Frustrated

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by trtls329, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. trtls329

    trtls329 Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2012

    I am a 4th-year teacher but this is my first year at this school. I teach 8th grade. I have had so many issues this year with constant talking while I am teaching. I have heard a few times from different teachers that the behavior isn't bad but "they're a little chatty". I feel like this has become acceptable to so many teachers! At my old school, this wasn't a major issue, but I have yet to figure out what will work with middle school kids. We have very few consequences from above, which makes discipline even more difficult. Until this year, I have felt like my classroom management is pretty good. How can I improve what I'm doing for the next semester???
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Dec 13, 2012

    Sometimes I wait my kids out. I tell they "Oh- you're choosing extra homework today!" What we don't get done, they take home. I usually only have to threaten and they stop chatting.
     
  4. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 14, 2012

    Teaching my kids a signal when I want their attention has been helpful. I say Give Me 5 (1- eyes on me, 2- no talking, 3- whole body still and facing me, 4- everything out of your hands, 5- listening), and expect them to be quiet by the end of it. If they are not quiet, I go through it again. I'm sure there are lots of other signals you can use.

    In my experience, upping the ante on punishment does not work, and can often make things worse. Be honest with them and tell them you teach better, which means they will learn more, if you can speak to them without being interrupted. If they don't know why they should care if they learn more, give them a list of reasons your subject is important and review it with them.

    Hope that's helpful, good luck.
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Dec 15, 2012

    I taught 7th grade for awhile, and I agree the talking can be a challenge. I think you'll find these 2 things can help a lot.

    1. Buy the book Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. You can order it online and have the ideas go when you return from winter break.

    2. Focus on 3 things and you can will see things improve.

    A) Make sure you have a signal to get their attention and every time they follow it or don't follow it--something should happen. I find giving a group point or a class point towards some reward is helpful. Be willing to give a small consequence if they choose not to give you your full attention.

    B) Make sure all voices are quiet when you are talking/teaching. What to do if they don't is outlined in Fred Jones' book.

    C) Handle problems as privately as possible. If you call a student out about misbehavior privately, the student is not able to get his/her peers involved and one-on-one makes it much easier to stop the problem.

    I find if I have these 3 things, I can always teach. If not, well... it is a long day! Good luck to you.
     
  6. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 15, 2012

    The only point I disagree on with Readingrules about is the point about rewards and consequences. I found using those to get silence can be ineffective. All you need is the one kid who says, "But I don't care if you give us 5 minutes free time/ 5 minutes detention", etc. and then you can have a real problem on your hands. Do you up the reward/punishment, and then negotiate with them about their learning? No matter what you do, you've put yourself in a bad position.

    That's why I highly recommend focusing on building internal reasons to behave and learn. Try to get the kids to see why your subject is important to them. As I said before, I recommend giving them a list of reasons your subject is important, and discuss it with them. Go over the reasons periodically.

    I found that using external controls on behavior taught me a harsh lesson about the laws of diminishing returns, while focusing on internal rewards has more enduring effects and hopefully gives the kids somethint to hang onto after they leave my class- that English is important to them for the reasons I helped them identify. Of course (and this disclaimer should at least implicitly accompany any bit of teaching advice), what works/doesn't work in my class, might/might not work in yours.
     
  7. PolarBear

    PolarBear Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2012

    This just happened to me the other day. Student stood up and questioned the necessity of being quiet in a Study Hall, which was obviously a waste of everyone's time. Without thinking, I walked up to the student and said, in a loud(er) voice, "Important life-lesson for you here. Bark at the Big Dogs and you're gonna get bit." A few kiddo's laughed, student sat down, and the rest of the period went without incident. (sometimes I surprise myself :whistle:).

    That being said, I have learned from this forum to hold off on any negative reinforcement (e.g. detentions) until the end of class. I hand them out, and tell the student I'll talk with them privately if they have any questions. It's been a very effective strategy.
     
  8. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 15, 2012

    Yep. It's always possible a student (or students) may attempt to sabotage any method, pro or con, a teacher tries to implement. Part of TFT or more specifically, Omission Training, impedes a student's attempt to ruin the program for the rest of the class and put the teacher in a position of abandoning the method. It essentially says to the student, If you don't care about five minutes you don't have to worry about it or be part of it. You will deal with me personally regarding a special program I'm thinking about which we will discuss after class. For now, I expect you to not interrupt others so they can get their work done.

    Jones included OT as part of Responsibility Training as he observed the same problem you noted and many teachers encounter - the student who seems to not care about relationship and digs heels in - "I don't care!"
     
  9. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 16, 2012

    But can't you avoid this problem all together if you don't use external controls, be they rewards or punishments, to encourage good behavior? And by focusing on internal reasons for behaving well, won't you be doing the kids a greater service? If the kid is only behaving well to get the reward/avoid the punishment, aren't they missing the point?
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 16, 2012


    This is the part where I still need help. a lot of kids I'm dealing with don't really care about education, or the actual subject being taught. There are several reasons:
    1. negative attitude due to previous failures
    2. already missed so much school, and behind on credit, that they don't care about graduating, or school in general
    3. all they care about right now is being part of their gang, taking care of 'business', and nothing else.
    4. a lot of them sell drugs, or engage in other criminal activity that brings in so much money, that they don't see the importance of education for making money

    Of course 3 and 4 are temporary and will probably change their mind later (hopefully), and I try to help them see that now, but it only works for now, meaning they will do the work, or cooperate, but they still don't care.

    What can I do about these cases? Honestly, the only thing I have been able to do is to make sure they do not disrupt others and do the work I require everyone to do. So I don't just let them sit there and warm the air, they do participate in class and do the all the work (and a lot of work) but I do know this is mostly so they avoid consequences and possibly get the reward. For me, as a sub this works, but if I was a regular teacher I would obviously want to do more But WHAT? On top of it we don't even have these students for a long time, where I am now, the max. time is about 3 months (although they could stay longer if they act up), but the average stay is 2 months. At the other lock up we have them 4 -12 months, the average is about 7-8 months, so we can do a little more there.

    If I found the answer to this issue, I would be a much more effective / happier teacher.
     
  11. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 16, 2012

    I have not taught at a school like yours Linguist, so I don't have experience dealing with your problem, but maybe it could be something as simple as having them write down how they imagine they'll use your subject outside of school. You can give them a list of the ways your subject's most commonly used to give them some ideas.

    I'm guessing that whatever your subject is, there are everyday uses that apply to everyone, so make sure you have some of those uses written down, in case the kids have no idea how they might use your subject.
     
  12. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 16, 2012

    Yes, for those that show up with internalized values like work ethic and excellent social skills. The other group, those that show up believing "work" is a mystical concept and self-discipline is an elective one takes in college, what does the teacher do with them? They will need some kind of external incentive which jump-starts neurons devoted to all those things we value in students which are now in hibernation. Once a motivation technique is implemented and students begin to demonstrate improved work ethic-social skills one can reduce the stimuli over time as students mature and doing a good job becomes the reward. What turns many off about reward-consequences is not that they are innately bad but, more likely, their mismanagement.
     
  13. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 16, 2012

    I haven't taught the kinds of difficult kids I know many of you have taught (though that is what I want to do next), but my experience with using incentives/punishments is that they can do the opposite of jump start those neurons. They prevent kids from finding internal reasons to behave well and work hard. The kids who are immune to incentives/punishments, who are often bright but difficult and strong willed, take pleasure in showing off their indifference to the incentives/punishments and creating problems for the teacher.

    That said, I certainly understand why teachers want to use them, and I have used them myself when I didn't know what else to do. Maybe when I do start teaching those kinds of difficult kids, I'll go back to using them, but I hope not.
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 16, 2012

    If I don't use consequences / reward, what am I supposed to do? I KNOW difficult students won't just realize how good it feels to accomplish something, and just do it. So what am I supposed to do?

    I agree with Loomistrout, it has to be some kind of external control until the internal one kicks in. For some, the internal control will take forever to surface.
     
  15. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Dec 17, 2012

    Again, I'm not in your situation, so feel free to ignore my suggestion, but you could discuss and have them write about why your subject could be important to them.

    I discussed with my students at the very beginning of the year whether kids need rewards to behave well and learn. You get some mixed responses, and some kids did actually say teachers shouldn't give rewards because it cheapens learning (not in those exact words, of course).

    Then I posed them the question, "What if you don't like the reward?" The kids would say then I could change it, find out what they like, etc. Then I said to them that this is why I don't use rewards; that I don't treat learning as a negotiation. I told them I am teaching them what I teach them because it has internal value for them, which I will do everything I can to help them find. The kids have bought in so far at least, to some degree or another. But, like I said, I haven't taught the kinds of difficult kids I know many of you do.
     

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