Feeling very insecure about classroom mgmt skills

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by geogirl0626, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2011

    I'm a 2nd year teacher and we don't start school until the day after Labor day. As with many 1st year teachers, I had a really hard time with classroom management. Most of my classes were great, but I had two that were just terrible sometimes. They talked over top of me, didn't complete classwork, threw things at each other and all other sorts of nonsense. At the beginning of the year, I was really nice and sweet and they sensed that I would be kind of a pushover and I guess I was. I worked really hard to improve it throughout the year and it was definitely better at the end of the year.

    But now that I'm getting ready to start a new school year, I still don't know exactly what to do to start off on the right foot should I have a group of unruly kids again. Our administrative staff is great with discipline when it's something severe enough to need a referral. But I just need effective ways to deal with the minor stuff, like talking, throwing things at each other, and general teenager nonsense.

    Any advice for me? How do I walk in the class and show those kids that they can't walk all over me? I want to be firm, but fair. I want to be strict with the rules, especially at first, but I don't know how.

    Thanks :). By the way, I teach 9th grade earth science (with a few 10, 11, and 12s thrown in) in a high school that is classified as "urban."

    Megan
     
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  3. mathrulz

    mathrulz Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Well my experience has not been exactly the same but hopefully helps in some way. I started in the classroom fairly young and was extremely worried about getting respect from the students. So, I always dressed professionally (button down shirts, dress pants or skirts) and treated our time as professional work time (we got started right away - no time for silliness and stories). I did not try to be their friend, I did not tell them about myself, etc.

    This worked to a certain extent. They knew what to expect from me. You have to be consistent with the rules (if you don't want them to talk over you then do something about it - every time they do it). If you have problems that are disrupting instruction, talk to the student. (It may not work all the time, but sometimes you can find the underlying issue and deal with it).

    Now with all this said, I think my problem was that I was too distant from the students in my quest to be professional so, I have been working on developing rapport with my classes. But it is a fine line. I am still working on this four years later.

    Good luck in your second year!
     
  4. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2011

    I also teach ES in Virginia.

    For me, a HUGE help was requiring that students enter the classroom ready to work. If they were noisy, rowdy, goofing off, I had them go back into the hall and try again. They were also required to be in their seats ready to work, with all materials, when the bell rang, or they would be sent to the tardy office.

    Both of those were rare occurrences after the first week or two and they set the tone for my class.

    If you want to compare notes or talk lesson plans, etc pm me!
     
  5. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2011

    I use a warning system. It can be name on the board, or whatever. This year, I've moved to cards.

    You get a warning card for whatever stupid thing it is that you're doing.
    If I have to tell you to stop again, you get detention.

    One detention is usually all it takes. This year, I've only given out warnings, no detentions yet.
     
  6. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2011

    @mathrulz - I definitely agree with being professional. I dressed the part, but did not always act the part. I joked with the kids and did tell them stories. I had great rapport with my classes and the kids really liked me. It was just too much, you know? I don't need them to be my friends, and while I never saw them that way, I fear they viewed me as too much of a "friend." Thanks for your input :)

    @Ms.SLS - I was thinking of doing a name or card type thing for a warning system, but I was worried they wouldn't take it seriously. The main thing I need is a specific way to get everyones attention and be able to talk for 10 to 15 minutes at a time without interuption. Getting everyone back to me after we've been doing an activity is my hardest thing.

    @mollydoll - How did you make sure they had their materials as they came in? Our kids have 8 minutes between classes and in a couple of my classes, we had several roll in at the last minute. However, I didn't have an "in your seat" tardy rule. Maybe if I did send them out for a tardy for not being in their seat when the bell rang would help. I think starting the class like with order and calmness would proabably alleviate many of my problems. I'll PM you about other stuff :)
     
  7. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Their initial assignment was always on the board in the same place. Directly underneath that was a little cart with any materials they needed to start, including pencils, pens, etc.

    If they didn't have homework or similar, they would either ask me to allow them to go to their locker, or sit there and suck it up (which meant me giving them a fresh copy and them starting over).

    At any rate, nobody was up trying to get makeup work kr sharpen a pencil or get bell work after the bell. If they did, they were tardy, or would have to wait quietly untilmafter attendance and everyone settled in and risk being late finishing the bell work.

    In practice, once things were smooth, I didn't have to be a hard ass about it if a circumstance were unusual. If a kid who was a,ways on time rushed in at the last minute once and without being disruptive got settled, I let it pass with a warning. The kids who were not always on time etc tended to use up their warning the first week.
     
  8. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Consistency is essential. Decide what tardy is in your room and stick to it. You want to be a friendly authority figure, not a friend. I teach seniors and use the Whole Brain Teaching class/yes as my attention-getter; I also use the Scoreboard periodically. Check out the WBT website; there's lots of good ideas there.
     
  9. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Aug 22, 2011

    The best advice I ever heard was to build a gallows and then hang a few.

    Go after the first kids who test you in the first days and show the consequences in action, even if it's for minor infractions like talking or passing notes. Show that you don't give second chances or tolerate any breaking of rules by enforcing whatever the discipline plan is...detention during recess, writing lines, calling parents, etc...immediately and without taking argument from students.
     
  10. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2011

    It sounds to me that you are really evaluating things and things will be better this year. I agree with things already mentioned about professionalism in dress, etc. and I'll offer one more simple and effective hint. I always meet students at the door - this allows me to greet them, comment on a new hairstyle, and generally converse. But what it also does is establish that this is my classroom they are entering and I am in charge of it from start to finish. There is always something posted on the board to get started on. Don't underestimate the effectiveness. Also, always have plans from minute 1 to the end. No loose ends.
    Good luck!
     
  11. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Yeah 2 of my classes were out of control too by the second week. Some would run out of class, some would throw books at one another, some were eating. The worst thing was the talking or (wall of noise I called it) while we were trying to read something. I felt so guilty because the kids who were trying to learn couldn't learn and it was all my fault. One time I looked up from my textbook , and no one was paying attention to me; it was like I was invisible.

    It did get better when I implemented my discipline plan after Christmas break, but there were always those 5 or 6 kids who tested my patience on a daily basis.
     
  12. mathrulz

    mathrulz Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Good to see that it is never too late to change things (classroom management-wise) and see improvements.
     
  13. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Aug 22, 2011

    Well, I can also tell you that you are not alone in this. This will be my 2nd year teaching as well, and I had a very similar experience last year and have been doing a lot of reflecting over the summer.

    It has been said and is sort of cliche, but it's all about consistency. Same rules for all. Make sure your consequences make sense to you and are fair or you won't give them out consistency.

    Talking is the most frequent problem and I went through the same thing as you...students talking while I was trying to teach and acting like I wasn't there. I felt so helpless and like such a failure, I just didn't know what to do. Start the tone off right. Address it immediately when the 2 or 3 stinkers you will have in each class start to test you. If not, as you know, those few become a mass that you cannot control. Try not to reprimand them too publicly because the attention is probably what they want. I recommend the book Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. ( I know, so many books and philosophies). THe book really addresses these issues that we both had. Check out Limit Setting and Preferred Activity Time for whole class incentive.

    Take a look at your procedures and over work them to think of how they might be twisted or tested. Make sure you know what your expectations are for every situation you can think of so you can be clear and consistent.

    Gee I wrote you a book. I just really connected with what you said! Take my advice for what it is worth, I am starting with my kiddos on Monday so whether my reflection and planning will help create a better year for me has yet to be seen. Good luck, relax and know that you are a good teacher because you care enough to try and improve.
     
  14. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2011

    I started researching WBT and watched a bunch of videos. I really like it. Then I texted my friend who went to some conference at the beginning of the summer and it was a WBT training! She and another teacher are supposed to train the rest of us.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 23, 2011

    If your kids were out of control on week 2, why did you wait until Christmas to implement a discipline plan?
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 23, 2011

    Wow!!! It sounds as though you've really been giving this a LOT of thought. That's incredibly important for teachers to do each year: to look back at what went right and what went wrong, and-- most important-- how to improve.

    I'm confident you'll find that magic balance between being someone they can learn from and someone whose class they enjoy.
     
  17. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Aug 23, 2011

    I tried some WBT last year and I found it to be pretty exhausting and hard to keep up with. That's just me though. It just seems to require you to always be "on."
     
  18. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 26, 2011

    One of the most basic and easiest forms of discipline management is moving your bod. Have you noticed it is very unlikely students goof off when you are standing near them? At the same time, doesn't most of the goofing off occur with students farthest away?

    Consider:

    First day, first minute -

    -Greet students at door one at a time (do not let them in as a group)

    -Introduce yourself to each and learn names

    -Give each a bell work assignment, seat # on it, with prompt to follow directions written on board

    -Wait and watch each find seat

    -Move among students as they work

    Students size up the teacher within seconds. They can tell whether this is a work class or kick-back class by the way the teacher begins the year. In the above example the teacher has taught several lesson and the school year is barely five minutes old:

    1) My class starts at the door
    2) I respect you enough to learn your name
    3) I will assign you a seat
    4) I will have something for you to do
    5) I will be near you when you are working
     
  19. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2011

    LOVE all your ideas. What kind of bell work would you give on the first day? I know I want to start off immediately with a bell assignment so they come in and are working, but I don't know exactly what to do! I will have a seating chart already in place for sure and I always greet students at the door. However, this year I am going to be strict about HOW they walk in my door. Last year I had a little bit of craziness and rough-housing as they entered, esp the boys, but I never did anything about it.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2011

    Your opening bell work can be to copy something-- your homework policy, your test schedule, anything. Have some paper and pens or pencils for anyone who wasn't prepared.

    Greet them at the door, let them know where their seats are, and let them know there's an assignment to be copied.

    Alternately, you can have an article on last week's earthquake or today's hurricane xeroxed for them to read. Then, after taking attendance and doing your expectation spiel, you can tie current events into what you'll be teaching.
     
  21. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Aug 27, 2011

    I'm going to put up the question " where were you at 1:51 pm, Aug 23?"

    They will write their answer out in an index card that I provide.

    We will do more later in the class, but that will be their bell work.
     
  22. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2011

    Just out of curiosity, molly, but why that question? It seems very random!
     
  23. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    We had a 5.8 earthquake here!
     
  24. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 27, 2011

    WBT can be a little tiring, but more the 'nice workout' than 'emotionally exhausted and frustrated' that a lot of teachers feel.

    Remember that you can easily switch traditional stuff in with WBT. You do not have to do it all the time every day.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    PERFECT!!!!
     
  26. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2011

    We are both in VA and we had a 5.9 earthquake at 1:51pm on August 23rd. I was at Water Country, which is an amusement park in Williamsburg. I didn't feel it because I was both outside AND in the water. Harder to feel outside and almost impossible to feel when in a pool :).

    I will definitely be talking about that and Hurricane Irene (currently upon us. I have power right now, but probably won't for long!) on the first day of school. Proof that my subject is relevant to their lives!

    That's a good idea Molly. I think I may do that too. I was going to use index cards and have them ready on the desks when the kids come in.

    I'm torn about having pens/pencils ready because I'm fairly sure I'm not going to give them out this year. I had a huge problem last year with kids not being prepared and it was such a pain. I just gave out pencils and it got to be expected so they didn't even bother having what they needed. I'm still waffling with this one though. I have purchased a bunch of pencils since they are so cheap right now.
     
  27. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Aug 27, 2011

    I don't think it's worth fighting the pencil/pen issue. Get some silly, embarrassing pencils like pink sparkly princess pencils and they won't walk as much. Stick flowers on them.

    Make sure kids know that they need to be returned. Make it a part of the routine: last minute of class ask for them back, don't count on them remembering. If they ask to keep it for next class, let them.

    Lack of materials is a crap excuse for lack of learning.
     
  28. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Re: pink princess pencils.

    The girls who like them also tend to be the girls who have nice, organized supplies. They have their own pink pens. (I did have a few boys who liked them and wanted one, but since they weren't the majority, hardly put a dent in my supply.)

    The kids who forget stuff tend to be mortified by pink princess pencils.

    A fun by product of this was a behavior award. These were 9th graders, but they like silly too. My mom got me these horrible, enormous Christmas themed pens with tinsel and led lights and more. I thought they would be embarrassing to use, but the kids turned using them into an award, so use for the day became a prize. Go figure! :lol:
     
  29. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2011

    Ah, molly, that makes sense!!
     
  30. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 27, 2011

    Something easy, self-directed. Goal is to get them all working not sitting, waiting. Also, what do they do when finished with bell work? Do they sit and wait for lesson to start? Consider, also, as part of routine introducing sponge activity -- an activity which is on-going and students use any time they are waiting.

    Consider:

    Stand facing and stop each as they enter (not to the side). Shake hands, introduce yourself and name. Hand each card with seat # (number seats in advance) and any assignment. Prompt- "Find your seat and follow written directions on board." Move and let first student in. Stop next student and start over with each. Take your time. Walk slowly among students as they work. If they ask questions which are plainly on board don't answer -- point. If you want to make small talk while you are working the crowd -- "Neat handwriting", "Good answer", "Interesting way to say that" etc. it is optional.

    Reason for handing card (assignment) at door is it makes it more personal and no excuses, "Hey teach! I can't find my card you said was on my desk."
     
  31. mathrulz

    mathrulz Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2011

    One thiing I do about pencils is require collateral to get a pencil from me. I have students handing me make-up, ipods, keys to their house - just to borrow a pencil. By trading for something that is important to them, they always remember at the end of the period to hand my pencil back to me.
     
  32. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Be wary of this: being responsible for student belongings can easily come back to bite you in the rear. Do YOU want to be involved if a kid loses their house key later in the day? You say you gave it back, they say you didn't...or an iPod might get stolen, or any number of things that you do not want to be involved in.
     
  33. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2011

    geogirl0626, I almost never give out writing implements. I tell them to borrow from someone else. It's never been a problem for me, although I tend to have a pretty responsible bunch so there generally aren't ones who just mooch off of everyone else all the time. I think part of is is peer pressure, too; nobody wants to be the person to whom everyone else says "How come you never have a pencil?"

    If it did become a problem/distraction for me, though, I'd just buy a box of golf pencils. Cheap and annoying to write with.
     
  34. crunchytxmama

    crunchytxmama Companion

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    Aug 28, 2011

    I haven't read through the whole thread, but in case no one threw it out there please visit www.smartclassroommanagement.com . I looped with a group that I taught last year. They were pretty awful for me last year and my room was chaos. I am using his system and my students are respectful, my classroom is quiet and calm, and I don't feel stressed or emotional everyday. What he says really does work. We've been in school for 2 1/2 weeks and people keep commenting on "how much they've grown up," but really it was that I didn't know how to handle them.
     
  35. mathrulz

    mathrulz Rookie

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    Thanks for the warning. I do make sure that I hand them back their item in front of the class so that I will have some witnesses to the exchange. I also lock up the items so that they can not be removed by anyone but me. But I have to say that usually it is so much more of a hassle for the students that they manage to find a pencil elsewhere.

    On the note of classroom management. Another teacher at my school has used an organizer worksheet for the students who misbehave getting them to think about their actions (for the instances that are bigger than just a quick comment/look/movement to the student but not big enough to warrant a trip to the office). It is kind of like an input-output table where the students fill in what made them commit the action and what they think the consequences could/should be. I liked the worksheet but have not tried it myself yet.
     
  36. geogirl0626

    geogirl0626 Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2011

    Golf pencils! What a great idea!! I think I read that somewhere before but had totally forgotten. I want to have something just in case, but I will let the kids know the first day that they are responsible for bringing something to write with and on.

    I stopped giving pencils late in the year last year and I had kids decide to NOT do the work because they didn't have a pencil. I have no problem giving a zero to a student who refuses to do the work, but having a kid sitting there doing nothing and bothering the other kids is just asking for trouble.
     
  37. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 29, 2011

    You can purchase pencils at our high school library. So, a few teachers will sell the students pencils for cost so students don't have to go elsewhere to buy one. All money was used to purchase more pencils. There was also leeway. For example, the kid whose mechanical pencil ran out of lead was able to just use a pencil and return it.
     

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