Constant talking and other things

Discussion in 'Behavior Management Archives' started by outer space, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. outer space

    outer space New Member

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    Nov 3, 2006

    Hello fellow teachers,

    this is my first post at this forum and already I'm asking you for help. I teach first year high-school and I'm not getting through to the students at all. They don't see me as someone who should be taken seriously.

    They talk during my lessons (even the ones that used to be quiet), sometimes they use mobile phones or cameras, they bring mp3 players to my classroom, they study for other subjects (especially if there's a test) or do homework for other subjects. We don't get anything done, because it's impossible to teach.

    There's no detention or sending the kid anywhere here, no taking away lunch or recess. I think I could call the principal only if something very serious happened. She's observed some of my lessons and said that I should make them more interesting. At the moment I just tell them what exercises to solve and then we check them. Not very interesting I know. I've observed one other teacher and when I modelled my lesson after hers the principal said it was ok.

    Regarding punishments - the only things that it seems I'm allowed to do are: check a student's knowledge and grade it (but everyone says they don't do that very often), write the student's name in their class book and demand a formal punishment, contact the parents (although it's mostly the class teachers who do that).

    I've told them that I will do this too many times, when I actually did it, it didn't have much effect any more. I haven't called the parents yet, but I saw a couple of them at the regular teacher-parent conferences. There have already been complaints about me and requests that I should be replaced. I was thinking about sending a note home for every little thing (not doing your work at school and not bringing homework). The principal told to give those who don't do their work extra assignments to complete. I have two students in the classroom who won't open a book if I don't stand right next to them and give them a speech about it and even then they put it away as soon as I'm gone. I have more than 30 students in the classroom and it's hard to control them all at once. I see that some of them would like to learn and are not happy with the situation, but it looks like some just don't care. It seems they like the extra break during my lessons.

    About making the lessons interesting - I've tried a few things but it worked for a few minutes only, then it's all back to where it was. A friend of mine suggested I should give the most talkative students an assignment (give them a week to learn a few passages from a play and present it in the class, write a few lines about the play and the author and read them beforehand).

    I feel like I don't know anything sometimes. I'm looking for help everywhere. I don't know what you must be thinking about me now that you've read this. I know first year teachers have problems but sometimes I think that no one ever was as bad as I am.

    I'm sorry the post is so long, but I just couldn't stop once I started writing.
     
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  3. georgiateacher

    georgiateacher Rookie

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    Nov 3, 2006

    I am sorry that your first year is off to such a bad start. I was wondering about the cell phones and mp3 players in class. If it was me and they brought them out during my class I would take them immediately and the only way that they could get it back is if their parents came to the school to get it. Hang in there. Remember you are the teacher of that class and deserve the respect. You have a right to demand the respect from the students as well as the parents. There are some parents that will try to bully first year teachers. My first year I had parents talk to me like I didn't have a clue about teaching. I just ignored their comments I did what I knew and felt was right for my class. It also sounds like you do not have a very supportive administration. Remember what the Bible says, " I can do all things through Christ who gives me strenght. Phillipians 4:13"
     
  4. synapse

    synapse Comrade

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    Nov 3, 2006

    Focus on the things you can control. You can't change everything at once, so start by addressing one issue. I would say that you should begin with your instruction. Good teaching is the most significant factor in classroom management. If you are saying your lessons are not creative and your principal is saying your lessons are not interesting...you must spend this weekend seriously working on your lesson plans.

    Consider the developmental level of your students, consider an engaging opening activity, think about instruction that engages your students with the topic and each other, create meaningful practice opportunities, consider how you will transition between lessons and activities within lessons...if you need to, go back to your methods text...or talk to a colleague you trust. Do whatever it takes to have next weeks worth of instruction thoughtfully planned.
     
  5. Poisontipped

    Poisontipped Rookie

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    Nov 3, 2006

    When someone is my class constantly talks, the teacher will generally say something such as...

    "Am I interupting something you <insert name here>??? Because I dont want to seem rude and all."

    or

    "I look forward to marking your first exam/essay/test <insert name here>! seeing as you already know everything"

    In regards to class interuptions like MP3 players/ iPods and mobile phones. Mp3 players are allowed as long as we are doing book work (such as excersises in our textbook) and they are not loud. However, this generally depends on the teacher, some are willing, some are not. Mobile phones, if they are used in class will be confiscated and able to be picked up at the end of term, with a letter from the teacher. However, with that said, I have personally never seen that inforced atall.

    I understand that those interuptions are annoying!!! Especially mobile/cell phones! Someone had one of their phones, in their locker left on. For the whole period the phone was ringing, but we didn't know who's it was!

    Anyway, best of luck in the classroom!!!!
     
  6. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    Nov 3, 2006

    I agree that the first thing that you should work on is the presentation of your material. What subject do you teach? there are so many teachers on this forum that will be happy to give you specific ideas for a topic. If your not feeling creative, get the juices flowing by asking around " what would you suggest to grab to a teenagers attention about this topic?" Some of the things you hear might seem like frills, but honestly, don't most people like a little gravy added to their "meat and potatos?."
     
  7. outer space

    outer space New Member

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    Nov 3, 2006

    It's nice to read so many encouraging posts. :)

    I teach intermediate English. We have a textbook that I'm supposed to follow, I can bring in extra material as long as the subject matter in the textbook is covered. This other teacher I observed follows the textbook and yet she seems to make it interesting somehow.

    I tried to confiscate the phones, but the students don't want to give them to me or they hide them away and I don't want to literally pull the phones out of their hands or search through their bags, so I don't know what to do about that.

    The administration is quite supportive, but they made it clear that this is my responsibility and that I should be able to handle this myself soon.

    Anyway, trying to work on my presentation. I thought about taking examples from a popular tv show instead of the impersonal examples in the textbook for one of my lessons, but I wonder if that's appropriate? Maybe the students will think that I'm not being serious? One of my co-workers said that I should just try and experiment and see what works best. Someone also suggested that perhaps we should work together as one group for a while before I start giving any indivivual assignments in class again.

    I checked the other threads in the forums, some tips look promising, the students might like them. Thanks for the advice.
     
  8. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Nov 3, 2006

    If it is grammar, try putting their names into sentences. I will sometimes hand out papers with sentences for them to find verbs, nouns, etc., and as they are reading it and realizing that their names are on the paper, they always get more interested.
     
  9. MissENJ

    MissENJ Rookie

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    Nov 3, 2006

    I teach 11th grade English, so I know your pain about making the text interesting. I always try to find a way to relate what we're doing in the text to real life, and it seems to help them understand the material. For example, when we read Anne Bradstreet's "Here Follow Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House," a very hard poem for my Special Needs students, I had them write a paragraph on how they would feel if they lost everything they owned in a fire. We then had a class discussion and read the poem. When we read A Raisin in the Sun, I had them individually write down what they would do if they were given a large sum of money. I then had them get into groups and try to come up with just one way to spend the money that would benefit the entire "family." That activity helped them understand the conflict in the story.

    Does your textbook have any additional resource materials? Our textbooks (Holt Elements of Literature) come with several teacher resource books that include graphic organizers for every section, grammar lessons, formal assessments and overhead projector sheets. There's also a video series that we can borrow from our English department.

    I am a very young looking first year teacher. I had an issue with gaining respect in the classroom in September, but following through on consequences helped me overcome that. My school has a very strict cell phone/electronic device policy.....it's an automatic 2 day out of school suspension if the student is caught with one. You might not be able to control the consequences outside the classroom due to school policy, but you should be allowed to lower their grade if they cannot behave. I take points off for disruptive behavior....it goes along with their classwork grade. If they can't behave during classwork, they aren't getting it done.

    If I have a few students who just can't be quiet that day, I will have the other students move to the other side of the room, and move on with my lesson. They usually get the hint, and one by one come join the rest of the class. I have the benefit of being a Special Education teacher, though, because I only have a maximum of 12 students in the room at one time. If I had 30 students in the room, I would probably change their seats, and try to do a lot of group work (separating the disruptive students). I went to a workshop a few weeks ago, and the presenter had a great idea about group work. Give each student a different color marker and have them each write out their part of the assignment on one large sheet of paper. This way you can see who was participating and who wasn't.
     
  10. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

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    Nov 4, 2006

    I am a first year teacher too, and I changed seat very often the first month of school. It is important to let the students know that you run the class and you have high expectations. If they do not meet your expectations they must face consequences or they will not 1. learn from their actions and 2. They will not respect you. I know of a young teacher (early 20s) who teaches high schoolers and she is having a terrible time because she is so young. It doesn't help matters that she dresses like a teeanager. I think if you are very young, you have to look not only nice, but professional and maybe a little "stuffy". I know that I look very young for my age even though I am in my mid 30s, so I make wear my long hair in a bun and I wear glasses instead of contacts. As a first year teacher I have to be seen as in control and maybe "feared" a little, just to get my classroom atmosphere just the way I want. Being nice is not going to get you anywhere at the beginning of the year because the kids will see it as weakness. Now that we are in the 3rd month of school, the students know how to behave in my class and we can have more fun because the kids do an excellent job at monitoring themselves and eachother. It's great!
     
  11. Tigers

    Tigers Habitué

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    Nov 4, 2006

    group work is probably the best. for grammar I would suggest highlighting gramatical errors in pop-culture i.e. ending sentences with prepositions, sentence fragments and so on (<---dangling preposition). For the literature the classics and the modern lit. are similar in that the themes are relevent today. most high school students are theorized to be in the "identity vs. role diffusion" stage of Erikson's psychosocial development. From this, we know that discovering what they believe and who they are are processes they are already undertaking. So, find the issues; then, let them debate, write, and discuss.
    oh yeah, make sure you are excited about the topics...it helps
     
  12. Tigers

    Tigers Habitué

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    Nov 4, 2006

    as far as the behavior is concerned, you must be consistant. You should talk to the parents. I know we chose the profession to work with the kids, but the parents are a part of the package. Consider developing positive relationships with the parents first. Hopefully, if you do this, they won't take too much offense to you telling them about a behavioral concern with their little angel. Once the parents see you have your ducks in a row they will take you more seriously. But, if the parents aren't taking you seriously, how can you expect the kids to take you seriously. It stand to reason that the children could do whatever they please and then blame you. If the parents don't know you or take you seriously they are more likely to agree. Admin. will eventually buckle to the parents. So you need to gain some parental support.
     
  13. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    Nov 12, 2006

    I would be careful with these statements - know your audiance, and be careful with your tone. Sarcasm can either work as a little humor to get kids back on track, or it can be your worst enemy. I would be worried that if I used sarcasm, I'd be asking for it right back from the kids. - and I don't just mean my first graders. All ages.
     
  14. Poisontipped

    Poisontipped Rookie

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    Nov 13, 2006

    I understand completely G1T. Sarcasm can work against you and I have seen it used in specific situations where the things completely declined. But this teacher was well liked and generally a funny person, the people who were even talking smiled, then they got back to work straight away. It was intended as some light humour and a reminded to stop talking :)

    But alot depends on reputation. If a teacher has a reputation as a funny, well liked person it's okay. But someone who is a strict disciplinarian wont get the same results.
     

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