First grade girls making my class impossible.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Sarge, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    13 years, never had this problem.

    I've had a lot of behavior issues over the years. However, until this year, when I told a child to go to time out, they went. When I asked them to leave and go to another classroom, they went. If they had a toy and were playing with it during a lesson, they would give me the toy when I asked.

    Sure, some were getting consequences so often that it became clear they weren't working and other methods became necessary lest they spend their entire first grade year in time out or the buddy classroom. I've had students who literally needed to be redirected every two minutes. Never had a problem with that. I've had students from whom I took so many toys that I needed to get a bigger June box and the last day of school was like Christmas when they got all their stuff back.

    This year, however, I have a class with 13 girls and 8 boys. Of the 13 girls, two are downright defiant to the extreme. Depending on their mood, they will literally disrupt the class willfully to the point that I need to ask them to leave.

    For example, one likes to get up from the carpet in the middle of the lesson and walk around the room grabbing things, making noise, climbing on stuff etc. Then, I ask her to stop and she literally says no. I then tell her that she needs to leave and go to one of the buddy classrooms (5th or 8th grade). She refuses to leave and continues to disrupt the class. I've lost count of how many times I've had to stop teaching in order to call the office and have her removed.

    Another one will engage in very similar behavior and also refuse to leave or comply with any consequence. But she will also have very extreme meltdowns when she does not get her way. Moreover, if I try positive reinforcement, and she is not rewarded due to her behavior, she will often resort to very disruptive meltdowns. And by "meltdowns" I mean screaming so loud, I cannot teach.

    To complicate matters, these two girls are off and on "frenemies" and will constantly bicker, talk across the room to each other, and will sometimes come to blows.

    With both children, I am in constant contact with their parents, who are fully supportive and as confounded as I am with regard to their behavior.

    Then there are the rest of the girls. I've never had such a passive-aggressive group. They will often ignore me and take advantage of the fact that I am preoccupied with the other two girls behavior. Recently, I've tried cracking down on their behavior independent of the two most difficult girls in the class, with limited success.

    For example, one will leave her seat to follow another girl I've allowed to leave to use the restroom. I will call her name three times and she will not respond. Unfortunately, I often have to resort to yelling at these girls in order to get their attention.

    So what do do you do what a first grader is out and out defiant?
     
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  3. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I might add that neither girls are on an IEP nor would they ever qualify. The one with the meltdowns is the highest student in the class. The other one is repeating first grade. The majority of my "passive-aggressives" are ELL students who speak very good English.

    And please don't say "document everything." My admin is also very supportive, but also at a loss as to what to do. And even if I did want to document everything, I'd need a full time secretary to do the typing.
     
  4. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Is there some way to reward the rest of the class for following directions while ignoring those misbehaving? When we could reward with candy, I used to give Jolly Ranchers. Now, I have to use something on the approved list, which is too expensive for me, or use our school reward system, which is similar to awarding points. Still works most of the time.

    ETA: I forgot about stickers! That worked well when I taught Kindergarten.
     
  5. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Do they behave this way at home? Maybe they need a surprise visit from mom and dad. We've done that before with our 6th graders. Dad snuck in during a lesson. The student was disruptive for about half the period until Dad had enough and quietly whispered to his son that they'd be having a long talk at home.

    Another time, a mom was sitting in the student's desk when he walked into the room. That was about all it took. She popped up two or three more times during the year, (always with teacher's permission.)
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My gut feeling with this is that nothing will change in either of these two girls unless somebody, most likely either an administrator or a parent, puts the fear of god into them. There's no good way to suggest this to a parent, but it sounds like they each need a good spanking.
     
  7. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Is there any way that one of the girls could be moved to another class? Sounds like they are bad news as a team. Maybe separation would clip their wings a little bit?
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Maybe I missed it, but did you call home?
     
  9. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    At what point do we take a look at the perspective of the other 19 students and their parent's feelings in regards to their child missing out on a quality education due to 2 defiant children?
     
  10. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    No advice Sarge ...... but I do think you need your pay doubled. During my brief five year subbing career I may have subbed for a first grade class twice. It was like herding cats. Happy Hour started the minute I got home........
     
  11. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Does your school have RTI for behavior? Is your counselor any help?
     
  12. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    Ugh.

    I think moving one of the girls to another classroom is the best move. Since they are besties they are probably feeding off of each other's behavior.

    If not, would admin let you test it out for a week? I'm betting behavior would improve after a short while.
     
  13. Ash Inc

    Ash Inc Rookie

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    I'm also curious about the student's behaviours when they are at home. You mentioned that the parents are also confused about their behaviour; does that mean they aren't a handful like this at home?

    If they are only acting up at school, then I think the parents could potentially be a big player in turning things around. If they only behave like this at school, then I tend to believe that it is purely a choice on their part, since they obviously know how to behave outside of school. They don't seem to be phased by consequences that you can issue at school, but maybe they would change their tune if there were consistent consequences at home? The parents would really have to step up and be firm about it, but if the child knows that if they misbehave at school they will loose their favourite toy or not go to their friends house or whatnot, maybe that will be a motivator?

    I remember last year a boy (also grade 1) began to get worse and worse with his behaviours at school. He would get issued consequences (miss recess, lose out on class rewards, etc) but it didn't change his behaviours. Once the parents realized how bad it was getting at school they came down on him big time, and started taking away privileges every time he acted up in class. He only got them back when he had a "green" day (stop light system). He still wasn't an angel, but the improvement was incredible. At home support can be a life saver sometimes.

    On the other hand, if they also misbehave outside of school, then it may be more of a challenge. I wonder if maybe there's deeper underlying issues that haven't been identified yet?

    I know how unbearable these situations can be, and it's not fair to you or the other students in the class. I hope you find something that works!
     
  14. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Do you have anyone at the school or in the district who could come in to give a social skills lesson? That happens sometimes around here - the SLP will come around and give a social skills lesson to supplement the ones provided by the classroom teacher
     
  15. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I also probably don't have helpful advice, but I dealt with a girl like that a few years ago-I empathize, no one really understands until it happens to them. Everyone would tell me to give her a choice-but she would choose neither option and just be totally defiant. How do you make a 6-year old go to their seat? What worked for her was the constantly catching her doing the right thing and praising her-"Mary, thank you for coming to the carpet when I asked you to" which I know sounds ridiculous, but for her it worked. It sounds like you have tried the positive reinforcement thing though.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Is there a way to have them removed from every fun lesson you do? I.e have them moved to a different classroom to work on boring independent work while the rest of the class works on a fun science activity, games, and art lessons? Make it clear to them that they can only be a part of the classroom if they behave? With such drastic behavior I would try kicking them out automatically until they could prove without a don't that they won't cause disruptions.
     
  17. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    The Defiant One responds to a similar strategy involving Dojo points. Mind you, her mom monitors her Class Dojo at work all day and emails me when she loses points. I think I might try it with a more tangible reward.

    We have no counselor. We have RTI for behavior (PBIS). The problem with PBIS is that it is really geared toward older students who understand the concept that rewards are the result of actions and behaviors.

    The both misbehave outside of school. The Defiant One's mom has told me that she behaves both at home and at baseball practice just as I've described her behavior in the classroom. The Wanderer is apparently infamous for her behavior around her apartment complex.

    My concern is that they would not leave and when they returned they would be more destructive than before.
     
  18. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Sarge, you didn't address my post. Which leads me to believe that it is NOT an option to move one of the troublesome duo to another classroom. Which is too bad...seems like it would work, to separate the two. If you could.
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The problem with moving one of the two to another class, especially this late in the year, is that it would topple the dynamics of both classrooms and could possibly make things worse for the student who is moved.
     
  20. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    The Wanderer's step sister is in one of the other first grades. The other two have over 20 kids.

    I'm completely golden in the eyes The Defiant One's parents, which is a good thing. Actually, both families are first to admit that their children are extremely difficult. They would support just about anything I did that was humane and legal in order to get their children to behave at school. That's the one bright spot in the whole situation and, quite frankly, the biggest reason I love working in the community that I do.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Maybe a "document everything" alternative other than a full-time secretary would be a recording device. It sounds like everyone's supportive so I don't think you need it for self-defense, but it might be helpful to look over and look for anything that triggers the episodes or some such. Or even just as a warning to other teachers.

    There are some legal hurdles you might need to get over to do this (and many, many more legal hurdles if you wanted to show it to anyone).

    Of course, the other possibility is that if they know (or *think* it's being recorded, their behavior might change).
     
  22. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Does your school have a counselor, psychologist or a social worker? Any of them might be able to provide intervention on these.

    I also respectfully disagree about RTI... behavior intervention is still an important component of RTI. If your school does it right, they would definitely qualify based on the concerns you've raised here.
     
  23. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So, in terms of the ultimate noncompliance/insubordination, I would add an element of punishment to the removal by stating that the girl has to "pay back" every minute missed when out of the room later during recess or preferred activity time. This might add an element of aversiveness to the removal, and incentivize compliance with earlier stage directives. I would also make sure that the admin removal is not otherwise pleasing (e.g., soothing conversation with principal).

    In terms of the original behavior, what are the specific triggers for each girl? What are the variables surrounding the incidents?
     
  24. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I have a wanderer this year - he just doesn't follow directions and does what ever he wants. When he doesn't join the group, I set my timer and for every minute he's not with the group he makes up those minutes later - either during recess or free time. He joins the group in a hurry when he sees me grab the timer. It was painful at the beginning, there were definitely melt downs and tears, but it was worth it.
     
  25. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Is there another adult on campus that one or both of them like spending time with? Maybe a pe coach or computer teacher who could pop up once in awhile for surprise reward time if the girl has earned it.
     
  26. 2ndTimeAround

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    Ok, this probably won't sit well with many of our members...but I'm not a touchy-feely kinda person. Especially when it comes to deliberate disobedience.

    So... since there are two of them, how about pitting them against each other a bit? Years ago I remember reading an interview with a mother of quintuplets. She said that life was really hard with five little ones at home but that having five the same age did have its advantages. She said her babies were potty trained in no time at all because she took advantage of their natural competiveness. She plopped all five down on potty chairs and when one accidentally peed she gave him an M&M. The other four wanted one too, of course. When the second one peed and subsequently got an M&M, the other three started catching on.

    Since these girls are frenemies I suspect they are competitive with each other too. I would place them together and wait for the first one to do something "right" and praise the snot out of her. Reward her in some way - but I wouldn't reward her more than I would the already behaving classroom of course. Allow her to return to the classroom activity, earn back some recess time she lost, whatever. Build on the competition to get what you want.
     
  27. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I have a little one who can be defiant, disruptive, furious, and a wanderer this year. He does not sound as bad a the ones you have; but he has no equal participants in the rest of the class. I would be in a pickle if he was matched like your girls are.

    I have started trading any disruptive behavior minute by minute for recess time which has helped. I also found out he was not getting enough sleep and always is hungry so I started scrounging food and I got the parents to put him to sleep earlier and that has helped. His parents are also very supportive. Which does help a lot. I also do a lot of ignoring until there is no way to ignore. How does the rest of the class react to the two girls? Do they think it funny? Do they get peeved? If they think it funny you might work on training them to ignore (not always easy with first graders). If they get peeved have whole class moments when they share how they feel about it while your little delights are there (much easier with first graders). If you have a teacher or staff member who is not tied to a classroom who is good at acting mean as all get out call them in to pick up your girls when the issue gets to that point and skip the principal if the principal or office staff is too nice. A really not fun visit can often work wonders on making them want to stay put and not have to leave. If mom or dad has not come in and observed have them do it-sometimes the level of pain the child is at home seems the same until it is actually seen. If that is the case it might solve it.

    One thing I have found in the times where I have difficult kids is the way I react can make a huge difference. If I come across as indifferent or calm when confronted repeatedly the issues fade, when I come across as angry or frustrated the issues grow. Kind of a zen for when the crazy stuff happens. The children often are looking for a power play and when they have upset the adult it is successful. I also do a lot of oh, wow I am so sorry you made this decision and now I have to help you by (what ever solution I came up with).
     
  28. elleveeaych

    elleveeaych Rookie

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    I know nobody else has brought this up so I could be wrong but I noticed that the one girl is the highest in the class and the other is repeating first grade. I mean this with all respect and you may have already adjusted for this, but is there a possibility that they are somehow bored or need to be involved in the lessons in a more hands on way? Is there a specific job you could give the higher girl during group lessons that the other kids can't do that may make her feel important or more like a leader in a positive way? Or maybe, if they can work together, the higher girl could be a helper to the girl who is repeating a grade? ( I realize that could backfire...but just throwing out ideas). Maybe give them each jobs that keep them busy during down time and that you monitor with class dojo or a similar system?
     

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