Being *too* mean?

Discussion in 'Private School Teachers' started by lucybelle, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 10, 2012

    I come from teaching at a really rough school and am now teaching at a private school with pretty well behaved kids. I really lay down the law with them and am pretty "mean". I lecture kids heavily when they come unprepared, are late, or talking while I'm talking. But I'm also a lot of fun and we laugh and joke, I compliment them constantly and we do a lot of fun things in class. I was telling my boyfriend about my school day today and he goes "you can't yell at the kids like that. You're going to have problems with the parents" (I don't really yell, more like stern talking) How true is this? The thing is, I've seen the kids with other teachers and they're WILD! They talk constantly, disrespect the teacher, run around, do whatever they want. I refuse to have that in my classroom and these kids need to know I mean business with them. I don't have a problem talking with parents to defend my actions, but at the same time I'd also prefer to avoid the conversations to begin with.

    Should I ease up on the kids? Or stick to my ways?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 10, 2012

    I would expect the students to behave in my classroom as well. I don't lecture students though. They know the rules. If I need to say more than their name or give them a look, then there are further consequences. Usually these involve a period of time away from their peers to reflect on their behavior. I honestly don't need to do this too much, especially because I often am calling out the good behaviors and rewarding those.
     
  4. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Feb 10, 2012

    Stick to your ways.

    Most parents will appreciate that you are strict but also fun and supportive. I know I would. I would certainly want my child in your classroom rather than the out of control classrooms.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 10, 2012

    I think there's a difference between being demanding and being mean.

    As long as you're on the right side of that line, you're fine.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Feb 10, 2012

    Are you really "yelling" or are you phrasing "yelling" as just speaking sternly? I think once you start yelling you've lost all control. One of our "strict" middle school teacher is quite the yeller and as bad as it sounds even I think she just looks ridiculous once she gets in one of her "fits". She flipped out on some kids during a fire drill this week and she was literally stamping her foot and screaming at them and it just looked ridiculous. As far as "lecturing" I agree with a previous poster that if you find yourself just going on and on about it over and over, a consequence should be applied rather a lecture.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 11, 2012

    You also went from high school to elementary, right? You need to consider changing your mgt somewhat.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 11, 2012

    Just like others said, I agree that being mean and being demanding or strict are different things.
    I would stay strict, because if you are not, kids would eventually get out of control, and then you'd have to go back being strict anyways, but by then you've lost a lot of energy and time.
    It's best to have consequences and strictly enforce them. When they try to test or push you, it's when you you really need to be consistent (this is hard for me sometimes). Pretty soon they'll learn that you mean business, and then you can really have fun and joke with them, like you said.

    I don't know what grade level you teach, and I don't have a whole lot experience, but in my opinion middle school is probably the hardest (you gotta be strictest with them), high school can be easier due to the maturing of the students, and elementary seems easiest. When I subbed in elementary I had never seen the defiance and the issues I saw in middle school. So depending on the age, you might also want to adjust your style.
     
  9. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Feb 11, 2012

    There's nothing wrong with being strict and having high expectations with your kids. I'm very strict with my kids (have to be), but I also take the time to get to know them, make jokes, plan fun activities, etc. While I'm strict, I ALWAYS have kids who say how much they love being in my class and what a nice teacher I am. I also tell my kids that I never yell at them, so if it's too loud and I HAVE to yell, then we have a problem. Seems to fix the beginning of the year (or beginning of our afterschool program that we just started) issue of chattering (we have quite the chatters in our group).
     
  10. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 12, 2012

    Thanks for all the replies! It's definitely not "yelling". I don't put on a show. For example, the other day a kid came unprepared to class AGAIN after I told him the day before exactly what he needed to bring. Well I just told him how was I supposed to grade something if he had nothing to work with? I'd have to give him a zero.

    The thing with the school is it's supposed to be a "nice" school. Teachers aren't supposed to punish kids, we're supposed to reward. And this is why I think a lot of the classes are out of control! I don't necessarily punish, but I do let them know what's not acceptable.

    This is also something I'm having trouble with. I have grades 3-8, and the 5-8 are great. But the 3 and 4 I'm having a really hard time figuring out how to manage them. Because they're just being silly and talking and playing or whatever, so it doesn't work for me to say something I would say to my 7th graders. I'm thinking next week I'll sit in on them in another class to see how other teachers deal with them. I wanted to try the whispering "if you can hear me clap once" thing but they don't understand English well so I don't think it will work. The last time I've been in a 3rd grade classroom was when I was in 3rd grade. I need some strategies.
     
  11. CrayolaCrayon

    CrayolaCrayon Companion

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    Feb 12, 2012

    For third graders, you can use a clapping pattern.

    1, 2. 1, 2, 3. (Long, long. Short, short, short.)- And they do it back.

    I used this with fourth graders during my student teaching and it work remarkably well. I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely give this a try and emphasize that when they hear it, it means it's listening time.

    Positive reinforcement works well for lower elementary grades. "I like the way ____ has his textbook open and got right to work."

    When a student misbehaves, lectures tend to go in one ear and out the other. Keep it short. I find that the right "look" or just standing by a child can help them get a move on. If necessary, speak to them one on one to redirect their behavior.
     
  12. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Feb 12, 2012

    Or you can use a hand signal. Our school uses the Give Me Five from Harry Wong. You say Give Me Five and raise your hand. Then, the kids are supposed to stop what they are doing, close their mouths, eyes on you, and raise their hand, too. You wait until EVERYONE has their hand up and looking at you. I usually time this in my head and will say, "wow, that took us only 5 seconds." Or, "That took us 10 seconds today. Let's see if we can beat that next time."

    For lectures, I also try to keep it short. I may just ask, "what bad choice did you just make." We focus on bad choices versus good choices.

    We are also going to start having the kids fill out a behavior form where they write down what they did and how they can fix it. Also, this way we have documentation to show the parents.
     
  13. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Feb 12, 2012

    If my 3rd graders start talking when I have asked for their attention (giving instructions, etc.), I will just stand there and wait. They quickly notice that I am waiting and get each other to be quiet. A quick glance at my watch often helps, too!
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 12, 2012

    I know kids come unprepared - often - because they are just not responsible, and they need to learn to be.
    But what if a student comes in unprepared, because of his home / family situation?
    - mom and dad / mom and boyfriend had a fight, they had to stay somewhere else for the night.
    - mom / dad or boyfriend had a fight, and it was just too traumatizing for him to sit in his room, to actually worry about school.
    - he did not have the supplies needed, for reasons out of his control.
    I don't know the exact situation of being unprepared, but maybe it wasn't his fault.
     
  15. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 12, 2012

    Like I said before, I worked in a rough school where I started every class with "who needs a pencil and paper?" because they never had anything. But almost every single one of my kids from 5th-8th grade have their own laptops. Now I'm not saying that means that there couldn't be something wrong in home, but the likelihood is less, in my opinion. The kid that came unprepared brought his laptop and not his notebook. His notebook was in his locker, but he didn't bring it to class. But anyways...:)

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I like the "give me 5" and the clapping. I'll try those out tomorrow. This site has been so helpful, THANKS!!!:thumb:
     
  16. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Feb 12, 2012

    I don't mind if my students forget their notebook in their locker once in a while. It happens...they might have accidentally grabbed the wrong notebook. But if I notice a pattern, it becomes a problem.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 13, 2012

    I don't know... I'm just not mean.

    Even the kids who don't like math tend to enjoy my class. I'm pretty good with things like the bathroom and with recognizing that they have a life outside my class. We work-- full time-- in my class. But we laugh a lot and enjoy each other's company as we work.

    If a kid needs a pencil, I find one for him or he finds one himself or one of his classmates finds him one. If he gets to class without his notebook, either someone lends him paper or he runs to his locker.

    A kid knows he can say he had a rough night at home last night, and he'll get a short term bye for almost anything.
     
  18. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 13, 2012

    I know you guys are giving examples to me, and I really appreciate it.:) I don't mean to continue defending myself, but this certain kid hasn't come prepared for a single day. The day before I told the entire class the importance of being on time and coming prepared and what that entailed. And he STILL didn't bring anything.

    But anyways, I have the 4th graders today. We're going to talk about the scientific method, sort of. We're going to talk about observations and questions. Make observations about something. Do a vocab chart and then I've wrapped up different plastic toys in newspaper and by feeling them they have to "hypothesize" what's inside. I'm also going to introduce the clapping thing today. We'll see how it goes!!!
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Feb 13, 2012

    You need to find out the "WHY" behind the kid not being prepared.

    --Does he not have supplies?
    --Is he having a hard time with organization?
    --Is there something along the way that is distracting him?
    --Is he overwhelmed with how many things he needs to remember to bring? (Start with one thing and build up).

    Could you have an individual meeting with him and have the student come up with his own plan of how to improve the situation? Make a behavior contract with him. Have some sort of visual chart and perhaps an incentive. What about helping him build a checklist and then counting each item he did remember. Or just starting with remembering one item consistently and building.
     
  20. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Feb 13, 2012

    cutNglue- I love the idea of a checklist!!! Thanks!

    Also, the clapping thing went over very well. Not only do the kids get quiet but they love doing it! Success!

    I still have lots of learning to do with these little kids but, as we say down here, poco a poco.
     
  21. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 13, 2012

    My students respond well to clapping, the auditory really helps. Also, the checklist in the locker really helps students bring the right materials to class. I would suggest laminating it so that it doesn't get torn up throughout the year.
     
  22. sizzla_222

    sizzla_222 Companion

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    Apr 12, 2012

    I did this last year in student teaching also. It worked so well... and it is so simple! i plan on using it next year in 3rd grade. I will say that if anyone is talking after the 3 claps then they will loose a letter on their 'responsible' charts. I definiely plan to be stern at the start to set expectations.

    As far as the topic goes.... I would definitely stay stern. A teacher at my school is very stern but also has fun and makes up fun lessons etc.... I went into her class to teach a few lessons, the kids were amazing! The did what i asked them to do, when I asked them to do it... without talking lol.
     
  23. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 10, 2012

    lucybelle, I didn't read all the posts so I might repeat someone's ideas.

    1. I think it is good that you strictly enforce rules. Keep it up.

    2. I think lecturing the class or even a student is rarely helpful. This is where they might think a teacher is mean. The less words the better. Enforce the rule and then move on. This way they see that they are doing it to themselves. For example, let's say I forgot to return a library book on time. If they charged me $5 as is the policy, it is my fault. If the librarian charges me $5 and lectures me, my thoughts will be-wow what a mean librarian. If she says "that's okay-there is no fine.". I know that it is okay to be irresponsible and rules are not always enforced.

    3. While being strict with policies, try to be as positive as you can be with your words. Use few words when enforcing a rule, and many words when you praise.

    4. This one is the hardest for me--but try to always keep it positive when talking to the whole class. If 10 are bad than talk to that group of 10 either as a small group or if you have time (probably not) one on one. Students find it is mean to be reprimanded when they were not the one doing anything wrong.

    I doubt I told you much you don't already know. I just wanted to share that focusing on these 4 allow me to be a strict teacher (when most are not) and still have the students perceive me as a fair teacher. (You'll always get a couple who will see you as mean as you don't allow them to rule the class, but so be it.)

    Good luck!
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Aug 10, 2012

    I definitely think different styles for different environments. Kids from some backgrounds get used to, respond to, and respect different discipline styles. That isn't to say that you don't identify "best practices," or that you settle for mediocre just because a child isn't used to something, but there are different discipline styles that are equally good, set not equally appropriate depending on the environment.

    So, I'd say think about whether what you're doing is working and matched with the kids you're working with. Under no circumstances would I simply "stick to what I was doing" simply because I was already doing it. I'd also make sure you are asking the tough question of whether what you are doing is actually working, as opposed to whether you simply have the right to use discipline the way you are.
     
  25. pvcpa

    pvcpa Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2012

    I would rather see one of my teacher start out "mean" and tone it back than to start out as the "friend" and lose the classroom.

    We have a pretty strict school. Students are required to address all staff as "sir" or "ma'am", stand when their teacher enters the room, wear uniforms and adhere to a strict Code of Conduct. In addition to being the Headmaster I teach three classes a day and I was recently voted the "Strictest teacher on campus". Come to think of it maybe I am not the best to reply to this post. :)
     

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