Getting really angry at students

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by miss-m, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Hi all. I need some tips/advice.
    I have a couple boys in my class who have been on my EVERY LAST NERVE this week, to the point that I've unfortunately lost my temper at them both a couple times this week. I don't normally get mad easily, but these two boys have me red-hot, face-flushed ANGRY for some reason, just because they WILL NOT DO THEIR WORK.

    They ignore all directions, they ignore redirections and all warnings, and then they have the nerve to throw a fit when I follow through on consequences.
    I'm at my wit's end and I hate that they're getting me so riled up, because it's just feeding their determination to not do what I ask, but they're driving me nuts! I've taken recess, I've sent them to buddy rooms, they've missed specials... nothing. It's the exact same thing the next day. And the next. And the next.

    I can't take it anymore. What do I do?? How do I a) stop getting so pissed off about them not working, and b) get them to do anything?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What were the consequences that caused them to throw fits?
     
  4. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    I asked them to move to the safe seat or buddy room until their work was finished.
    With these two especially, they just don't work unless I'm constantly on top of them; but they can do it if they just sit down and try. Once they GET to the safe seat or buddy room they can get the work done, but they get mad when I tell them to go. Both have told me they don't do their work because they just don't want to, so I have a behavior plan I ned to implement starting on Monday that they can earn ipad time for doing their work (or complete unfinished work at recess, if they choose not to do it). I just hate the idea of rewarding students for something that's a normal expectation of school.
     
  5. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Keep them as far apart as you can. The behavior plan sounds like a good idea. As annoying as it is to reward expected behavior, if it gets the improvement you're seeking it's worth it.
     
  7. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    It just bothers me. Like... I don't get rewarded for showing up to work and doing my job, but I sure as heck won't get away with NOT doing that. I just feel like it creates this sense of entitlement with kids. I already have kids ask for points on class dojo or for our school wide "currency" for things like walking quietly in the hall or following directions the first time I ask. I don't see that as ok; life doesn't work that way.
    I know I just need to address a missing skill in these boys; but the idea of rewarding behaviors that are mandatory for functioning in society just doesn't sit right with me.
     
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  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    What did the parents say?
    I often feel "if this is how the kid is, it's probably pointless to call the parent", but then we often get very pleasant surprises. Kids (and here I'm actually talking older, tougher kids) who act like they're all that and nothing bothers them, actually respect their parents and are ashamed when we're sitting in a parent meeting. And the behavior often very quickly turns around.
     
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  9. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    The parent of one child acknowledges that he's like that but nothing has changed in the several conversations I've had with her. He was doing really well before winter break so I don't know why he's gone back to behaviors he knows will get him into trouble.
    I have yet to meet the mother of the other child; grandma knows, but nothing changed after I talked to her about it. She sees the same anger issues at home - he does what he wants and gets mad when his choices get him in trouble. His family situation is bizarre and confusing - his uncle is also in 2nd grade, sister is in 3rd, there are MULTIPLE stories about where dad is, and I've never met mom.
     
  10. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I don't love reward systems either, but it helps to think about behaviour like anything else we teach at school. I will do whatever I can to help a student learn a math concept - and not every student needs the same approach. Some can watch me model the concept and they are good to go, some need manipulatives, some want to do worksheet after worksheet, some need additional practice sent home, others need to talk about it with a friend. My job is to figure out how each student can be successful in math. Same goes for behaviour. Some students just need me to tell them the rules and they are good to go, others need some practice time, a few more need their parents to get involved and some just need rewards.
     
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  11. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I have a child like that and it really frustrates me too.

    I try my best to motivate this student, and I do enact consequences, but they don't seem to have much of an effect. There's nothing you can do to make a child do something. With my particular student, I basically let them sit there while doing nothing and then give them a failing grade on the assignment (after other things have been tried, like redirection and asking if they need help).

    You might also try sending home an email stating, "Johnny did not complete __ in class. It is coming home with him tonight and can be returned when it is finished for __% credit." If parents are supportive, it may provide that extra boost that's needed.

    Now, if the student is downright disruptive, that's a whole other issue. My student who refuses to work doesn't really get in the way of others' learning. If the student is making it so that other students can't learn, that's a more immediate issue.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  12. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I try to remember that I can't control what a student does. If a student is really set on doing poorly in the class and never doing their work, then I have to let them fail. I don't see it as my responsibility to force a student to succeed if they're going to make every effort not to. And letting them fail sometimes helps them to learn from their mistakes.

    I always meditate a bit before class and tell myself that I will not let anything any students do get under my skin today. I will be calm and composed no matter what. I imagine myself holding students to the consequences and rules of the classroom without getting angry and staying very matter of fact (I even sometimes imagine a student blowing up or cursing me out and me still staying very calm and just repeating my directions until they are followed or calmly calling up the office to have the kid removed), and when I do this practice, I generally have a good day.

    Try to avoid ever seeming angry to your students. It just shows them that they have power over your emotions, and them being kids who like to push buttons and see what happens, will of course push more buttons to see what happens.
     
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  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    With respect to a difference in opinion, because yes, it does produce results, I would not recommend the extra reward. It is a temporary fix for the situation, and I agree with your opinion, it is teaching the wrong thing. It is especially teaching them that they are special, but not in a good way, either; they are less than a person than the rest of the class who do not need a reward. And the rest of the students (and they will find out about it) are learning that they are too cooperative for extra rewards.

    Something is hindering the students from completing their work and they are countering their situation with defiance. This something could be physical, something within their brain structure, something emotional, whatever; not necessarily a strong will. Popular books on child psychology automatically diagnose this as "a strong willed child", but I'm not sure that is always the case, and in reality, a "strong will" when channeled in the right direction is an asset not a detriment. These somethings could be totally different for each child, although it's possible that because they have become outcasts in the classroom expectation of work completion, they could be reinforcing each other.

    I would recommend individual discussions with each student, either you or the counselor, but preferably with your involvement since you are the one dealing with the situation. I'd avoid preaching, but listening. If it were me, I'd first apologize for my temper, and honestly explain that I'm not perfect, I might even lose my temper again, but I'll try not to. I'd listen to the student and encourage him to talk by not using questions that begin with why; instead, I'd use phrases like, you didn't finish the assignment because...." I'd also sometimes repeat what the child said to encourage further development of the thought. Child: I didn't want to do the work. Teacher: You didn't want to do the work because.... Child: It's boring. Teacher: It's boring? Child: Yeah. Teacher: It's boring because.... etc.

    Mel Levine suggests that rarely are students not completing work due to defiance or laziness. Possible causes could be visual, fine motor, focusing differences, or one clue I see in your parental descriptions, the one boy could just be stressed from his family situation (A Mind at a Time. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2002, The Myth of Laziness. N.Y.: Simon& Schuster, 2003). Another possibility, multiple factors could be working together to hinder work completion.

    Mel Levine also suggests that indications that the child can complete the work if he tries is often deceptive. The teacher is viewing the evidence from a classroom perspective, but the student is experiencing the situation from a more realistic perspective. Some differences in ability/behavior could result in work completion after a different seating or procedure due to neurological functions such as locale memory, increased blood flow, increased dopamine, etc.

    I would recommend that the students be refocused on a more permanent reward, (and this is tough to produce, to be sure), the reward of learning. Focusing on grades puts grades as the main push for completion of work, and Renee Caine suggests that grades can cause a student to deemphasize the process of learning. Once the grade is achieved, the supposedly learned material is pushed aside because it was not in the permanent memory to begin with. The goal should be to learn, and grades are just an evaluation, a tool to indicate if they need to learn more or relearn. All students have inborn curiosity to learn, but not all students have inborn goals to get grades, especially if something is hindering that process.
     
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  14. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I am not sure about the reward system. Are these students classified? What grade are they in? Have you referred them for evaluation? Have they been through RTI? They sound like they could have ED/BD issues, but that is not a label one wants to give without a lot of other considerations.

    I am assuming that OP is not well versed with this learning disability? It is trying, just let me say that. Good luck.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    A few other ideas, some that have already been mentioned.

    It's entirely possible that these boys are partially behaving this way because you get angry like this. Some kids think it's fun to push others' buttons.

    Also, consider a reward in reverse. Are you able to offer a free recess or free class time to play with games, playdough, tablets, or puzzles at the end of the day or week? Say that every student who gets their work completed will be able to participate. Those who do not complete their work will sit at a back table or sit aside during the free recess to finish it.
     
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  17. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    This is 2nd grade. Neither has an IEP or anything - I've tried rewards systems with one of the boys before and it works for about 2 days, then he's right back to doing whatever he wants.

    I need to put them up for our student improvement team, but the process has gotten so slow and I have other kids who have academic issues that are more pressing.

    If they were quiet while they refused to work it would be fine, but they end up distracting everyone else. I'm going to try a checklist format (checking whether they did their work in each subject or not), and they can earn iPad time during our independent reading at the end of the day. I just don't have a lot of hope that it's going to change anything, which I think may undermine it from the get-go. :/
     
  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    What about genuine appreciation for good behavior rather than "rewards"?
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    It takes some serious work and effort to get to the point where there is genuine appreciation for good behavior. I was just talking to fellow teachers today that I now write as many or more positive write-ups than negative ones requiring consequences. I am here to tell you that it takes buy in and the participation of most of the students to get to this point. I work with a difficult population, but I am starting to see some behaviors that approach normal on a routine basis. I am working with HS, so a little different, and most of my students are not first time residents. I don't use Ipads as rewards in my classroom because past experience has shown me that soon the students are calling the shots about how much and when they will work, meanwhile raising a ruckus when their irrational demands aren't met. I weaned my students off of them and they aren't welcome in my room because of the turmoil they created. I believe that my genuine love of my content area, my appreciation and bragging on their good work and behavior, and buy in has gotten me to a point that I am happy to live at. There are bad days, and that comes with the territory, but the good days are so much better. Many of my students have behavior contracts, and most of what motivates them is not an Ipad, but special time with a favorite teacher, some choice in how they do their work, and those positives that I write up. I do know that I have mastered the broken record way of delivering instructions, over and over, without letting anger get in my way. That was all on me - there are two sides to every story, after all.
     
  20. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Build a relationship with each one - they might need to see that you're there to back them up when they've been wronged. This may take a long time. I have one kid who is not liked by anybody in my school maybe besides me and I've had him for 2 and half years at this point. He drove me nuts but he saw that I was there to back him up when he was wronged and that I would call him out on his bs when he tried to pull something. That kind of fair attention really got him to trust me, so now if I ask him to knock something off, he will.
     
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  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I'm actually surprised how rare this is in teaching. I had such a relationship during my second year in teaching, and to a lesser degree in my 4th year, where you feel like you really made a difference in a student's life that nobody could see the good in. But some/most years I don't have that at all. I just find that interesting.
     
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  22. MathGuy82

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    I had to get after a few students today. I kind of got mad too! So don't feel bad! Seemed like they wanted to do work in other classes rather than math and fought me on my directions to work on the assignment and take notes. I think Feb/March can be a tough time to teach like October. Two few breaks, students are checking out, recovering from the flu. April always seems better for some reason after spring break.
     
  23. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    I agree too! I get tired of the phones, I-phones, I have to make a call, I have to text so and so. I like how you weaned them off. Looks that's what I'm going to have to do because students aren't following my directions.
     
  24. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Something I've tried to do, personally, I've come to view anger as a normal, positive emotional response. It alerts me that a situation is occurring that makes me feel uncomfortable. How I deal with that feeling is what's important. Anger begins in the lower brain, but dealing with the anger shifts to the upper, more logical brain. I heard a lecture from a psychologist who described this lower brain reaction as a pushing out response, such as venting out verbally, physically kicking a nearby object, pounding a fist on a desk, etc. When the upper brain first evaluates the stimulus, it might determine that the stimulus needs to be ignored. It often determines that the person causing the stimulus needs more assistance than I do at that moment. It often evaluates the importance of patience. It might determine that a self-protective reaction is necessary. (Note: I'm thinking of all areas of life, not just teaching situations). The upper brain determines the best response, and usually a calm, corrective, and productive response is best. The trick is, how to always shift to that upper brain.

    I find that a "fire drill" works best for me. I literally, (when I'm alone so no one thinks I've flipped my lid), pretend to be in situations that could potentially cause me to fly off the handle. I practice working through the situations. So for teaching, I literally play school, imagine stuff happening that might get my goat, and I practice responding appropriately. I also find that taking time to sit and relax a few minutes and practice calming myself keeps my "calm down button" active, ready for action as needed.
     
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  25. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Teachers have so much on their plate during a normal school day - we interact with so many different people (faculty, parents, students, visitors) and have a long list of things to do that we can be hard pressed to find the time to stop and connect on a personal level with our students. I know I'm usually thinking about each step of my lesson, of the emails I need to send that day, the projects I have to work on, and the paper work I have to fill out.

    When a kid acts out, a teacher may just want the problem to be over with. Move on, too many things to do.

    As a side note... one of my students, who I've taught his 2 older siblings, was pulled from his classes yesterday. Found out that there may be issues with drinking (he's 11), parental issues with drinking are present, and he may be suicidal. Parents didn't want to be bothered from their jobs to come pick him up - he had to sit in the principal's office for half the school day since he couldn't be left alone. I adore this kid - but I knew something was up (other family stuff) and I just haven't had a moment to sit with him to talk about it because I have big projects going on, report cards, a ton of sick kids out and needing to be caught up, etc etc etc. I came home yesterday, got into pjs, and had a really long cry.
     
  26. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sometimes anger isn't normal, though. Sometimes it is an outward manifestation of agitation, and agitation can be a symptom of depression. Just throwing this into the mix because it is true for me.
     
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  27. MrsMarie

    MrsMarie Rookie

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    I agree with Obadiah. I really think there is something else going on in the lives of these two boys and that the kicking off has more to do with getting attention than it is about being disrespectful or bad.

    The child is only 2nd Grade. That is still young. If they are not getting the proper attention and help at home, they really can`t just do it at home.

    A session with the counsellor and you discussing what is REALLY going on is important.

    I had a child in my first year that was not getting homework done. After a lot of fussing and temper tantrums over incomplete homework, it came out that dad worked late, mom was an alcoholic and he was basically looking after his baby brother when he got home!

    To help with your own anger, I try to reverse react. The louder they get the lower I get, the more they react, the less I react. Thus, I give attention to good behaviour and reactions and less to bad ones.

    Good luck.
     
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  28. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I try to do this too. It really does help.
     
  29. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I don't blame you, and have a lot of sympathy, but keep in mind it's a little different from their perspective -- they had no choice about coming to school, about who their teacher would be, or about what they would study. The right comparison isn't a job that you get paid for and can quit at any time. The reason kids compare school to slavery or prison is because it's a much closer analogue.

    There are, of course, many ways in which school is not prison, or slavery, but it can be hard for a kid to really internalize those.

    Imagine if a principal announced he would be in your class all day every day except for times he put random other people in that role, would monitor your behavior and point out whatever you were doing wrong to all the other teachers, that instead of being paid your needs would be paid for (essentially, communism), that you would have no influence on what subjects you taught, and told that you couldn't quit.

    Maybe thinking that will help control your own anger.
     

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