Feelings of incompetence, anyone?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by 7thbynni, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2013

    I don't know why I'm amused that the new teacher's thread is found under "Special Interest."

    Hello all. I've finished my third week of teaching grade 7 and OMG, they have been awful.

    More accurately, I have been awful at them. Two of my students got up and left the school today at different time because they didn't want to put my with inconsistency and fluster fumbling attempts at teaching anymore. I've lost control of my students more times than I can count. Snack time is a nightmare where the dishes are left undone and any attempts to get the students to own up to who left the dishes in the sink goes nowhere.

    My problem was (is?) that I'm the wishy washiest person on this planet. I can't stick to a plan. I've changed the seating plans three times already. I came up with rules and consequences later in the week because I couldn't think of any beforehand. I can't visualize what my "ideal classroom" would be past "kids love my lessons" and "they behave themselves."

    I couldn't visualize how anything would go. I'm one of those very annoying people who can't figure things out until she's going through it and doing it. And then I need lots of time to sit back and reflect on it, which I don't have with teaching. I'm too busy trying to learn science, math, dance (DANCE? are you kidding me? DANCE?), and two grades of geography the night before I have to teach them.

    A lot of time I forget what I learned and I'm at the chalkboard going, "crap! is the primary consumer at the top of the energy pyramid or near the bottom?"

    I feel like I'm in constant reactionary panic mode. Things that I think are simple, like getting the students to write "About the Author" blurb about themselves for their writing portfolio turns out to be a herculean task with unforeseen complications I never thought would exist. (Getting them to come up with things they could write about themselves was like pulling teeth. And then I had to get them to change it to third person. OMG, you would have thought I was asking them to write a dissertation with the way they moan and howled about it.)

    Yesterday I took them to the library to check out some books for their reading buddies. That was a DISASTER of epic proportions.

    Complications keep popping up that I don't expect. I had no idea what was expected from past "raise the math and literacy scores up 20%" (yeah, right. It would have helped if someone told me how to do the attendance first.)

    It feels like I'm constantly trying to figure out EVERYTHING about three days late (including attendance) and it's just... frustrating.

    I feel extremely incompetent right now. Most days I feel like I'm making things worse for the students. It has to be frustrating for them to put up with a teacher who doesn't know what she's doing most of the time.

    Anyone else felt completely overwhelmed and incompetent when they first started? How did you get over it and gain some confidence? I need some confidence badly. The kids know I don't have it and they're eating me alive.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 20, 2013

    Deep breaths.

    We'll talk you through this.

    But, to be totallyl honest, it's 10:30 on a Friday night after a long week. I promise you, tomorrow I'll give some thought to your problems and see how I can help. Tonight, though, I'm toast.

    Maybe someone here has some energy left and can help you tonight.

    In the meantime, why not read some threads that look promising.

    One thing I can tell you is this: you're certainly not the first new teacher to have a rough start. Deep breaths... we'll get you through this.
     
  4. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2013

    Thank-you! Take your time. I'm going to head off and collapse into bed myself right now as well. I wasn't expecting a reply this quickly :) Thank-you for reminding that I'm not the first new teacher having a rough start. I will definitely work on taking deep breaths.
     
  5. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Sep 21, 2013

    Hi there, I'm a fairly new teacher, too (I've taught since January -- HS science). I'll gladly think over some of the issues you mentioned today and get back to you. Alice will probably have THE answer to your problems because she's a guru! But everyone here offers a range solid advice, and you will surely find some methods that work. Keep your chin up! And happy weekend. :)
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    OK, it's early in the morning and I'm up and ready to face the day. I tend to be long winded, so go grab a cup of coffee before you read, I'll wait.....

    You have a couple of things really working in your favor. Primarily: you're aware of the problem. Not just in the "they wont' listen" kind of way, but you've pinpointed your problem down to a lack of consistency. That's HUGE, for a number of reasons. Also, You're not blaming the kids, or your mentor, or your principal. So you're willing to work on the problem instead of wishing it away. And you're not saying that you're not cut out for teaching; you've narrowed down the problem to the same thing that so many people struggle with in the beginning.

    So there's hope. You've come here for help, and I'm confident that this community can get you through.

    So let's start with that.Let's come up with a formula for your class.

    I teach math, so here's how my class goes:
    - When the bell rings, I start with a prayer (obviously I'm in a Catholic HS.) I mean as soon as the bell rings: I say "OK, let's get started, In the name of the Father...." Minus the prayer, you can do the same thing.

    - When the kids get to the room, homework is already on the board, in the same place each day. (It's also posted on my webpage a week at a time.) There's a Do Now on the board. They know to begin immediately so I can take attendance and check homework.

    - I walk from person to person checking the homework. I take a highlighter and run it through the assignment, so I don't see the same work later in the day from a friend, or tomorrow from the same kid.

    - I go over the homework. This year I've tried something different: I have one kid read his/her answers, and anyone who disagrees with one lets me know, then I go over that problem. (Because ONE of them got it wrong, and it doesn't matter which one.)

    - I put up the title for today's lesson, and teach until the bell.

    You teach Science and Social Studies, so you'll want to talk to teachers of those subjects for a model for your class. But the important things are a) a routine and b) that you keep them working and learning from bell to bell.

    OK, you mentioned floundering at the board. That comes back to planning. You know those lesson plans you did in student teaching? The ones that went on for pages and planned every last word? They were there for a reason: to help you anticipate exactly what you wanted to say.

    I don't work off a real lesson plan, but that's because I've been teaching math since Noah counted the animals 2 by 2. In your shoes, I suggest some serious time this weekend planning. Hit Staples or Office Max, and get yourself some binder (one for each course ) and lots of sheet protectors. Get your syllabus and really plan out each lesson. Include that energy pyramid and anything else.If it's supposed to go into their notes, I want it in yours. This isn't college, where you could rely on the knowlege you already had; it's teaching where you're juggling a lot of balls at the same time. Give yourself the gift of complete notes to rely on.

    Oh, and I bet half an hour on Google would get you a lot of those lesson plans for the upcoming week. Let us know exactly what you're teaching this week in each of your courses, and let's see what we can come up with.

    As far as classroom management: 7th graders are all about fair. So I want you to sit and come down with a list of consequences. Some for minor transgressions, others for minor.

    For me, here's the sequence:
    - Jon, you need to copy the notes.
    - "The teacher stare" at Jon. (Practice it in the mirror. It involves looking right through a kid's head with a blank look on your face. And maintaining that stare for a good 30 or 45 seconds, well beyond the point where he's stopped the bad behavior. The, without saying a word, you get back to what you were doing.)
    - "Jon, see me after school."
    - "Jon, you have detention with the dean." as I hand him the detention slip.

    It's been years since I've given a dean's detention. Probably my favorite after school punishment... say, for too much chatting... is to multiply your phone number by your zip code. (with the warning that next time they'll be checking it by division.)

    Stop changing the seating plan. Too many teachers think it's a silver bullet for classroom management. The reality is that, given the opportunity, a kid who wants to talk will talk to anyone. The trick is in not providing that opportunity.

    You mention issues with the basics, like attendance. Do you have a mentor? If not, then find one yourself. Find a teacher who seems to have it together and ask for help. Be honest about the issues you're having... spend some time this weekend coming up with a concrete list. Ask to observe his/her class during one of your free periods, or to have him/her stand outside your classroom as you teach. (So the kids don't miraculously turn into angels for the observer.)

    Also, I want you to pinpoint one or two class leaders who seem to want to do the right thing. And I want you to call their moms on Monday and let them know what great kids they have. Call two more on Tuesday. For some of the kids, you'll have to really search for the positive. That's OK, search. One, because it will help you remember. And, two, because word will get out both among the kids and the parents.

    That's a lot. Stop, re-read it, and ask away!

    (And, no, I'm not a guru :lol: But I have figured out what works for me. I'm hoping some of it will also work for you.)
     
  7. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 21, 2013

    Yeah that.

    Other ideas:

    Write out an exact replica of your notes and magnet/tape them next to or on the chalkboard. I've been teaching my subject (history) for years and will still occasionally blank out on what I was going to write next.

    If you don't have a large, written copy of your rules/expectations, make one this weekend and go over with the kids on Monday. Practice your authority-voice.

    One of the things I always tell the new entrants into my former teaching program (I was part of this odd program that uses a lot of past graduates as mentors for new entrants) is my attitude about my room, which I work VERY hard to convey to my students: This is MY house. This is MY room and I own everything in it. I'm LETTING you use my desks and chairs. I control what happens in my space. You are a guest and to a certain degree, you will act as such. You may never actually say those words to a student (although I tell them "take your feet off my furniture" all the time :p) but that's the confidence you need to portray. No wishy-washiness. What's to be weak about? This is YOUR space and YOUR lesson.

    You def need to better about the planning though. Alice's suggestions were write on. Start writing those long detailed plans and STICK to them. At least until you are comfortable enough to go off book and be ok. If you can't visualize it, use other people's visions. My first year, I used so many of my mentor teacher's plans because they were just SO much better than anything I could think of.

    Ignore the teeth gnashing and moaning. I still get it in 9th grade once they realize how much writing I do in history class. One class, I got so annoyed by it, that everytime someone whined, I increased the length of the writing by 5 sentences. Stopped that problem! :p

    THere are a million answers and maybe 10% will work for YOU, but you have to keep trying until you find that 10%.

    Good luck!
     
  8. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Sep 21, 2013

    I'm confused about one thing- why do you have snack time in 7th grade?

    A lot of good advice has been given so far and I completely agree with the planning. Another thing that may help with the planning is to plan an entire unit out at once, instead of day by day or even week by week. When I taught 3 sections of science (5th grade), I would literally look at the topic and gather every resource I had, the school had, and that I could find on the internet. I mean everything- projects, videos, worksheets, etc... I then narrowed down the activities and lessons. I'd even write any tests or quizzes right then. I'd write my plans out as "Day 1, Day 2, Day 3" this allowed me to use them in all three classes even if we weren't on track. (Obviously plans were tweaked to meet the needs/personality of each class, but many things were the same.) This also allowed me to keep them and reuse them in following years. It SEEMS like it takes a lot of time to do it this way, but it actually saves time. It takes a longer chunk of time initially, but my plans would take me 2-6 weeks. So you end up saving time in the long run. Plus, I'd run all copies right then and it'd also be weeks before I had to copy again. Sure, things pop up, but for the most part I'd have a few weeks of no planning and copying.

    My only other piece of advice is to prioritize your problems. Don't even try to fix it all at once. First thing you need to do is become consistent.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    If you take nothing else from this thread, I want it to be this:
    You're not incompetent, you're merely new.

    Incompetent teachers aren't aware of the problems in their classrooms. And, when made aware, they don't take the steps to fix the problems.

    That doesn't sound like you. You sound like someone who is aware of the problems, and has come here to help find workable solutions.

    So hang in there.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    On the subject on consistency:
    My school has a motto that the kids hear about over and over again:

    COR (Latin for "heart"): Civility, Order and Respect.

    If they can maintain those three things, our school will function.

    The other day, I came across a kid in the hallway giving another kid a hard time. I yelled at him, and got his name. Then I wrote a note to his guidance counselor, who pulled him in for a chat about COR. (The kid later apologized to me. Not sure how sincere it was, but I'm hoping that we headed off a potential issue in guidance instead of the dean's office.)

    Let those be the rules for your classroom. Anyone in violation of COR is in trouble, plain and simple. Don't go overboard with a precise list of transgressions and penalities; kids will just find a loophole.

    (A friend of mine once told a class that she did not want to hear another word!!! So a kid started chirping like a bird :) )

    Also, take a look at some posts by another new teacher who is struggling:
    http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=176918

    http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=176097
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Sep 21, 2013

    That's hilarious! It's even funnier to me because I must have his cousin this year...mine barks!
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    I'm teaching grade 7. In Ontario. Same curriculum expectations. Let me know how I can help!
     
  13. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    Sep 21, 2013

    You've gotten some excellent advice, and perhaps I can add a little more insight. I do teach middle school geography.

    With regard to the curriculum, do sit down and look at an entire unit at a time. Think about what you want students to learn from that unit - what is really important - and plan you lessons around that. Looking at an entire unit moves you from a panicked, reactionary mode to one where you have more control.

    Do teach from bell to bell, and give your students a clear view of what is expected. Like Alice, I have certain things that students will see on the board each day. I don't have daily homework, but I do post an agenda so that students know what to do immediately upon entering the room. The class always starts with a warm-up, I post a lesson objective and the major activities for the hour, and there is usually an exit activity. Posting these things helps to keep both them and me on track.

    As to maintaining order, do come up with a short list of rules and stick to it! Do not proceed when they are not listening!! If you stick to this, most students will come around, and peer pressure will help.

    I do have some questions with regard to the snack time as it sound like this is a trouble spot for you. Is snack time necessary? It sounds to me like students aren't following rules about cleaning up after themselves, and a less structured time like this can also be harder to control. Can you eliminate it or make it contingent upon student behavior?
     
  14. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2013

    Now I'm overwhelmed again, but with gratitude. Thanks so much, all of you for your advice and support. Wow.

    Alice, I'm going to go print out what you wrote and use it as a checklist to help me prepare my lessons and routine for this week. It will definitely help with math! Thank you for the taking the time to write such a detailed response. All the advice are so practical and helpful. I'm definitely going to work on my planning.

    Good point about the loopholes! My students are always finding them and I end up arguing with them. I know as teachers we're not supposed to argue with students, but no one in teacher's college ever told me what to do when a student brings up a loophole. I like your idea of the rules a more broad idea such as COR instead of a precise list.

    Thanks for your words encouraging on being new instead of incompetent. I was told repeatedly by the students in my second practicum that I was a great teacher, so I know I have it in me to be one. It's entirely different doing this from scratch on my own without an already existing culture of order and discipline that another teacher put together, on top of trying to become an expert on new curriculum. I'm definitely going to hunker down this weekend and work on it though.


    HistoryVA, you're the first person to tell me to look at my classroom that way. Throughout teacher's college, I was told to help the students feel like it was their classroom so they had a sense of belonging. Let them decorate it and give them lots of choices about how they want things done, etc. I was going to ask them to help me decorate the room, but the first day I saw them, I knew that wouldn't work. They argue with each other everything and push and shove everywhere.

    I think your attitude of "this is the teacher's classroom" is a MUCH better way of looking at it. I wish I had thought of it that way from the beginning. It would helped every time they wrote on their desks or left garbage on the floor.


    MrsC, I am going to pick your brains in the future for curriculum ideas and help! :) It's exhausting trying to come up with new lessons everyday. Any help would be appreciated.


    giraffe326 and geoteacher, I teach in a community that has a large degree of poverty and other social issues. Snack time is a way of making sure the kids get fed. I'm glad they have it, because some kids wouldn't get breakfast otherwise (first snacks tend to be cereal). I'm going to ask another teacher how she does snack time.

    I've been wary of constantly asking other teachers at the beginning because I'm afraid of appearing incompetent and that I can't do this job and it's nerve-wracking asking strangers for help in real life. There is one other new teacher who seems to know how to do everything off the bat, and it just makes me feel like a fool because I'm always going around asking things like how to use the laminator or what door do the kids go out of. I've gotten to know the other teachers more so it's getting easier to help for help.

    I do like both your ideas of looking at the entire unit instead of going lesson by lesson. I'm going to see if I could pull that off with Geography at least this weekend.

    Thanks again!
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    What a huge turnaround!!

    In your first post, you had a list of problems.

    Here we are on page 2, and you have an action plan!

    I have the feeling that those kids in your 2nd practicum were right, and that you're going to be a great teacher!!

    Give yourself some time, some slack, and pick and choose from the advice for the pieces that will work for you.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    7thbynni--what's your first unit in Geography? Coincidentally, that's what I'm planning this weekend as well.
     
  17. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    This is why I should have looked at everything as a unit before like people here suggested. The Unit is on the five themes of Geography: Place and movement, environment and interaction, and regions.

    I already taught place, location, region, and movement, but not together as a coherent unit. I also did a bad job at teaching regions. I think I should re-teach them (especially regions) but in a different way that ties them together, and include environment and interaction.

    The problem was I started off with crappy Geography text book, and if only this past week I found a much better one.

    Oh, and if you have ANY idea for grade 7 language arts, I would *really* appreciate that. It's my Waterloo right now. There's no textbook to follow and the kids don't like writing or reading.

    They do love horror stories and Hallowe'en so I'm hoping I can incorporate that into my Language Art lessons next week.
     
  18. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Thank-you! I didn't think of that as an action plan :) I'm at the school right now working on things. Math and Science for today. Geography and language arts for tomorrow.
     
  19. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 21, 2013

    Can you PM me your email address? I'll fire off a bunch of files to you, if you'd like!
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sep 21, 2013

    I use Randy Sprick's CHAMPs management program. It forces me to think about how I want things to run. And it has visual elements that keep me and the students consistent.

    I do change sometimes, but I explain why I'm making the change. That way everyone knows I've thought it out, and I'm not just being wish washy.

    But they're also middle school. They're not always nice people to you, each other, or themselves. Bless them. They're a mess.

    You'll learn. I'm on year 21. I'm still learning. This year I have kids that make me rethink my competence. I have one that waits for me to draw the line in the sand, then boldly steps across. So frustrating!

    I have a curriculum map and resource lists for 7th grade language arts I can share. We are not textbook bound at all. My curriculum map is based on Kentucky Core Standards, but you might find something.
     
  21. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Sep 21, 2013

    OP, you've come to the right place to get quality advice! As soon as you can, get "Tools For Teaching" by Fred Jones. I received it Tuesday, read most of it by Thursday, and implemented some actions on Friday. "Meaning Business" was my biggest weakness so I practiced the "stare down" with the loosened jaw and it got the class very quiet in a hurry. I'll be working on "helpless hand raisers" next but showing that you mean business will really help you out. Remember that the classroom is YOURS so you are in control. Another piece of advice I got from someone is to stop wondering if you're gonna be liked. Just have them respect you and you'll be awesome! Hang in there! We're here to help!
     
  22. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Sep 21, 2013

    I don't have anything to add to what's already been said on the other subjects... however, you said you have to teach dance. Do you have experience? In what capacity are you expected to teach it?
     
  23. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2013

    Does anyone have a lesson for Grade 8 Human Geography regarding population? I also teach grade 8 Geography (with a rough class that makes my Grade 7 class looks cuddly and adorable *headdesk*)

    The topic are Population distribution and density, population characteristics, human imprints (how people use the earth, resources, land use, etc.), People at work (e.g. industry), and stuff like sustainability in regards to population, and genetically modified food.

    Any lesson plans and assessment tasks or tests related to any of those topics would be greatly appreciated!

    ******

    Ima Teacher - so true about middle schoolers being a mess. Gotta love them. I do. They drive me up a wall (omg, they whine and argue about EVERY LITTLE THING and every time I put down a rule they're dying to break it five seconds later), but they have great spirit and a terrific sense of humour. I have to hand it to them for putting me up with me three weeks. It is frustrating putting up with someone who's inconsistent and unprepared.

    I'll PM you my email address for those Language Arts curriculum. Anything would help right now! LA is a total mess for me right now.


    Pi-R-Squared - I ordered the "Tools for Teaching" from Amazon, along with Harry Wong's First Days of School and Something about a Softie becoming a disciplinarian (which is exactly what I need right now.) Thanks for the rec. I need anything that help give me a sense of authority.

    That's really good advice about wanting to be liked. It's hard. I'm always worried what other people think and afraid of turning into those teachers that students hate. I'm learning to care about that less and just work on being fair.


    MikeTeachesMath - I have no experience in dance except some Zumba classes. I can send you the dance expectations when I have the time. It's mostly stuff like "using dance terminology, get the students to express emotions through movement". There is no textbook and I don't know which dance terminology they expect me to use. The plan right now is to go to youtube and figure out the Zumba moves for Thriller and teach that to the kids.

    ****

    Well, I got detailed math lessons plan for up to Thursday and behaviour/consequence chart for my class. I didn't get to my science lesson plan, but they're doing an assessment task this week. I got the example, rubric, and instruction sheet done for that. The lesson plan is a review for it that shouldn't take me too long to work on tomorrow.

    Considering I spent most of the last Saturday lying around in shellshock, this is this Saturday is an improvement.

    Now to keep this momentum going for tomorrow (augh, language arts, why? >_<), and to work on being consistent with my rules and consequences.
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    7thbynni--Are you familiar with www.linktolearning?

    I'll get some of those things I promised to you within the next couple of hours.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Being consistent is tough. One, because you've got to remember what you said and, two, because sometimes you get a form of amnesia..."his behavior wasn't really THAT bad."

    But this is great training for parenthood. You've got to think before you react (so you don't over react-- that's where that behavior/ consequence chart comes in.) And you've got to try very hard to react quickly and consistently. Middle schoolers in particular are very big on "Fair." They'll do fine with a tough teacher as long as the "good kid" who breaks a rule gets the same punishment they do.

    It sounds as though you put your Saturday to very good use.

    Hang in there. After a while, the whole authority thing becomes much easier. And when that happens, you can put more effort into creating the lessons YOU want to teach in the way YOU really want to teach them. And you'll enjoy your classes so much more, and they'll enjoy you.

    The best lesson in the world is wasted if the behavior prevents the kids from hearing it.
     
  26. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Hi again, I thought I'd throw my thoughts in on top of the pile of advice you have. One previous poster mentioned having a short list of rules and sticking to them. I am currently trying to do this (and struggling), but I've seen some benefit from it. For instance, I told the kids that they must be quiet when I am talking. If I hear anyone talking, even whispering a word when I am talking, I stop in the middle of my sentence and stare at the offenders. That has actually worked in my toughest class! (There are still a million other issues to work on, but hey, its a start).

    My school has a Code of Cooperation that is hung in all classrooms. I can refer to it, or to my short list of rules, when kids are violating the agreements. I also had them and their parents sign off on the syllabus at the beginning of the year, and I made sure to lay out EVERYTHING I could think of in terms of behavior in writing.

    Good luck, and I hope to hear more from you in the forums! Don't be shy about offering ideas to other posters in areas that you might have strengths.
     
  27. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I've never taught middle school, but one rule I've used in the past is: Keep Mrs. Kp happy. It covered everything that wasn't spelled out that (keep hands to self etc). I usually used it for those manner type of things much like Alice's COR.

    Work on that teacher look. I use it all the time, the middle schoolers in the hallway, my own high schooler, my hubby. It works in a variety of situations.
     
  28. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Yes, send me the dance standards when you get a chance.

    Take it from me, a long-time dancer and part-time dance teacher... dancing can be dangerous if you have improper technique. I'll gladly help you get some lessons planned that are both easy for the students to follow and appropriate for you to teach based on your abilities.

    I'm not sure how formal the dance standards are there, but Zumba definitely doesn't qualify one to teach classical dance technique :lol:.

    I'm curious, though... how did you end up with this class if you have no dance experience?
     
  29. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2013

    It's Sunday and the reality of going back to classroom where I left a huge mess and lost any trust and respect I might have had is hitting me hard.

    Right now I have no credibility with these students. I haven't proved that they could trust what I'm saying, and if I ever do enforce the rules, they'll only believe it's just a phase.

    I really made a huge mistake not being consistent these past few weeks. It's going to take a lot of time and hard work before anyone, including myself, believes I'm trustworthy enough to be so. I'm not giving up, but it's going to rough and I have a feeling it's going to be worse before it gets better.

    The thing I'm worried about right now is, if I start being consistent tomorrow and enforce rules and consequences, A LOT of students are going to get detentions. The whole class, most likely. Especially when it comes to the rule of raising hands and not talking when I'm giving a lesson. One of the reasons why I've never been consistent on that rule is because I didn't want to write twelve names down on the detention board four times a day.

    I'll have to do it for there to be any credibility to that rule, but I know the students will be angry with me for that when I let them get away with it for weeks, and I do think they have a point. It is unfair of me to discipline them for that after letting it go for so long. I feel like I'm punishing the kids for my inconsistency and incompetent at classroom management.

    Is this one of those "right things to do in the end", or am I being unfair again?


    ****

    MrsC - nope, never heard of linktolearning. Thanks for the link! I'll definitely check it out.

    Alicecc - You hit the nail on the head when you said having to remember what I said. With overwhelming trying to figure out how the classroom works, it's hard to remember what I said even ten minutes ago. The students don't forget though. It'll definitely be easier when I'm better at being authoritative.

    Myrisophilist - You're doing pretty well if you could the get the kids to stop talking but staring at them! In my class, I have on average about seven or eight kids talking about the same time, even after I tell them to stop, and staring at them doesn't work. The times I only have a couple and stop to stare at them, a few others will take that opportunity that I stopped talking to *start* talking and then more of them talk.

    I feel so helpless and at loss to do when that happens.
     
  30. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Who cares what they'll believe? Stay consistent, keep doling out consequences and they'll catch on that it's not a phase. That trust thing is big though. If you threaten a consequence, you MUST follow through. Empty threats will lose any credibility.

    If you tell them to quiet down and they don't, up the ante. Walk directly in front the student, use their name and tell them to be quiet. If someone else starts, repeat. Be firm and authoritative. If they continue, give them consequences. Call home, give detention, assign extra work, whatever works within your school. You might have to spend a large portion of your time going over this, but it'll help you in the long run. Don't let them talk over you at all.

    Most of all, relax! It's your room; you're in control. Stop worrying about whether or not they're "angry" or what they believe. Your job is to help them learn and grow, not be their buddy. You are capable of doing this. You're the adult, they're children. It's time to remind them (and yourself) that. They will thank you for this in the end (probably never out loud though :p).
     
  31. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    OK, in your shoes, here's what I would do:

    Go in tomorrow and be totally honest. Tell them that you've spent a good part of the weekend thinking about your classes, and about what needs to happen in order for them to better function. And you've come up with new rules and a new determination to make them succeed.

    Then outline your plan-- COR or whatever else you've come up with. Tell them that it starts NOW. And that violations will be dealt wtih. That it simply isn't fair that some kids get to deny others of the chance to learn. That you KNOW they know what to do, because you know they're behaving for other teachers. And that, starting now, they'll behave for you.

    Take a seating chart and cover it in a plastic page protector. Get a sharpie and underline the name of any kid who will be staying for teacher's detention tomorrow afternoon. It takes no time and you can put the list up on the projector at the end of the period...or leave it up as you speak and let them see who is staying after. And nail the very first kid who breaks a rule. And the second.

    Talk to administration before school starts and let them know what you've come up with.

    You're only 3 weeks in. You won't be the first-- or the last-- teacher who went into a classroom after a few weeks and announced a paradigm shift.
     
  32. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2013

    HistoryVA and Alicecc - You guys rocks. I needed to read that.

    Going to work on more planning for the week and what I'm going to say tomorrow morning to the students to let them know I'm in charge.
     
  33. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    OK, by now planning should be all done, and you should be enjoying a glass of wine.

    Remember, it's YOUR classroom.

    Good luck tomorrow!!! Let us know how things go.
     
  34. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Sep 23, 2013

    I'm very eager to find out how things went today!!! :thumb:
     
  35. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2013

    Well, I think the students have declared war on me. The more I stood my ground, they worse they misbehaved. Add on the usual howling (literally), arguing, and telling me I was making things worse by adding time to the detention as the day went on.

    The room is a total mess because I said no throwing things so they ended up throwing whatever they could in second period. The more names on the detention I put on for throwing things, the more projectiles went through the room. And the detention times next to the name just got longer.

    Those who I could catch throwing things I told them to pick those things off the floor. The ones I missed, I'm still trying to figure out how to handle who picks those up. I'll get there :)

    It's weird, I don't feel de-moralized or like a failure like I did for the last three weeks, even though I got next to nothing done in the afternoon because they refused to settle down and did everything they could to push my buttons.

    One, I realized I wasn't being unfair. I'm using the same rules and consequences that I used all year. They know what both the rules and consequences are. Sure, I tweaked the consequences back and forth a lot, but at its core, it's been a warning followed by 5 minutes detention, adding on 5 more minutes for each subsequent offense.
    So even if I've been inconsistent in the past with enforcing, they know what they are, and I'm totally being fair in nailing them for breaking them.

    Secondly, turns out I'm not really shifting any paradigm. Yes, a lot of the class got detention today (you should have seen that list), and I sent A LOT of people to time out, but I had my share of having detentions where more than half the class was held in for the second week.

    So while I have been inconsistent in enforcing the rules in the past, I haven't set up a classroom where discipline was totally void. The students don't have an excuse for their misbehavior; I am not doing anything out of blue.

    I was really lax at the beginning of last week, because the students were fairly well behaved (for this group) and I was getting tired of keeping more than half the class in for recess all the time. But give them an inch and they explode everywhere.

    They're really angry with me right now, and I foresee a week of backlash, attitude, graffitti and things flying everywhere, but I'm determined to hold my ground. I think if I do, they'll realize I'm not going to budge, and hopefully by Halloween, they'll calm down.

    It wasn't totally bad today. Math was great. They liked my zombie invasion lesson for exponents. If I hadn't insist on people not talking when I was giving a lesson, it would have gone better, but I was determined not to let them get away with sidetalking and chatting when I was talking.

    In the past, I overlooked stuff like that because they were enjoying a lesson and I'm trying to build some leverage with them. Unfortunately, I found that letting things like that slide just ends up with them acting like wild animals and then howling about my inconsistency and unfairness when I try to bring order back.

    Man, middle schoolers. They whine when I'm not consistent, and then when I am, they throw a fit and want to bring me down.

    If anyone thinks I could be doing anything better, please let me know! I'm not feeling desperate or at the end of my rope anymore, but I would like to know if there's any potential issues with how I'm handling things or if there's anything I could be doing better.

    Other good news, all my planning this weekend meant I didn't fumble at the board, and I'm not as stressed out this evening!
     
  36. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Sep 23, 2013

    AWESOME job! Did the kids all stay for their detentions? You did exactly what you had to. Tomorrow, they'll probably be even worse to see if you've backed down. Keep on keeping on and they'll get tired of testing you.

    Is detention the most you can give them? Because I have to be honest, if a kid threw something at me in MY room, I'd have them taken out by security in a heartbeat. What's your next level of discipline?

    Great job! I'm so glad you feel more in control!
     
  37. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Sep 23, 2013

    You should have had them clean up their mess..learn some responsibilty even if they didn't learn anything academic today.

    I do hope things get better. I'm really rooting for you. I had one particularly aggressive class in my second year. When my back was turned after giving a stern lecture, I had markers, paper balls thrown at me. But I stood my ground. You just can't let them get to you.

    It's tough teaching more than one subject plus trying to stay on top of the management, but I kmow you can do it.
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 23, 2013

    It sounds as though THEY had a rough day. But you sound as though you're proud of yourself... as though they learned a lot.

    I agree-- tomorrow you can probably expect to go in armed for battle. Don't back down. The good kids will quietly stop misbehaving.

    Just one word of caution: be sure that your tone doesn't sound vindictive. That you make it clear that you're using your power because it's necessary to create a positive learning enviornment, and not just because you're the one with the power.

    If you can find a way to stop by a game this week-- football, soccer, whatever, even for 15 minutes, it will go a long way towards helping you establish some good will.

    Congratulations. It sounds as though you had a day you can be proud of.
     
  39. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2013

    Thanks for the all the encouragement! I'm feeling better than I have in a long time. It really helps knowing there's other teachers out rooting for me :)

    Tomorrow is definitely going to be atrocious. I'm going to stand my ground and not panic if very little learning gets done.

    HistoryAV, no, one of the students bolted out of the door when it was detention time. The teacher who taught these kids last year told me she doubled the detention time for those who did that, so I'm going to start doing that now.

    Luckily, the kids weren't throwing anything at me. There were eraser pieces and pieces of paper at each other and on the floor. It's more the state of the floor than anything. There's also no security at the school. I could send them to the principal's office, but I'm trying to avoid sending the kids to the principal's office because the principal is quick to suspend students for anything, which in my opinion, makes things worse.

    I was thinking the next level of discipline is giving a list to their coach and gym teacher and have them taken off extracurriculars, but I've done that before and it hasn't changed behaviours (plus one time I went to give a list to the gym teacher and he told me he already kicked most of them off for evening baseball that day for misbehaving in gym class) Any suggestions?


    Milsey - I'm thinking next detention, I'm getting the kids clean up the room. My problem with getting them to clean is the constant, "but it isn't my mess!" When I tell them that if it's in their desk area, they're responsible for cleaning it, they'll shove it to another place. I do need to think of something for that, because the room is a constant mess and I pick up after them (after school when they don't see me) more than I should.

    Alicecc - That's a good point about not sounding vindictive! I could definitely make things worse by doing that. Taking time out for fun is a great idea too. I'm hoping to do some Zumba tomorrow, and teach them high jump for DPA on Wednesday.

    Miketeachesmath - I don't think the curriculum expects me to teach classical dance. It's part of the art strand. I'm terrible with art so I manage to pawn off music and visual art to another teacher (in exchange that I'll teach his class social studies). He said he wasn't comfortable with dance and drama, though, so I'm taking those. In Ontario, teachers in elementary can be expected to teach stuff they have no background in. My associate teacher in my second practicum has no dance, gym, or music background. She had to teach herself how to play the recorder, figure out the rules of basketball, and learn how to choreograph a dance.
     
  40. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2013

    How did yesterday go?

    Oh, and can you tell me more about your Zombie Invasion lesson on exponents?? It sounds like something my kids would love!

    Oh, and one more thing: if things flying around the room, leaving a mess, is a problem:

    I would ask maintaninence NOT to clean the floor. Let them live in their own mess for a few days if adminstration will allow it. It's not the fault of maintainence that these kids are playing this particular game. And, since the weather is starting to change, you might want to mention that critters coming in from the fields love messy places.

    It's not unheard of in my school to issue "cleanup" as a detention. But I wouldn't allow the behavior of my class to make more work for someone who is already working hard enough. It's maintainence's job to clean the normal remnants of a teaching day, not to pick up after kids who are misbehaving.
     
  41. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Sep 25, 2013

    Yesterday was strange. Half my class ended up not showing up, and they were the ones who give me the most trouble. I only have my class for the morning on Tuesdays (I teach grade 8 Geography in the afternoon). They spent the first part at gym. Then they had dance with me. It was my first time teaching dance so everything was chaotic so I didn't really have any rules to enforce. Then they had recess, and all that exercise must have tired them out because they were too exhausted to throw things, sidetalk, and misbehave for Math.

    I guess the solution is to lose half the class and physically exhaust the rest.

    Today I had most of my class back and things went flying and the chatting-when-I'm-talking continued, but it wasn't anywhere as hostile as on Monday. I had my share of disrespectful taunts and comments, which I gave detentions for, but the normally more well-behaved kids had calmed down, and the more boisterous ones weren't as ticked off as I thought they would be. They egged me for giving them detentions on far less than I thought they would.

    I still need to do something about the throwing. I'm thinking of banning any paper that's not the handouts I give them and erasers (they could learn to scratch things out if they can't use erasers for their intended purpose) until they go at least a week without throwing things. And I'm thinking of making the person who I catch throw take a broom and clean the floors.

    I need to check the administrators about the last one. I hope they say yes because I think it's a great idea.

    I'm choosing my battles for now. They take FOREVER to get their books out and get started on their work, and they take FOREVER to line up, but right now, I'm just concentrating on the the throwing and the chatting during lessons.

    Things are still so very far away from orderly and there's still a lot of behaviour issues, but the students do seem to have calmed down. I have been having fun with them and feeling more relaxed so that may be part of the reasons why some of them are calmer. I'm not going to let my guard down though. Part of me thinks they're trying to lull me into a sense of false security *laughs*

    I'd be happy to send you the powerpoint slide and the handout I made for my zombie invasion lesson! I made a story that started with there being 3 zombies on day 1. On day 2 each bit three people and turned them into zombies, so we now have 9 new zombies. On day 3, those 9 zombies each bit 3 people so we now have 27 new zombies.

    I gave them a chart to fill out for each day up until Day 10 of the Zombie Invasion. I said in terms of zombie invasions, the base is how many people each zombie bit, the exponent was for which day of the invasion we were in, and the product was how many new zombies we got that day.
     

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