachers are watching students where the lockers are for those 10 minutes. Once that is done, they are in their rooms with doors shut doing their HR activity with their classes. (We each have to do a morning greeting and activity.)

    I'm losing kids during this time. I've tried 3 different ways to coordinate this and it's not working. And I have to send kids down by a certain time to order lunch. Then, later, when they are supposed to go from one class to their lockers to mine, I'm losing kids. (Darting into bathrooms, staying extra time at their lockers, etc.)

    The end of the day is just pure chaos.
     
  13. jamoehope

    jamoehope Companion

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    Oct 4, 2010

    Oh, I'm going through the same sort of problems right now although my classroom situation is so much more minimal than yours. I want to comment because I think I can help by pointing out where I need help. Then you can decide where you need help so you can go to someone at the school to help you specifically in those areas.

    I started last Tuesday at a middle school in part-time resource. I've only worked two years before this in resource in an elementary school in small groups. (The kids were much easier.)

    Most of what I do is push into classrooms and help all the students while being there to help the resource students. But I also have a 15 minute homeroom at the beginning of the day and this is where I'm having similar problems to you.

    Even if I give work for the students to do, since it isn't graded or something I'll be able to follow up in for class, most of them don't care. So they talk and socialize and ignore me. The more confrontational of the students will talk back to me if I give directions.

    So the main things I'm learning right now are...
    1. When I have larger groups of students, I don't know how to run a "first day of school" situation effectively that teaches my rules, procedures, consequences, and I don't know how to maintain it.
    --I think I need to watch someone experienced do it, just like my students need me to model everything for them.
    2. Once I get the students to accept they need to work (or I find work that motivates them), I need to keep them busy or they will fill the time with the disruptive behavior.

    I wish you lots of luck! If I learn anything that dramatically helps me I will let you know!
     

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