Having a hard time...

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Fxgirl22, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Fxgirl22

    Fxgirl22 Rookie

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    Apr 7, 2017

    Hi all! I'm going to try and make this as short and sweet as possible. Thanks in advance to anyone who offers advice. I just graduated in January and I was hired in February at a private school in a pretty affluent area. The school is considered a progressive school and I work in a combined class of 3rd and 4th graders. I was hired as a co-teacher and I work with the head teacher of the class who has been there since September. He is a great person, but he and I are extremely different. For starters, the class is LOUD. The students are constantly chatting, and loudly. As I had stated, it is a progressive school and very student centered. There are no individual desks, only group desks so students are free to sit wherever they want whenever they want and don't really have any designated spots. Along with being loud, the classroom is very unstructured. The students misbehave often, and there is no classroom management system or consequence for misbehavior at all. They kind of just get told to "cut it out." This is something I am not used to and I'm struggling with working in this kind of environment. I am extremely structured (not only as a teacher but in all aspects of my life) and I believe in logical consequences. My head teacher kind of just says, "Well, they're old enough, they know how to behave." And he has even said, "I'd rather my students view me as their cool babysitter rather than their teacher." When my head teacher is out for the day for whatever reason (personal day, sickness) and I'm in charge, I feel like the bad guy. I am constantly trying to get them to quiet down because I refuse to talk over anyone. Directions need to be given multiple times because they just do not listen. I don't raise my voice, but I do speak firmly to let them know that I am not happy. For the most part, they respond well... but today was a disaster. I have only been employed there since February so I am very new. Should I even bother to try and instill some structure or will they just view me as mean since it's not something they are used to? I am only a co-teacher, so I do not want to disrespect my head teacher by any means. Should I just go with his flow and do things as he does?
     
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  3. Expo Markers

    Expo Markers Rookie

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    Apr 7, 2017

    So, the head teacher has no classroom management system/techniques in place at all?

    I think you may want to talk to him about what he expects. Suggest a class contract, those align with progressive education. Make it a collaborative exercise, and maybe get some hand signals or something in there. I can't believe that he hasn't heard anything from admin about the noise level of his room or the misbehavior if it's really getting out of hand.

    More communication never hurt anyone. I'd try to get an idea of what he expects and why he does things the way he does. That may help with making a collective solution that works for all of you.
     
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  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 7, 2017

    I'm sorry, this is a bad situation. I couldn't work in these conditions. There isn't a whole lot you can do since it's not your classroom and you're the one who came later. I would start looking for another job, and when the interviewer asks why you left, you can definitely say it wasn't a good fit.
     
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  5. Fxgirl22

    Fxgirl22 Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2017


    No, there really isn't. They did sign a class contract at the beginning of the year though and it's hanging up in the classroom. Other than that... there's really nothing. When I interviewed for the position, I had asked him what is his style of classroom management and he said that he'd never have any kind of behavior chart with their names up in the classroom (which is fine, I'm not really for or against them). And that's when he said, "they're third and fourth graders.. they know how to behave." Which I think is true, but they're making choices to not behave... and there's no consequence for that. I like your idea of hand signals. Thanks for your input.
     
  6. Fxgirl22

    Fxgirl22 Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2017

    It's becoming more and more difficult to work there. Along with their behavior, I don't believe the classroom itself is conducive to learning. It's extremely small, way too small for 3rd and 4th graders in my opinion, and always messy. I always try and clean up as much as I can and get the kids to clean up, but the size of the classroom is obviously out of our control. I currently am searching for positions for September. Thanks for your response.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 8, 2017

    I guess if there is a positive outcome to this uncomfortable job is that you have learned many things that you will not incorporate into your next teaching position.
     
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  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 8, 2017

    3rd and 4th graders don't know how to behave. There are lots of high schoolers who still don't know how to behave. Any teacher who assumes that these kids are grown ups and know what to do, not to do, and are there to eagerly learn and know how to behave are lying to themselves and are probably horrible classroom managers.

    OP, you are learning a lot about what not to do, so in a way this is good experience, you just need to make it through the end of the year. You can see what happens if you don't have specific rules and expectations in place, what happens if they're not enforced and if there are no consequences: it is a chaos, and it's probably hard for the kids to learn.

    A student centered classroom can have flexible seating, and sit in groups, and have them discuss and complete most of their work together and work on many projects. But the noise level should be low, the discussions must be on topic and at any time you call for their attention, they should know how to react. In case of direct teaching, they should be able to sit still and pay attention, read, take notes, write or whatever for a lengthy amount of time (whatever is appropriate for their grade level). There should be no disrespect, no battles, and there should be an overall great atmosphere.
    What your teacher has is a classroom out of control.
     
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  9. Fxgirl22

    Fxgirl22 Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2017


    Linguist, thanks so much for all of your input. I love hearing and receiving advice from seasoned teachers. It is out of control. I am trying my best to push through until June. I agree that a progressive and student centered environment can work if done correctly. There is another class that is 10x worse than mine. I go in there for math with my fourth graders only. The students are constantly screaming, joking, and mocking the teacher. And the poor students who are on task and doing what they are supposed to be doing have even said out loud, "I can't learn in here!" It's chaos. I knew that this could not possibly be the norm.

    My question now is... should I even try to instill some type of structure or are they too far gone? And do I even have the right? I'm only a co-teacher.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You're welcome.

    Well, believe it or not, kids, even at young ages have a really good sense of knowing what they can do with whom. For example, even a 2 year old, who is learning to talk, if he has a dad that always talks English to him, and a mom who always talks Spanish, the kid knows what language to use with whom, and he's very young.

    So, the good news is, you can teach the kids that when you speak they have to be quiet and listen, when you call their attention, they have to stop what they're doing, and whatever it is you tell them, they have to respect it.
    The bad news is, it would have been a lot easier to teach from the beginning, right now it might be late or can be very hard. What makes it harder, is that your teacher might not like it, might see it as stepping on his toes, disrespecting him, so he might make it more difficult.
    Is he in the class with you all the time? Do you have your own time with the kids? There should be only one person in charge at a time, so if you're with the kids, the other teacher should be sitting in the back, working on other things, maybe working with a kid one on one, or even leave the classroom. In that case you can try it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
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  11. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Apr 9, 2017

    Progressive classroom is one thing, but students of all ages need to know boundaries and without classroom management, there really isn't much learning going on. We aren't their cool babysitter, we are professionals who are there to educate. Classroom management and behaviour management facilitates that. It's impossible to try to have classroom management on the days when the head teacher is away, it needs to be more consistent for it to work. It's a good learning curve though, because you are forming opinions on what you would like your own classroom to look like and what you wouldn't like it to be. Id personally stick it out for a few months because then you can honestly say you have given it a shot and as a new teacher, it would look better in your resume to have a few months under your belt.
     
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  12. Fxgirl22

    Fxgirl22 Rookie

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    Thanks so much for your input. When my HT mentioned the "cool babysitter" comment, I was shocked. A few weeks ago my HT was out and I tried to run things as I would if I were the HT. I gave them logical consequences (you get two warnings, the third will be a consequence). I also knew I'd have a hard time with getting their attention so I taught them a call and response (me: class class! students: yes yes!) Overall it was a good day. But the next day once my HT came back I obviously could not continue with my management style since he does not follow it and like you said, it needs to be consistent. So the other day he was out again. I thought to myself, "okay, let me just do as my HT does and see how it goes." And it was a disaster. I just can't work under those conditions and I'm confused as to what I should do when it's just me in charge. (Linguist, I have taken your suggestions into consideration, thanks so much!)

    I am going to try and stick it out until June. This class had their original co-teacher leave mid year which is why I ended up getting the job in the first place. Although this position isn't a good fit, I'd feel guilty leaving them after they've already been through so much change. Thanks again!
     

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