First Year Teacher Needs Your Help :)

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by megawinn, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. megawinn

    megawinn Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2010

    Well, I have survived my first seven weeks of teaching. I'm so grateful to have this job and finally be a part of this wonderful profession. It took me over a year to find this job, so even on challenging days I am happy.

    This past week, however, was very challenging. I feel like classroom management has become a serious issue for some of my classes. The strangest thing is that I feel like half of my classes are doing fairly well and half of my classes are chaotic. During the classes that are well behaved, I feel like a wonderful teacher. I work hard to come up with creative lesson ideas and the students respond by participating and working well together. After the more challenging classes, I feel tired and like a failure. I've been trying to think of how half of my classes could be so different.

    I think that part of the problem is that my student teaching experience was completely different. I taught in a school with a very different demographic and I taught a class of honors ninth graders. Classroom management was very easy and there were very few behavior issues. Now, I'm teaching a tenth grade World Civilization classes. I think that I took the wrong approach as far as classroom management is concerned. I have been treating the class the same way managed my student teaching class. I've been expected the students to act and respond the same way and they just aren't.

    There are three main behavioral issues that I'm having a hard time dealing with. The first is talking during class. I'm not talking about a few students having conversations. Sometimes it feels like all of the students are just talking away when I'm trying to start class. Both of these classes are the last class of the day and right after lunch so it's not that surprising but I feel like it's taking longer and longer to get the class to settle down. I've tried just waiting and staring students down. In the past couple weeks, that's worked great but I feel like the issue its getting worse.

    The second issue is with students yelling out inappropriately. It's not that they are swearing or anything (though sometimes they are). It's more that they are yelling things that don't make sense. In the past week, they've been trying to take control of the class discussion by answering questions with responses that almost make sense to get some attention. They will make a comment that technically has to do with the discussion but clearly doesn't make sense and the class will laugh. This causes even more students to participate in the answering and within seconds it seems, the class is in chaos and I have to struggle to get the discussion back on track.

    Lastly, there is a large number of students getting out of their seats during class work. I feel like I am constantly reminding students to remain seated in their assigned seats.

    Last week, I had a talk with my students and introduced an incentive program. I tried to stay positive and began the discussion by listing the ways they were doing well. Then I talked about the ways they could improve. I talked about having a class "party" on the day of the review. We would play review games and I would bring treats. I also have the students seated in rows and I have started to give points to the best behaved rows. I silently walk over to a part on the side board and mark the points throughout class. Each unit, members of the winning row will receive a full sized candy bar. This has seemed to work really well in some of my classes and only okay in others.

    What are some ways I can regain control of my classes? Are there any tips or suggestions to make these challenging classes a better learning environment? I am starting to feel panicked and frustrated. Any advice would be wonderful and helpful.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Lost Generation

    Lost Generation Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2010

    In order to have good classroom management your classroom needs to have a set of procedures and routines. If this is not established then the students will tend to be hard to handle. Children like when they know what's going on and what's expected of them. They want to succeed and, as a teacher, you have to let them know that you want to see them do well. First, make sure you have an organized classroom. I have noticed that this could make all the difference. Second, maybe you could rearrange their seating. If you move a couple of students around then the talking could possibly stop. If your students are getting out of their seat and yelling then you need to tell them that it’s disrupting the class. Let them know that it's making it hard for their peers and yourself to concentrate. Lastly, you could have more activities or assignments were the students can talk and walk around the classroom. Remember Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and that everyone learns differently. For example, auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc.
     
  4. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2010

    Agreed - more sounds like you need more procedures. Do you have a daily opener/warm-up for them to do as soon as they come in? If not, I strongly suggest doing this. Have them come in, sit down and get to work. I give my kids 5-7 minutes to do it and they are collected and graded at the end of the week. If they come it and start talking, they are asked to try coming in again properly.

    Do you ask them to raise their hands before speaking? If not, try it. Some classes can have discusses appropriately without hand raising. Others will just try to yell over each other.
     
  5. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Oct 9, 2010

    Aaaand, here I am, recommending Whole Brain Teaching again! Go to the site, register, and download the Teaching Terrible Teens book. Lots of ideas that I bet you can use.
     
  6. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Oct 9, 2010

    I am a seventh grade English teacher. Would Whole Brain Teaching work for me since we are in week 8 of the school year?
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Oct 10, 2010

    What have you got to lose? Set your room up with the Scoreboard, practice the strategies, and try it. Seventh graders are naturally squirrely (I used to teach 7th) and may respond to the participatory elements. If nothing else, try the management techniques on your worst offenders. And don't promise too much--Chris Biffle says kids will expend maximum effort for minimal reward. A review party is too far in the future--reward them with three minutes to listen to a song at the end of the period on Friday.
     
  8. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Oct 10, 2010

    Post your rules and the consequences. Put the responsibility on them. Maybe I'm from the "old school," but I don't reward you for what you should be doing anyway. I do reward for behavior that is above and beyond the "norm" for that age. I'm sorry to say, but in most cases the "fresh" teacher has to prove themselves. At my school the "fresh" teacher is considered "fresh meat!" Follow through with the consequences!!
     
  9. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Oct 10, 2010

    You are doing well at analyzing the problems you are experiencing, as well as recognizing what is working in your classes. That in itself is an excellent beginning.

    You do not want the inappropriate yelling out to become a norm in your class. Sit on it right away when it happens. You have incentives, but do you have consequences? You need to make it clear to your classes that you will not allow the yelling out or the getting out of seat behavior, and issue consequences when it happens.

    Keep going with your incentives, but make sure you hold the students accountable for acting out.
     
  10. megawinn

    megawinn Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2010

    Thanks for all the great advice. I'm trying to focus on consequences and following through.

    In the past week, I have moved students who were talking the most. That ended some of the conversations. I am rearranging my seating chart as well.

    Also, last week, I called a few parents. I had warned the students that I would be discussing their behavior with their parents so it shouldn't surprise them. It will be interesting to see how behavior changes next week.

    I have one more question. What are some of the consequences you have found effective? I'm looking for some consequences that are less severe than calling home. I'm not shy about calling home, but it takes time to see the effects.
     
  11. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Oct 10, 2010

    I sometimes move them to a seat in the back away from the other students if they are being repeatedly disruptive. This is just for the class period. If they are really acting out, I'll take them out in the hall for a quick "conference" where we point out what he/she is doing wrong and how he/she can improve behavior. It is working. I am a first-year teacher as well so I feel your pain!
     
  12. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Oct 11, 2010

    If it's just something like talking, I'll ask the talker to stay 30 seconds after the bell, then 1 minute, then some stronger consequence. Usually the 30 seconds is enough to shut them up.
     
  13. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Oct 11, 2010

    When you ask them to stay 30 secs or 1 min after the bell, do they get in trouble when/ if they are late for their next class?

    I have never tried this. I'm not sure if we are allowed to do this or not. I"ll have to check into it.


     
  14. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Oct 12, 2010

    I have a "Think and Regroup" table where students have to complete a Think about it sheet. Sorta like a time out. Imwhen a student has crossed the line I just either hand them a clipboard or point. They know they are one step from leaving my classroom or making a call home. I don't call home as it takes from class or my time - I have the students call and ask a parent to come to school. Only takes one at the BOY to challenge me and the word gets around. To tell the truth, the word gets around quickly and now, our fourth year as a campus, I have a reputation for order and respect. I'm also old school, no rewards for expected behavior.

    If students are talking, I stop. I will not compete with 8th graders. If we don't get to complete a lab because of delays, oh well, sorry. My method has the students monitoring themselves and their peers. Of course, they want to be in labs so I do offer something they want.
     
  15. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Oct 12, 2010

    We have 7 minute passing periods. If I walk quickly, I can make it from the very back of the school to the very front in 5 minutes. They can do it in 6 for sure.
     
  16. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Oct 13, 2010

    One thing that people often overlook is the reteaching part. While you may have your procedures in place at the beginning of the year, as the year progresses it's easy to relax. Never assume that they got it becasue you told them once . . . or twice . . . or 30 times.

    Once you start overlooking some little something, you lose control. The first day you allow one student to call out. The next day you allow a student to ge up during instructional time. Another day you allow a student to go back to a locker for something. A month down the road you've lost control of your room, and you don't know where it went wrong.

    Make your procedures, and let your expectations be known--often! Someone messes up? Reteach the procedure. Same thing tomorrow? Reteach the procedure. Consistency will help both you and the students stay on track. If you're inconsistent--even one little bit--the kids will pick up on that. They'll decide that you don't relly mean what you say, and they'll constantly be pushing the boundaries to see what they can get by with that day.
     
  17. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Oct 14, 2010

    Since I'm new, I'm constantly focusing on the curriculum and teaching that it's a struggle to stick with my procedures. I do though. I am laid back and they pick up on that. I have been told I have good classroom management though. I am currently taking a non-credit Classroom Management class where we will develop our own plan to implement. I'm glad I'm taking this class.
     

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