Classroom Management Problems

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by NewKindy1, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2015

    I just started my first year of teaching kindergarten. I started Monday and it's just Wednesday evening. I keep telling myself that the first year is going to be hell, but this is just awful and overwhelming. The other teachers are helpful, but they bombard me with constant information it just turns into information overload.
    I thought I was prepared (boy was I wrong). I've finished the coursework for my alternate certification program, I read the book "First Day of School" and I thought that I would have time to plan everything out, but last week, I was in meetings all week ,and my classroom was in shambles. By the time I finally got my classroom done, it was time for the students to come, and I was totally unprepared.
    I teach minority kids from low-income homes and most of these kids have little to no structure at home. Classroom management is just so hard. I just feel so stressed and frazzled. Today I literally went into the bathroom and cried my eyes out. I just feel like a failure. I get so discouraged when I'm in the middle of a lesson and one of the students raises his/her hand to tell me "I want to go home" "when can we eat". I just feel like I can't do this and I feel that since the first week is almost over I can't be forceful about a discipline plan. I mean, my para has more control than I do! I just feel like a failure and that I can't do this.
    I can't teach because I'm constantly having to tell either one student or this other group to "sit down" "be quiet" "shut up" ugh! It's only been 3 days and I already feel like I want to throw in the towel. This actually makes me miss my retail job. Any/all advice is appreciated.
     
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  3. SandyCastles

    SandyCastles Companion

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    Aug 19, 2015

    It is their first week of kindergarten- many of these kids may or may not have gone to preschool, so this is their very first time being in a school environment. They are going through a HUGE adjustment right now, of one, coming off of summer, but two, being used to being in school. Mommy/ nanny/ big sis/ grandma/ whoever isn't giving them their undivided attention anymore, and they have to get used to this. Your job is to "train" your students to get used to this routine of being in school. You can do this- set out your schedule and think about the routines and movements you want your kids to have. You need to know this so you can effectively SHOW them to them. Have them practice them, again, and again. They will need to practice them. Point out when you see something that you really like- "Oh, I love how so and so is sitting criss cross" "Johnny lined up so nicely!". Think about things like which square they should walk on in the hallway, etc...

    Don't worry if you are not getting whole lessons in this week. You should be focusing on movement in the classroom and getting the students to work together. They should be exploring the manipulatives in the classroom, practicing cleaning up and learning where things are in the classroom. The teaching and learning will come.

    Keep things fun for you and them- kindergarten is such a fun age and you will love them so much. You have to get them into the right routine and frame of mind, but you have to get yourself there first.
     
  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    I would avoid saying "shut up" to a child. "Be quiet" is much nicer.

    As to the rest, I agree with the last post -- you have to teach them the procedures before you'll be able to teach them content. Make it fun, but organized fun.

    Praise the daylights out of anyone doing "the right thing."

    Good luck and hang in there.
     
  5. DressageLady

    DressageLady Comrade

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    Aug 19, 2015

    I just started my second year yesterday, and I remember vividly the horrible time those first couple of weeks of my first year was.

    Regarding the information overload, it helps when you focus on just one block of time when you ask for help. Instead of saying, "Oh my God, this is a nightmare! What should I do?", pinpoint one activity that is giving you fits: "Calendar time is out of control, how can I keep their focus?" That helped me kind of slow down and process the help that was being offered.

    Practice, practice, practice what your procedures are. This is how we stand up and push our chairs in. This is how we walk to line up. After you have practiced that stuff ten times, turn around and practice it again ten more times. Remember, in order for them to know what you want, you have to have a clear picture of what it looks like and then you have to give them a chance to practice that. Don't be afraid to have them turn around and go sit down if they lose their little minds lining up. Practice, practice, practice.

    Break each activity down into the smallest components possible and prep as much as you can for each of those components before hand. Think of the problem areas and ask yourself how you can make it better. Do they fall apart when you're handing out materials? Have it all laid out before hand to cut down on that transition. Does it seem that there are one or two children that start the off-task questioning or commenting, causing it to snowball with the others? Occupy them with a job before they get a chance to get going.

    With the unrelated questions and comments, I tell my firsties that I won't take questions or comments unless I ask for them. If someone raises their hand and asks when we're going home I tell them we aren't doing questions right now and I don't answer their question. I don't want to teach them that I'll answer even when I haven't invited questions.

    It does get better. Just go easy on yourself. This is really hard stuff we do. If teaching were easy, even politicians would do it.
    Sheilah
     
  6. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Aug 19, 2015

    I teach pre-k in a similar demographic school district. Today was the first day of school, and I can tell you that unless you teach Pre-K or K, no one understands just how hard it is those first few days (or weeks). This is my 4th year and it's probably the FIRST year that I haven't come home crying. One thing that I've learned that has helped is that I am strict and firm from day 1. I love to give praise and positive reinforcement, but I'm also quick to say "That is NOT a choice." and tell them what the expectation is. I also spend so much time talking about rules & expectations. We practiced lining up stuffed animals on the carpet before making our first line to walk to the cafeteria, we read stories about how to sit on the carpet and I have visuals that show how every part of their bodies should look, etc...

    Of course they want to know when they can go home and go eat :) Trust me, I know it's the worst feeling in the world, but a child who has never been in school before really isn't going to think "man I love learning this new literacy skill so I can read", it's just "pizza sounds good today"....at least for those first few days. As to all the distractions and your giving directions to kiddos (sit down, be quiet, etc..) as others have pointed out, "shut up" isn't appropriate to say in the classroom. Instead of having to say things all the time, can you put some visuals on a binder ring and just flip to the picture? For example, if someone starts talking, just hold up a "quiet" picture towards them and give them a "teacher look" if needed. Visuals help me a lot from having to stop my lessons to redirect behaviors.

    Don't give up just yet. I bet in a few weeks you see such a difference in their behavior and how you are managing everything. :)
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    It has only been 3 days. I would not expect a lot of academic learning done during the first week, I'd focus more on actually teaching them what you expect behaviorally. I teach high school, so I have no idea how to teach K I know the pressures of getting everything done, staying on the pacing guide, etc, BUT! You have to make sure there is a good enough classroom environment where learning can take place.
    Discipline first, instruction second - this is true at any grade level. If you can't get them to listen to you, they won't be learning anything, so like I said, focus on that. Otherwise it will be a very long, frustrating school year and most of these children will stay behind in learning.

    As someone said, a lot of these children might have been to home daycares, or grandma was watching them and they might not be used school setting. You have to be patient and def. can't tell a child to "shut up". Big no no.

    Don't take it personally when they say "when can we eat?" etc. They're not directing it at you, they're just hungry. It's a simple question. Don't get mad. My high schoolers sometimes ask "when is this class over?" "when can I get out of this class?" (gotta love their honesty). Since I haven't been reacting to these, they ask a lot less. I used to take it personally, now I'm not even sure why.

    Patience and persistence! :) It'll be ok.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    There are few more difficult jobs than being a Kindergarten teacher in the first month and a Kindergarten teacher in their first year teaching. I wish you the best of luck and just a few ideas that might help a little in the huge challenge ahead. None will be easy.

    1. Somehow try to be prepared the best you can each day. This might mean to simplify things.

    2. Keep calm somehow through all the chaos.

    3. Teach them a routine and practice, practice, practice.

    4. Read to them.

    5. Compliment and encourage them as much as you can.

    6. Get a good night sleep each night--you will need it.
     
  9. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    The experience(s) you describe are not unlike many teachers encounter during school start up. Basically you are teaching civilization. How to read and count comes later.

    Some questions: How much long-term experience do you have working/teaching kids in this age group? When do most of the problems seem to happen - direct instruction, transitions, guided practice etc.? What is your procedure for kids entering the room?
     
  10. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Aug 22, 2015

    Yes, the first few weeks with young students is HARD. Like the above posters said, teach procedures and practice them over and over and over.

    If you have a chance sometime, read the book "Teaching With Love and Logic." Although not all of it applies to PreK and K, I love the advice "Get them to fall in love with you." With little ones, if you can get them to hang on every word you say, they will do whatever you ask them to. During free time, talk to the students about their lives, what they like to play with, etc.

    Learn some fun songs and fingerplays and have them in your arsenal for those crazy times. Dr. Jean CDs are great, and the kids love her actions and dances. Pick short but high interest books and read them in your most entertaining voice. You really have to be an entertainer, and "on" all the time. It is exhausting!

    It will take some practice and some trial and error, but it is so worth it. I love teaching PreK-K! That's why it's my username!
     
  11. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Aug 22, 2015

    You can't quit. Quitting (after three days) makes you a loser. I will tell you that I wanted to quit (sub teaching) my whole first year and probably into the second. I dreaded it, mostly because I didn't like the classroom management aspect. But by hanging on and staying at it, I got comfortable.

    Look around at the women around you giving you advice. None of them are Superwoman. They ALL have their own struggles in teaching even today. Tthe best teacher that you can think of, struggles with things. Point being: they are all regular folks just like you--and they do it fine.

    BTW, nobody thinks you (as a first-year) is going to knock it out of the park. You are expected to struggle. But you aren't expected to quit. Or maybe you are... I don't know how tough the area is. But even in that case, don't you want to shove it in their face and prove them wrong?
     
  12. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Well, for the week I had been observing the other teachers and how they do things, so I haven't really been in my classroom and my aide has been taking over for me. What makes it worse is that this week is testing week so it won't be a regular full week until the end of August. I just hope it isn't too late to teach procedures and have some kind of structure in my classroom
     
  13. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    I'm not going to quit. I've spent the past few days observing the other teachers so I haven't really been in my classroom doing things my way. My aide has been running my class and they listen to her more than they listen to me. It's like when they see me, they just go haywire. They have testing next week, so they won't be at school for a full week, and I'm afraid that it may be too late to implement a discipline plan and have some sort of structure in my classroom. I just feel like that no matter what I say or do, my voice falls on deaf ears. They'll listen for one minute, but the second I turn my back, they're defiant and/or lazy again.
     
  14. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    It is never too late to start. Trust me! I watch behavior trends in my class very carefully. As soon as I see things getting out of control I pretend it is the first day and begin reteaching behaviors and expectations just like it is the first day of school. Works every time!
     
  15. vateacher757

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    Ok so it does not appear that they "can't" behave because they are fine with your aid.......what is your aid doing or saying? was she with them last year? are they familiar with your aid? Talk to your aid about how the both of you will "manage" the classroom, you 2 are in this together work as a team.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    It's never too late.
    The fact that they have testing and you won't really see them can be a good thing. take a break from them, get a new perspective and maybe come up with a new plan, or new ways of doing some of the things.

    Why do you think they listen to your aide and not you? How is your aide different from you? What does she do, or have that you don't? For example does she seem more confident? Is her voice stronger or sound like she means business more than you do? Is she nicer? Meaner? What's the difference?
    I'm not saying you have to be like her, but by analyzing how she is, maybe you can figure out what works for her, and that can help figuring out what could work for you.
     
  17. smile3

    smile3 Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2015

    students will act differently for all teachers/aides-

    Are you too lenient? Find what they do and make it your own !
     
  18. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    I think I may be too lenient, but it still feels like when I'm trying to put my foot down, even once, my voice falls on deaf ears. Regardless of what I'm saying or doing the students will either become defiant and catch an attitude, will stop for a minute and continue disobeying me, or they will ignore me completely! I just don't know if anything will work with these kids!
     
  19. Education4all

    Education4all Rookie

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    I feel your pain in every way. The classroom environment I have is the one I tried so hard to avoid. I admit it is my fault regardless of my challenging students. The frustrating part is that I am at a total loss for how to change direction, as i see very little or no improvement at all. One thing I will not do is quit on these kids. I worry if I will make it though, and if I will have a job next year due to my inexperience.
     
  20. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    When you say "put my foot down" what do you mean? Can you give an example - what students were doing, what you did and what happened? Also, is it the whole class (meaning all, everyone) or a group?
     
  21. bros

    bros Phenom

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    What methods do you try to get them focused on you? When I student taught kindergarten, we taught them a rhythmic clap - it went sort of like clap-clap (wait like half a second) clap-clap-clap - in response to it, the students had to clap it back and look at the teacher. Most would do it and the ones who didn't were very easy to spot - and their classmates would also see who was still being noisy.
     
  22. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    Hang in there! Remember kids want to please you. Look for the ones doing things right and praise the bejesus out of them. The others will follow suit. If I could really TEACH all day this job would rock. BUT we have to be kids everything-mom, police, nurse, counselor, motivator, encourager.... You got this! One day at a time!
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Behavior mgt can be the hardest thing for a new teacher. Without it, learning is compromised and is the main reason for many new teachers' dropping out/non-renewal.
    You have to hit the restart button....no amount of clapping patterns or talking louder is going to matter if they don't see you as being in charge. You haven't been in the classroom much, the aide is pretty much in charge, and they've gotten under your skin.
    TODAY you need to rearrange seats. Review and practice procedures ONE AT A TIME. Be patient, but use consequences for kids who don't seem to care about following your directions. Use what has worked for your aide and then adjust and make it your own. Lather, rinse, repeat.
     
  24. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Yes, yes, and yes! I like the mention of the restart button--in my head it is the "reset button". Even when simply gaining their attention I wait at least 10 seconds to speak just so they can get most of what they were doing out of their heads.

    Rearrange those seats!

    Review those procedures if they don't do them perfectly.

    One little tool I use for if they mess up big time (and this should only be used rarely, but you might want to use it more often to show control) is about 5 minutes of dead silence and staring from me.
     
  25. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    But how can I start over? They come in for testing on Wednesday and then back to regular schedule next week. I just don't feel like they'll listen to me at all. It's like two students will be talking when I'm trying to teach, then one student will say something like "be quiet ya'll" then the whole class will start talking and then I can't finish teaching or doing what I was doing. What do I do about kids who don't care about consequences?
     
  26. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    I've been trying to use the whole brain teaching way of me saying "class" and them saying "yes!", but that hasn't been working. I've been trying the thing where I'll get quiet and stop teaching, but that doesn't seem to work either. I just don't really know what to do. How should I teach procedures?
    My rules are: Follow Directions, Raise Your Hand, Listen to Others, Be Positive, and Work Quietly. Should my rules change? :help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help::help:
     
  27. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Well my aide would use a yard stick and slam it on the table if some are talking or off task. She would also poke the student with the yard stick if they're not following directions or are off task. I don't really want to use the yard stick, but it works on a few of them. I can't really rearrange the seats because they all know each other and they would talk to each other regardless, and one student is so disruptive, he will pester the other students regardless of where I put him.
     
  28. bros

    bros Phenom

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    With my student teaching, I arrived a week into the school year. They were still handling procedure until about two weeks into the school year - mostly just going over the rules for a few minutes every day by the two week mark. Sometimes, it is difficult for the students to hear a teacher say something, which is why they started to do clapping.
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    NewKindy. I wouldn't be slamming or poking with yardsticks. Fear and intimidation to manage behavior is never a good choice. You can't keep starting and abandoning management techniques. You need to buckle down. Re teach procedures and expectations. When s kid starts talking while you are teaching, gently remind. The second time tell the student that he's had two warnings - clip him down or put his name on s list or don't award him a star for that day. Any of these are consequences. Reward kids who are doing the right thing- give them a star or praise or first choice for centers- these would be the consequences for good behavior. Repeat behavior problems might need a call home or a behavior contract. But you've got to STICK WITH IT. kids are going to test your limits and since you've Already tried and given up on s few things they may try and wait you out. Don't give up. You're the boss. Let them know that through your control- without yelling or whacking sticks.

    Bros. the clapping is a strategy to get attention and must be taught like any other class procedure. Some teachers count or flip lights or have a key word ( as in whole brain teaching). The key is to teach, practice and review any mgt technique and be consistent.
     
  30. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Losing Control Of Your Class? Here’s How To Get It Back

    You don't need to smack yard sticks or poke them. In fact I highly recommend against that. (you could lose your job for abuse and harassment)

    Read the link I posted up there, and follow all of the other links on that article to the other articles, and read those. Continue doing that until you have a general grasp.

    Your kids don't see you as a leader. You need to assert your leadership by practicing procedures again and again until they're perfect. You need a strong consequence system in place, and you need a fun classroom that kids don't want to miss out on (which they will if they break the rules).
     
  31. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    That's a great article.

    On leadership... now, I would venture to say this ESPECIALLY applies with your demographic. They expect someone to be in charge, and that needs to be you. Don't be a drill seargent or terrifying, but develop the attitude it's YOUR classroom first and foremost and you'll be running the show. This isn't to say it's not their class to love and protect, but that you're in charge.
     
  32. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Maybe it would be time to ask for some help? Do you have a mentor or someone you would feel comfortable with asking for guidance? I'm very concerned with some of the things you are saying, especially with what your aide is doing. That needs to end. Like yesterday. I would be mortified as a parent if a teacher was intimidating my son like that and poking him with sticks. Actually, I would probably sue. Please talk to your aide. If it doesn't stop, you need to involve administration.

    Have you taught your kids how to do things or did you think they would come to school knowing how to do them? Kids, especially kinders, need to be shown what is expected for EVERYTHING. What does it look like and sound like when we are on the carpet? What does it look like when we line up? When we go to the restroom,etc. Set expectations for every. single. thing.you do. I'm not asking this to be be rude or snarky, so please don't take it that way.

    This is my 4th year teaching and 2nd as a classroom teacher and it was one of my biggest takeaways after last year. And I teach a very similar, if not identical demographic to you. I always assumed (and wrongly) that kids knew how to work quietly or stay seated, but they really don't. You have to show them and have them practice and practice over and over again until they get it. Especially with kiddos from the demographic you're teaching. Not only is it probably their first time in school ever, they may have no one available at home for whatever reason to show them what to do. And the poor babies, it's not their fault. Please don't forget that. :(

    You need a rock solid management plan and really need to buckle down on procedures. Try a redirect, clip down then a consequence. Have a system in place that rewards students for doing what you want/expect from them. Class Dojo works great as a positive reinforcement system and kids love it.

    Like others have said, It is never too late to stop and start over. Learning cannot happen with the classroom in chaos. If you need to just focus on procedures and hold back on the academics for a few weeks, do it. Your kids, and you, will be much happier (not to mention successful) the rest of the year if you do. And please reach out to someone at your campus for help.

    I really wish you luck! And hope that you are able to take something away from what we tell you here. I truly learned a lot of what not to do after my first year. Hang in there. :)
     
  33. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Thanks for this. A lot of the other teachers have said to "get your bluff on them". What would be a good classroom management plan? Should I change my rules? My rules are: Follow Directions, Work Quietly, Listen to Others, Be Positive, Raise your hand. What about students who don't do what I say, regardless of what I say or do? What about students who don't care about the consequences? I don't want to have to repeatedly tell students "sit down" "be quiet" etc. It's like my voice falls on deaf ears!
     
  34. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Stoplight system? If a student is good all day, they stay on green all day.

    If they act up and don't listen to the teacher's instructions, they have to go to yellow (We did Popsicle sticks and the students had to go and move their own stick). You can come up with a penalty for this.

    If they are especially not behaving that day, they can move their stick from yellow to red (Or if they do something that is very very bad, like hitting another student, trying to escape the classroom, things like that) and then the teacher sends a note/email home at the end of the day and calls the parent to make sure they know what happened.
     
  35. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I think the rules are just fine.

    A stoplight, card pull, or clip chart system (all variations on the same idea) could work great and allow kids to see what happens. Make sure you have the attached consequence, and even if it doesn't impress the kids give the consequences anyway. It's not about them quivering in fear, it's setting up your system and declaring it the way of things. They might tremble at the thought of a phone call home or think it's nothing but trite... do it anyway.

    I personally have done away with the public chart things... I find it too much of a hassle. I've seen several great no-chart blog posts from these young grades where the teachers simply dealt with each misbehavior as it came about.
     
  36. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2015

    I've been trying to avoid using a behavior chart, but the other teachers use behavior charts with consequences and it's hard trying to deal with misbehavior as it comes, especially with this class. My voice falls on deaf ears!! I tried to have a heart to heart with some of them, but that crap doesn't work. Some of these kids LIKE being bad. This student said he was bad in Pre-K, but the other teachers keep telling me he was good:huh: I just don't know what I'm going to do, and now I have to worry about impromptu evaluations from my principal and I'm already stressing out.
    My principal came into my room one day last week, and it was a DISASTER. I just don't know what to do. I tell them to "be quiet, put your head down, go sit down" and they don't do it. I try to give them something to do at their desks, but they STILL get up, especially at the end of the day. I don't know what I'm going to do, and I still have so much information coming at me. It's open houses, evaluations, grade group meetings, field trips, emails. Right now I hate this job, and my class is getting on my nerves. I mean, I got my first check today and that doesn't make me feel like this job any more. What should I do?! Like I said, they had testing this week and last week I observed the other teachers, so I haven't really taught my OWN class. I just don't know what to do. I don't even get to eat lunch. I'm so frazzled and I'll never get any relief.
     
  37. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 26, 2015

    NewKindy, what are your consequences?

    What do you do when they break the rules?
     
  38. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Aug 26, 2015

    I am thinking you need to do these kids a favor and tell admin that you are really not up for this specific job. Maybe it is a lack of experience with the age group, maybe the demographics, or just a total lack of experience, but your stress is going to bleed all over these students, who don't know any better. Hey, if the paycheck isn't enough motivation to get serious about perfecting your craft then you shouldn't be in front of this classroom or these kids, IMHO. You might want to seriously consider options that don't have a kindergarten class in them.
    :sorry:
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 26, 2015

    This. Entirely. :thumb: I personally don t care for visible behavior mgt like stop lights or clips but if it's being used by all your grade level colleagues and is working, you might want to try it. But bottomine, you need to take control, be consistent and enforce consequences for both good and inappropriate behaviors. Buckle down now, or I'm afraid you're in for a very tough year.
    As a mentor and coach, I'd hate for the OP to throw in the towel. It is time to buckle down NOW. Perhaps having a peer observe and offer suggestions, taking a course in behavior mgt, reading professional literature and sticking with a course of action.... It's not too late to regroup, but it will be if the OP doesn't get this class under control now.
     
  40. NewKindy1

    NewKindy1 Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2015

    Well it's been difficult since I haven't really been with the kids MYSELF for a full week. I won't get to really be with them until Monday and I can't really quit since I need to teach for a year to become fully certified
     
  41. msmpgt

    msmpgt New Member

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    Aug 26, 2015

    I'm a new teacher as well and I cried today, for the first time, but it was in my classroom during a break. I know what you're feeling because I feel it too. I feel like I don't have stasis, consistency. That's really hard for me because order is what makes me most comfortable; having a new career, new school and over 100 personalities to deal with is a lot when you have to deal with your own anxiety/nerves. All I can say is examine your situation for what it is and not what it might/could be. That's my issue and in the moments when I can just take my hands off and breathe...well, those moments I love teaching! If you ever need support just message me; I need it as well!
     

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