Classroom Management: HELP NEEDED.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by remoes, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. remoes

    remoes New Member

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Hello all,


    I'm new to the forums and I am desperately seeking help with respect to classroom management. I work as a paraprofessional at a K-8 charter school in Cleveland, OH. The Friday before kids came back, the principal pulled me into her office, explained that the language arts teacher had quit, and that I was to be his replacement. I do have a sub license, which I attained in order to work as a tutor, but I have no formal classroom experience. The kids I teach are 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th. Today we are in the third week of instruction.

    Here's where it gets interesting. My kids are incredibly ill-behaved, disrespectful, rude... the list goes on. Here are some of the things that I have to deal with on a daily basis:

    1) Blatant, out and out defiance. Refusal to listen to commands by the teacher.
    2) Fights, physical and verbal.
    3) Getting out of the seats and floating around the room.
    4) Rude, disrespectful behavior, including insults directed at myself or other students.
    5) Accessing inappropriate and unrelated websites when assigned to do work on the computer.
    6) Volume. Students refuse to stop speaking while I am speaking. Volume escalates to the point where yelling at 75% my capacity just so I have a forum with which to communicate commands to the classroom has no effect on students, as they are talking so loudly that they cannot hear me.
    7) Refusal to sit at the desk and face forward.
    8) Refusal to participate in classroom activities, including quizzes, direct instruction, quizzes, and formal testing.
    9) Refusal to relocate to another desk for disrupting classroom activities.
    10) Students leaving the room without permission.
    11) Refusal to adhere to school uniform policy. Refusal to take off hoodies/silly bands/stop making tattoos on themselves when instructed to do so.
    12) Bringing food/gum into the classroom, refusal to put/throw it away when instructed.


    In a nutshell, the kids have learned that they can get away with murder. We have no formal school-wide discipline policy. Specifically, there is absolutely no consistency with respect to what behaviors we punish. It seems as if we only punish those students that we feel will not cut and run, leaving us with one less student in the seats, which makes our jobs more likely to be cut. In fact, we don't have the ability to give detentions, suspensions, or any type of formal discipline outside of the classroom. I can't even give a lunch detention if I want to. Everyone at our school seems to have accepted this lazy mentality that basically dictates "you can't control it, just babysit and take your paycheck", which I absolutely refuse to do. Perhaps I am naive.

    Which brings me to why I am here. I need help controlling these kids. I have tried positive redirection, I have tried being firm and strict (I've been furious at times, particularly when there is a fight/argument and my attempts at intervention result in no behavioral change), I have tried instituting punishments (ie, having to write the story we are studying word for word). Nothing works. The kids have zero interest in learning or doing work, and there simply are no ramifications for not completing it.

    What are some ideas that I can attempt to implement to keep these kids in line! PLEASE HELP!
     
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  3. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Wow, no lunch detention or recess detention even? That would have been the direction I would have gone in.. Do they have parents? I mean, of course they do, but are they involved parents that would take any action if you called?
     
  4. remoes

    remoes New Member

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Most phone numbers have been disconnected. The few parents I have talked to state that they will "talk it over" with the kids, but this brings about no change.

    Honestly, we've had kinder gardeners have accidents and have to sit in it all day because we have 0 ability to contact parents.

    As far as detentions are concerned, we attempted them last year, but usually kids would not show up, or their parents wouldn't allow them to stay because it was "inconvenient" for them. This is not the case for all parents, but usually those kids who misbehave are those kids who have no parental backup.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 24, 2010

    I have absolutely no background with this kind of background; my administration runs an incredibly tight ship. So take this for what it's worth:

    Can you start by choosing whatever part of the curriculum you thnk is most likely to hook the kids, and begin with that? Try to find activities that are so fascinating that the good kids automaticallly buy into it, and that enable you to pull in the borderline kids? (I'm math, not language arts, so I have no idea exactly what that activity might be.) The idea is that enthusiasm for you and for your class might slowly spread, and that you might get control simply through the force of your lessons.

    It would take an awful lot of creativity, and lots of patience. But, even if you don't reach all of them, I bet the good kids in the room and their parents would really appreciate it.
     
  6. who me

    who me Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Observe what is working and what is not working for other teachers. Look for someone on the staff that appears to has a good approach with students and a strong handle on classroom management skills. Ask that teacher to mentor you. Don't be afraid to seek help right away. Management issues are important to get under control for the good of all. Be aware of triggers that set a group off. Plan, plan and overplan. If the students find the class interesting and are kept actively engaged in their learning, they tend to show better behavior. Read articles or books on management tips and make your expectations clear to your students. Be consistent so your students understand you. Most important also try to remain calm but firm. If you stay in control, you set the tone for the room. Good luck.
     
  7. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2010

    In my experience, having worked in several situations like the one you are describing, interesting is good but control needs to happen first. This might be controversial and the opposite of what people see as good teaching, but what I have seen experienced teachers do in this kind of situation is basically lock the kids down until you can get them under control. Make packets. Make them work on the packets silently from the time they come in until the time they leave. Many times this is what kids in this kind of environment are used to anyway and if you don't do that then they will claim you "don't know how to teach" - even though you are attempting some really cool and interesting stuff. It will feel like you're not teaching, but ask yourself whether you're doing that right now anyway. Make yourself available to assist the students with the work. Check the work at the end of every period (you don't have to grade all of them, just check for completion.) You could have some kind of reward for kids who on Friday have all of the week's work done.

    Once you have this working, have the class under control, have a chance to get to know the kids without screaming at them, then you can start trying other stuff. Maybe just the last 15 minutes of the period to start. Keep it over their head that if they can't be trusted to do other stuff without misbehaving, they will go back to packets. Again, I am aware that this is the opposite of the positive-reinforcement discipline model that is popular but if you have no support from admins and no support from parents you have to make your class work for you regardless of what everyone else is doing. I have seen it work in several classrooms and by the end of the year the class is running about as smoothly as it can. I think it works because it is very clear what the expectations are (finish these questions) and there is always something that everyone is supposed to be doing. It also gives the kids who are trying to learn a chance to do so and you get to focus on the kids who are struggling, without feeling like you're only teaching 1/4 of the class. It is also NOT babysitting - that would be if you did the crossword puzzle and let them do whatever they want.

    If you have some kids who just can't handle your classroom sometimes, see if you can find another teacher you can send them to to cool off. Do you have a partner teacher or grade team, or a literacy coach or something?
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Dovian, I worked with a teacher once who declared "Martial Law" in class, in a manner very similar to what you describe.

    I'm not sure it would work for me, but it did work for him. After a relatively short time, he was able to loosen up a bit.
     
  9. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2010

    It definitely sounds like you need to do something drastic (inflicting packets?) to get their attention. Although they could just refuse to do the packets too, and I think you need a backup plan in that case. You might consider some quick reward at the end of the week to keep them going, and that you can take away if a student chooses to not do the work.
     

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