Frustrated 1st year Kindergarten teacher - PLEASE HELP!

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by kcbutterfly, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Jan 21, 2007

    I know this is really long, but I really need help.

    This is my first year teaching, and I am really frustrated and depressed. No matter what I do, I just can't seem to get my class to behave. I have a stoplight system (green, yellow, orange, and red) where clips are moved for inappropriate behavior. Green is appropriate behavior, yellow is a warning, orange is 5 minutes out of recess, and red is 10 minutes out of recess. Everyday they stay on green, they get a smiley face on their behavior sheet and a sticker on their sticker chart. After 10 stickers (they don't have to be 10 days in a row, just 10 stickers) they get to pick a prize out of the treasure chest. I modified it slightly right before Christmas to give them the chance to be moved back to green if they showed extra good behavior the rest of the day after being moved to yellow.

    I also have started something else after Christmas. I give out tickets for extra good behavior and I pick a ticket at the end of the day. The student whose ticket gets picked gets to take home Chester the Racoon, Clifford, or the Zero the Hero bear for the night. On Friday, all the tickets from the week go in the cup. I pick two and those students get to eat lunch in the room with my parapro and I and I buy them ice cream. I also use table points and lots of verbal praise for appropriate behavior. I also give out "good listener" awards - big sticker - at the end of our reading block since it's soooo long (60 minutes - we're a Reading First school).

    I have 3 boys who disrupt the entire class. I have put them on an individual behavior chart with the day broken into 6 parts since Christmas. They can get a sticker for each part of the day. This has seemed effective at times but not at others. One of the boys is just very disruptive (makes random noises, talking when not appropriate) and does not listen (plays with shoe laces, etc. I have to constantly redirect him. Another boy cannot keep his hands to himself. He probably hit, pinched etc. someone at least 10 times on Friday. I really don't think he does it to be mean or hurt them. He just can't keep his hands to himself. Another has what I call "meltdowns" several times a day. He just throws fits, and it has gotten a lot worse since Christmas. For example, asking him to put his coat in his cubby turns into a "You hate me! I want my mommy! I'm never coming back to school! fit which you can imagine is very disruptive when it happens multiple times a day. These students have been sent to other classrooms, missed recess and center time, had silent lunch, missed classroom parties, etc. Nothing seems effective.

    The rest of my class is ok, but they get loud at times and lately I've felt like I'm pulling teeth to get them to listen to anything I say. I really hate having to be "mean," but I feel like that is the only time they listen to me. Am I just the worse teacher in the world? I really don't know what to do, and I just don't know if I can do this anymore. I'm about to start crying thinking about starting another week tomorrow :( :confused:
     
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  3. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Jan 21, 2007

    You sound like you've put alot of thought into this and are very dedicated to making it work. My question is- how often are the parents notified of behavior? Is it consistant? Do their behavior charts go home every day? When I used this system the kids had to mark what color they earned every day on their calendar plus a red card meant a note home which the parents had to sign and bring back to school the next day. Sometimes getting the parents very involved is helpful for certain kids.
     
  4. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Yes, their behavior charts go home daily. I write what they are moved for if their clip is moved, and the parents sign the behavior charts each week.
     
  5. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Why don't you also see if you can get another teacher to sit in and observe your class during "the worst times". Ask her to give you subjective observations and suggestions as to what changes you can make and also strategies that you presently use that is working.
     
  6. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Jan 21, 2007

    The "worst times" are the "worst times" for all of the Kindergarten classes. Our required 60 minutes of whole group reading instruction (which is very scripted) is tough, and the other Kindergarten teachers are struggling during this time also. I've had positive evaluations from my principal and literacy coach, but I still feel like a complete failure. Maybe getting the perspective of another teacher would help though.
     
  7. Miss_J

    Miss_J Habitué

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Your class sounds like mine.
    I'm interested to see what others suggest.
    One thing that has been working since Christmas for me was what I call stars. When I see someone doing a great job, I give them a die cut star that they write their name on. THey then put their star into a gift bag with a star on it and when I need a helper, I pull a star. THis has also allowed us to have a shorthand term for good behavior, I just say Are you working for a star.
    THis system works for most of my class, not my two troublesome students who sound very similar to yours.
     
  8. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Right! Maybe you are being too hard on yourself. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Have you tried stress ball/small stuffed animal to hold (you can get those ones with a key ring to put on his belt loop) for the student that touches everyone?

    Your "tantrumer" sounds chronic. I ignore mine, move him to the side, reward the other students for following my directions (I use this one a lot), or move the other students away (while praising them for ignoring). If you have a para, you could remove the other students (extra trip to the library, scavenger letter hunt around the school) and just ignore the tantrumer until he is calm and ready to talk.

    I turn off my classroom lights and leave them off and this lets my class know that they are in big trouble. I let them know that I am very upset with their behavior and I tell them to put their heads down because I have to count because I am too upset to talk. I then tell them I will count to 10 and after I do it I tell them that I am still upset, so I will have to count to 10 again(sometimes I may do it a few more) . I then talk about behaviors I have been seeing, review the classroom rules, and I ask each of them what they can do to help themselves have a better day. This takes a long time but I have only had to do it once this year.
     
  9. julimaemac

    julimaemac New Member

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Dear First Year:
     
  10. julimaemac

    julimaemac New Member

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    Dear First Year:
    I know what you are going through. Chin Up! You can do this.
    I am 50 years old with 3 grown children, but have been teaching for only 6 years. First Grade. I know "They" tell you to get things out of your bag of tricks. Close the bag. Children today don't appreciate treasures from the box or sticker. Their parents give them to much for these things to be special. I keep a "Play Ball" area on my board. Students start at the top in the batter's box and if their behavior is inappropriate, they get a strike. Three strikes and they go to the office and I call their parents and report the behavior. They don't want to play ball with the raptor and I have only had to call two parents. Also, "Heads down and lights out works". Keep them in this position until you see that they are relaxed and settled. Don't give in, you are the adult and you are in charge of their learning. No, you are not mean. Children want direction with a lot of hugs with them. And Oh, did I mention Hugs. Give them out like there's no tomorrow. Forget about the touching stuff. Children need to be loved and you might be that shining star that gives them their only hug each day. I have children from all classes that stop every morning to get a hug from me. I love it and they do to. They depend on them. I also put my disruptive student in the hall, or if younger, in an area of the room and they stand and can't move from the spot. They don't sit on the floor or lean on the wall. And they do it. Sometimes they stand for 20 minutes. Don't give in! Cut out the nicey nice and get into being their leader. They will adore you for your work and concern. Trust me on this. Put away the bag and treat them the way your good parents treated you--with a firm loving hand. My husband was prosecuting attorney for 25 years and was a huge child advocate. One day I asked him what was appropriate when touching an "Out of control" child. He said that you can grasp their arm and guide them out of an area or to stop a behavior. You are not hurting them, you are guiding them. Children respond to a firm hand, and a soothing talk afterward. Good Luck, My thoughts are with you. Chin Up!
     
  11. traci

    traci New Member

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Don't give up!

    The first year is always the hardest, don't give up! I have been teaching k in the inner city for 9 years. I have had all sorts of behavior issues with various students. You should find out what each behavior problem student is interested in. Then offer those items as rewards. It could be extra computer time or something from the dollar store. Last year I had a girl who ended up being testsed and placed in the multi-handicap class. She would throw toys across the room, lick the tables, run out of class, cry, etc... It turned out that she loved "girly" things. With her mom's permission I bough a variety of nail polish, glitter, and hair accessories. When she earned the reward it was something she really wanted.
    THis year i am doing stars. On a dry erase board each students name is listed. They get stars for good behavior. At the end of EACH day every star equals 1 m&m. 5 stars equals a bigger piece of candy from the "sponge-bob" box. It is working great as the reward is immediate! Make sure you do lots of hands-on activities throughout the week to keep the kids interested and the structure of reading first wont seem so bad.
     
  12. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I have a carpet square that I place in an area that we will not be using and I put my student who is on time-out on it. I only use it with one student who was always moving his chair or crawling on the ground when on time out. He could walk around his little square but he cannot come of it until we talk about why he is on time out. He could sit or stand but I make sure that he cannot touch anything.
     
  13. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2007

    Sounds like you are doing a good job. I have seen the light system used for "Fun Friday". Two teachers pair up, and have a special fun time in one class and the students that had more than one yellow light or even just one red light don't get to go. Usually the activity relates to what ever lesson they are doing. For example if they are doing letter I, they may have an icecream party, or W make something fun that starts with W.
    The students that don't get to go have to do paper work in the other classroom.
     
  14. shirl

    shirl Rookie

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    Jan 25, 2007

    I am a first year teacher too, and I feel your pain. I am finding the transitions to be the most troublesome. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they are only 5, with different personalities, and have trouble focusing for long periods of time. I look at all the 'great' kinder teachers in my school and they are so nice, and the kids listen and respect them. I wonder if that sort of thing takes time. I think I might be focusing on the 4-5 students that give me trouble, and forgeting about how well behaved the other 19 are.
    I also know how you feel about your questioning your want/love of teaching. Sometimes I leave school in tears wishing I was a an accountant or banker. But I think back to the moments in my day where I had a great lesson, or a child built a museum for me out of playdough, and I remember why i want to do this. I think all of us first years have to rally around eachother, and remember to relax, there is a life outside of school.
     
  15. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jan 25, 2007

    There is? Just kidding. I have a life on the weekends. I don't on the week days. I don't know any one (around my age) that lives with in a half hour to an hour of me.
     
  16. Heart2Heart

    Heart2Heart Rookie

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    Jan 25, 2007

    I'm sorry you are going through such a hard time, but we all have had the same problems at some point and time during our teaching career. I have taught kindergarten for 12 years and I have had some of the same experiences. Trust me, with time and experience you get better and the behaviors will be very minimun.
    Some things that have helped me in the past included:
    1.) Sitting the behavior problem students close to or next to my desk.
    2.) I also use the behavior problem students as class helpers. This
    keeps them busy and out of trouble.
    3.) One thing that has really helped is that I invite my parents to come to class and volunteer at least once before the school year ends. I pretty much insist on it. If a child is a behavior problem, the parent must come in and sit with the child for a few hours in the morning. The principal has agreed to this and it really helps with behavior.
    4.) I also use charts with colors. The kids turn their dots when they misbehave. This really helps with behavior.

    Don't get discouraged. There are many benefits to teaching. Think about summers off with pay and those students lives who you really touch.

    Good Luck! Take Care
    Keep me informed.:angel:
     
  17. SarahnVA

    SarahnVA Rookie

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    Jan 27, 2007

    This is such a great thread. I feel like my first year is going completely opposite as I have hoped and that it is all my fault. My class still does not seem to follow directions and at many times they are downright RUDE. This blows my mind because I am always respectable to them and feel like modeling is the best way to gain respect. I had a studen throughout the first semester that would have huge tantrums throwing stuff around my room and climbing on counters. He was removed from my class and placed in the cooperative class. However, I am still having problems with my class. Another student refuses to follow directions, I have to ask and then count to three usually for him to follow directions. Besides my card system, he has his own behavior chart where he gets to color in turtles. After three are colored in he gets a prize that he has picked. Its been a week now and he still has not colored in three turtles!!! When he doesn't follow directions he is rude. When I ignore him he either screams or runs around the classroom. Where did I go wrong??? I have even had my mentor talk to me about needing control over my class. I love Harry Wong's ideas about having enough procedures in a classroom and there should be no need of discipline. Do you think I need to reteach the entire class my procedures? I'm thinking of doing this the whole week, pretending that it is the first week of school and teaching everthing (how we sit on the carpet, walk in the hall way, treat our friends, etc.) What else should I do? I really want to be here next year and to produce successful students, but I don't see my students going very far if this continues.

    Good luck KC and everyone else. I know how you feel, its hard to want something sooooo bad and for soooo long, then realize that maybe you're just not fit for the job.
     
  18. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Yes, go over procedures and have student model them in class in front of everyone. Give specif praises and say their names. And be consisitent.

    If they argue, just look at them. Don't argue back.

    Hmm, what else? Oh, do you have a puppet? Maybe use a puppet to talk to them. I, at first, thought, that this would be silly and not work, but jeez! I use a cat puppet in the morning and when I say, Callie is waiting for you guys to be quiet, they stop talking right away! Or, if she asks someone to sit correclty, they sit right up. It's insane, but even though she's fake, they still listen to her.

    Oh, and have a stuff animal, or something for the kids to go and talk to when they are feeling mad or frustrated. Instead of you having to listen to it, they let it off on the stuff animal. Just an idea since I'm on the discussion of puppets.
     
  19. oldentired

    oldentired Rookie

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    Jan 28, 2007

    I have been teaching K for 26 years and I can tell you that many discipline issues will fall by the wayside as you get more experience, but I'm kind of curious why no one has mentioned getting help from administration. My negotiated agreement has steps for disruptive behavior - administration has no choice but to get involved and with serious assistance, not just lip service. It sounds like you have tried everything you can, and unfortunately there are kids who just don't respond - maybe it's time for their world to seriously change! Maybe an entire day removed from the classroom, maybe Mom getting a call at work to come and get him. You and your other students are getting inconvenienced to say the least - let some other adults in on the fun! Get your principal, asst. principal, school shrink, whoever you can to get involved here. I guess my underlying message is to you is this: reach out and get help/demand help - anywhere it is available. Your behaving students deserve to be in an environment conducive to learning. Good luck!
     
  20. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Ah yes, I very much agree. I have a student who was extremely distruptive (screaming and crying). I now will send her out to another 5th grade classroom. I told parents it's not fair to the other students who have to endure her tantrums. we had a meeting with the principal, and the SST team. That's what we came up with. So, perhaps do an SST on this student. Get help and ideas on what to do with this child when they distrupt the learning environment.
     
  21. SueHue

    SueHue Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2007

    When you are in the mist of whole group instruction, pick 2 students to be "look outs." Have them sit in chairs facing the rest of the group. While you teach, these look outs have 2 jobs: pay attention to the lesson, and watch the rest of the class to see if they are following your class rules. Try to take breaks in your teaching, maybe every 10-15 minutes. Ask the scouts who they saw following the rules. "I saw Jimmy looking at you while you were reading to us." Offer that student a simple reward. I've seen "caught being good" rewards. One class even competed against another to see which class had the most at the end of the month. You can choose the students who have the hardest time behaving to be the look outs so they can see what the desired behaviors look like. Also, don't worry who has had a turn and who hasn't. If you are picking the same students, tell the students why. If you see someone doing a super job who didn't get an award, choose that person as the next look out.
     
  22. bratpat

    bratpat New Member

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    Jan 28, 2007

    Dear Frustrated,
     
  23. bratpat

    bratpat New Member

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    Dear Frustrated, I understand how you feel. I had a class like this last year. Several students made it most difficult. After reading what you have been doing it is obvious that you have spent a great deal of time trying to change behavior in a positive manner. At this point I think it may be helpful to slow down on all the extrinsic rewards(stickers...)As you probably already have found out the same students are rewarded over and over and very little change has happened with the ones you want to change. I do not give out stickers because after reading many articles on how to reward children it became clear to me that stickers and other extrinsic rewards may not be helpful. Students need to learn at an early age that it is reward enough to do the right thing.

    I do not know if these children have special issues-which will require support from other experts in your school. If they are not special cases I think it is time for some stronger consequences for those being disruptive.

    One thing that has been very helpful for me is having a chair we call the Help Yourself Chair. It is positioned away from the group but not too far so they can still see what is going on. I tell the students that when they are disrupting others or not listening they need to help them self change the behavior and if they do not they need to go to the help yourself chair and think about it. They may throw a fit a first,but stay calm and ask them to go to the chair to think about how they can help themselves. These disruptive children are not taking you seriously or respecting you as a teacher. Before you start this, tell the parents you really need their support in helping their child learn the behaviors needed to be successful in the classroom setting. Be sure to share that their behavior does impact their relationships with their peers(sometimes parents respond more quickly when they think their child friendships are being impacted) then explain the help yourself chair to them. I truly feel you need to become more stern and direct with these children. I also have a large alphabet rug up front. From day one we call it our learning rug and serious learning takes place on the rug. If a child decides to be disruptive, he has to leave the rug and sit on the help yourself chair.
    I just say, it is serious learning time.....no more warnings at this time of the year. Hang in there, find others in the school to help you!!
     
  24. maebowler

    maebowler Comrade

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    Jan 29, 2007

    This sounds like the student I work with as a parapro. He has been labeled EBD. When he is tired and gets upset he cries for mommy or grandma (although not as much grandma). He has done this because of being asked to put he jacket in his locker. I have also heard you hate me when he is in the middle of his meltdowns. We remind him that we like him and that is why we are trying to help him or we like him but not his behave when he makes bad choices. Like I said I am his parapro though, so the teacher doesn't deal with it as much. Is he acting like this at home or daycare? If so, I would do a SST on him right away. It may be more than just throwing fits. Good Luck.
     
  25. firstyearK

    firstyearK New Member

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    Feb 1, 2007

    I know EXACTLY what you're going through. I am a first year K teacher at an inner city charter school. I started off the year with 35 children- MANY are behavior problems...some parents address the issue at home but most of them just blow me off at the end of the day when I try to talk with them about behavior. I have children that have meltdowns if I ask them to sit on the carpet. I have one girl that screams, stomps, cries whenever we are doing something she doesn't like. I have one student that will go over to my desk while we are on the carpet and clear off my desk- will literally take everything off my desk and just throw it around the room. I have one student that steals-first it was out of my purse-now other children's backpacks. Mom told me it was because I am unexperienced and can't control her daughter. I have been through 5 aide's this year (1 got fired, 1 quit, and the others were given different duties throughout the school). I became majorly depressed and had to take some time off to visit my parents. I am one of two teachers left in our K-2 building from the first day of school. I never thought teaching could be this stressful....I'm just waiting for the school year to end!
     
  26. SueHue

    SueHue Comrade

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    Feb 1, 2007

    I feel for you! I don't have as many students, so I don't know how you deal with it. I had a student today who had a temper tantrum similar to what you stated above. He threw all my papers off of my desk (all my assessments were in a binder, and he broke the binder. Tomorrow, report cards are due, and I had to take 3 hours to reorganize everything). He tends to sob when he doesn't get his way, and the sobbing gets worse and worse if you ignore him. He throws chairs, hides under tables, ruins the students' back packs. His life is a mess, and I'm the first person he's ever met that puts boundaries on his life. His mom doesn't deal with him at home and she always gives into his tantrums. She goes and gets a neighbor to deal with him at home. Today was the first time he made me angry. Another student was trying to comfort him (I was on the phone with the office because a student threw up all over my classroom). The tantrum boy socked the other kid IN THE BALLS! (sorry to be so graphic!). The boy had this terrible look of pain on his face. It was so sad. The office person sent the principal over to me, and she sat with him in my class for one whole hour.

    Anyway, I needed to vent! I don't know how to get any real work done in that classroom. My students are so behind because of the trouble makers. No wonder kids from inner cities are always behind in their learning!
     

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