I can't take it anymore- anyone have similar experiences or advice?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by giraffe326, Oct 2, 2014.

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  1. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I don't teach. And I'm sick of it. I monitor behavior. I'm nearing a break down point, and we are only 23 days into the school year. :down:


    Background:
    These kids are bad. There are about 6 kids who set the rest of the grade level off. There are another 10-15 who are not angels and would be considered difficult in a normal classroom. The rest are completely manageable. (66 split between two classes.) I keep getting told that they are better this year than they were last year. I can't imagine it. One of their teachers ended up having a stroke last year.

    My P avoids dealing with them. Our district used to be K-2, 3-8, 9-12. They went to K-6 and 7-12 last year, closing a building. My P used to be at the K-2 school. She's even said to me she was so happy to send them to 3rd grade. She got them back last year and doesn't seem to happy about it.
    We have a Dean who does behavior. He seems to play favorites- some get away with everything. He is friends with one of my worst kid's parents, so they get away with murder. In the last 5 school days, I've had 5 different kids suspended, all for 2-3 days. In my 7 previous years, I've only had a suspended kid once. One child is on their third suspension of the year!! Two more are on their second.




    Problem:

    My kids have a really hard time with math. I can't work in groups or even answer a question 1:1 with a kid. If I take my eye off of the class for a second, it erupts. Today, I'm trying to help a kid. I was speaking with them for less than 60 seconds, and 6 kids are out of their seats all the way across the classroom and one of them is chasing someone with a tack they found in the hallway. Tack child was sent out and is suspended (he was trying to poke their eye!).

    I feel so terrible for my students because I can't sit and work with them. If I watch them (by watch, I mean stare), they at least stay in their seats. They may be bothering people around them, but they are sitting in their seats.

    After the tack child was sent out, a few minutes later I began to try and help someone- again a half dozen kids are now wandering the room. They know what is expected of them. I even typed up every routine, procedure and rule and went over it. I quizzed them on it and they all did well. They know what to do, but they refuse to do it. If I ask any of them to model behavior, they do it. But they don't do it any other time. We have repeated things over and over and over and over. They can do it when we practice. When it is time to do it, they fall apart.

    It is not fair to my kids who try so hard every day to be in this environment. I feel terrible, but I can't help them. I finally told them that they'll have to try their best for the last 10 minutes of class, because I had to monitor the class. It is coming down to safety and order vs. teaching and helping. Safety has to be the choice. I don't know what else to do with them. I have no power- I can't take away recess or do any kind of punishment. It has to come from the dean.

    I've read Teaching with Love and Logic three times over my career, brushing up on it this year. These strategies work for a small handful- none of my problem kids.

    I ask admin for help and they ignore me. When I ask in person, they say "they are better this year." I don't care if they are better! They are still terrible!!

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I can't take anymore of this.
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 2, 2014

    In-class phone calls home? Time-out seats? This seems tough. I think the best thing they need is hard fast consequences that really hit them where it hurts and to let them know you're serious. But I don't really have much advice here. Best wishes though.
     
  4. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    My advice is to leave. Some work environments are toxic. and cannot be fixed not matter despite one's best intentions.It's obvious you care. But oftentimes that, sadly, isn't enough. A job is not worth risking one's mental health over (imo).

    as the previous poster said, best wishes going forward no matter what you choose/decide to do.
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    How many "good" kids do you have? How many good colleagues do you have? If your colleagues, even in different grade levels, understand your plight, beg help from them.

    If I could arrange it (and I wouldn't ask permission first) I would spend this weekend making packets for my good kids. I'd write recipes for solving math problems (step one, write the first number like this, step two, write the second number like this, etc.). Give a worked through example for every type of problem you have. Heck, make up simple busy work if needed. Then send the good kids out to other classes and have them work alone on the packets for a couple of days. During that time, while you have the bad and the terrible students, crack down hard on every.single.thing they do. Establish routines and expectations. Drill and kill and then bore them to death with mundane work. Make them copy examples from the book. Make them copy them again. Make the work so boring and horrible that they actually appreciate what you were trying to do for them before.

    I'd also start jotting down each and every time they distract me from another student. For every minute (and partial minutes count as wholes) they would owe me two. During lunch or after school. I'd call the parents and tell them what is going on, focusing on the behavior's impact on their learning and how this will affect their ability to understand what they need for the next grade.

    Ill tell ya, students that act up like this and don't learn basic math and reading drop out as soon as they turn 16 in my area. I don't think any parent, no matter how little help they offer, really wants that for her child.
     
  6. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    can you have a parent shadow the child? we will sometimes ask a parent to spend a day with the child to see how he/she behaves and to reinforce how they should behave. I never have done it, but have seriously talked to the kid about it happening and it seemed to work somewhat. then again, i teach 7th grade so I really do not know what works for younger kids.

    can you tag team with other teachers meaning you call home then 5 minutes later another teacher calls home, then another? I will sometimes have a serious talk with the kids and explain how they are not allowing learning to take place and that it will hurt them when they become older and even next year.

    again, i dont know what works in younger grades but those are some things i try :/ I am sorry you are going through this :(
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I like the idea of sending the good kids out as a reward...and make it clearly known that it is a reward.

    Then you go to bootcamp with the rest. They sit on the floor and aren't even allowed a chair until they earn it. They sit facing the wall and can't even look at anything but the wall. They get a pencil, a piece of paper, and a dictionary. They copy a dictionary for as long as it takes to behave. Make a big deal out of the first student who earns their chair. Then they have to earn a desk.

    Since the dean refuses to deal with the children, you will have to close your door and deal with them yourself. I know you don't want to leave another job, so being really mean to the misbehaving ones may have to be the route you take.
     
  8. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    We have ONE phone for teacher's use. In the teacher's lounge. My planning is during other teacher's lunch, so phone calls in general are difficult. 90-95% of parents have email. I've been sending immediate emails with a few.
    I'm using Class Dojo and about 1/2 of the parents have registered and are checking it.
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I left a bad job last year 6 weeks into the year. At a charter where I was at-will. I'm not at-will here, since it is public. I know my career won't survive quitting mid-year again. We get thousands of applicants per position in my area, so you can't be too picky. I spoke to a P I worked for who used to be a P in this district. He didn't have experience with this group though.

    I'm told the 5th and 4th graders are great once I survive this year. It is just this group.

    I will be looking for a new job next year regardless.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I have 15 or so 'excellent' kids. About 15 more 'really good' kids. A few more 'usually good' kids. It is truly almost a 50/50 thing.

    I'm not sure if my colleagues would take on kids to help out. We all have 32-35 in each class. (Ridiculous!)
    I know I've mentioned separating them into a good class and a bad class with my co-teacher. That way only half of my day is terrible instead of the whole thing. I think I'll bring it up to her and see if maybe we can present it to admin for a trial run.
    The parents of the good kids are getting frustrated. Over the last few years, more and more good kids have been pulled. I can't blame their parents one bit. I would not leave my child with these kids.
     
  11. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I like the idea of bombarding them with phone calls from different people.
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Good idea. Maybe I'll talk to my co-teacher. We could have one room for good kids and one for bad. Maybe a movie and popcorn for the good kids and what you've described for the bad. Then we could swap every 30 minutes or so.
     
  13. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    My suggestion is positive reinforcement. It may sound a bit primary, but have some kind of chart where you give points (for your kids, I'd do it on an individual basis). Have an amount they need to earn daily to qualify for a prize (cute erasers or fuzzy pencils etc, kids that age do get excited about fun supplies)--what I've done is tell the kids they need to earn, say, 5 points daily to get a star for the day. On Friday, if they have enough stars (I tell them at least 4 so even if they have one bad day they don't totally blow it) they get a prize. This has worked very well with some tough upper elementary classes. You just need to be consistent. For example, every so often you can say "I am looking for 5 students who have their pencils out and are ready to begin their work" and then award points etc. You may have to start small and give points fairly often. I've used it in some classes just to start off the lesson. I tell the kids I am counting down from 10 and whoever is in their seat sitting quietly will get a point. Once they have their points they know they have to "keep" them--I can cross one off if necessary and then they need to earn them back. (And, yes, stick to your guns...don't give a prize at the end of the week if they haven't earned it! You can't let yourself feel bad and give it anyway when they KNOW they don't deserve it.) In my experience (and I did teach for a couple of years in a tough inner city school) you get more mileage out of positive reinforcement than negative consequences.
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    To add- I started using Class Dojo two weeks ago. I have improvement with a few kids, but none of my severe kids.

    My best sanity method at the moment is to sign up for any and every workshop they'll allow me to go to. I will be out for 4 days for sure so far. I'm also hoping and praying for epic snowfall. I want a winter as bad or worse than last winter's. This will mean more snow days. I want state of emergency snow. So then we don't have to make it up. (Sorry to fellow MI teachers, and possibly ON and OH teachers that will be affected by my wish!)
     
  15. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    We are a PBIS school. They earn school bucks which are traded in for prizes. At this point, I am giving everyone who is at least 50% on Class Dojo a school buck every day. If they are at 100%, they get two. I also hand out school bucks randomly when I catch them being good.
    One of my most difficult kids came back off of a two day suspension. She was the best I've ever noticed her. I praised her, rewarded her, and made a positive phone call home. I sent them off to gym and she came back as her old self. :(
     
  16. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    I have done this in addition to PBIS (which I personally have not found to be particularly effective....). It sounds like you have some very tough kids who need that immediate gratification--a prize they can earn fairly easily and on a consistent basis. (For one tough inner city class, I did prizes on a daily basis which made a huge difference. Even so, that year was pure torture....I can definitely empathize with you....)

    ETA: I didn't mean my previous post to come across as smug or self-righteous or judgmental in any way...when I mentioned positive reinforcement I just meant something tangible...didn't mean to imply you are only employing negative consequences.
     
  17. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
     
  18. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I do not suggest this. I, also, teach difficult kids and our teachers (especially our new ones) love to call home whenever a child does something wrong. With some of our kids, some teachers are calling home practically everyday. I'm not saying the child does not deserve the phone calls, but many parents get burnt out from hearing from us so often and they stop picking up the phone if they recognize the number. They might also become hostile.

    OP, I think daily rewards are your best bet just so you can keep your sanity (and your paycheck). Our students love to eat (candy, chips and sunflower seeds are their favorite) ... I would hate to say bribe them, but I also know what it is like to teach in a school with difficult kids, no Admin support and no school-wide consequences. Everything becomes about your daily survival.

    Everyone at my school closes their door and it is just sink or swim on your own until the bell rings ... then we open our doors and pray that every teacher is still standing.
     
  19. ECE ABC

    ECE ABC Comrade

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    I don't blame you for wishing all that, I would as well and I did last year actually cuz it was one heck of a year.

    We did get the horrible winter and I was out for training (PMT & CPR/First Aid) since Paras can sign up for them. Also, my mom had surgery so I was out for days (used family sick time) when that happened, plus I took all 5 of my personal days gave myself long weekends when I needed it---------------and of course the never ending FIVE MONTH snow storm and let me tell you that helped a great deal!

    We had snow days weekly and it reallllllly made it easier on me and a few others who had it tough as well..the paras had a ''prayer circle'' for snow days at lunch time daily:p:lol:
     
  20. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I disagree with the idea that you shouldn't call parents because they might get tired of hearing from the school. Maybe if they did their jobs at home they wouldn't be getting such calls to start. VERY few children that behave so horribly come from parents that do what they're supposed to do. Sure, once in a while there will be a rogue demon child that arises from a family of angels, but pretty much, parents reap what they sow. If they don't like hearing from the teacher, they should work on their "home training," to borrow a phrase from my students.
     
  21. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    This may be true, but that does nothing to help the teacher's situation.

    A teacher is free to call home all they want; but, just because you call home, it does not mean that the parent is going to do anything to create a meaningful change in their child's behavior. A lot of parents of difficult kids talk a big game but do not enforce consequences, or they have no control over their child's behavior, especially at school. Calling parents to "pester and bother them into action" is often ineffective. But, once again, the teacher is free to call all they want.

    We have parents who ask us not to call anymore or that they don't want to discuss their child's issues anymore. "What do you want me to do? YOU'RE the teacher!" Others just stop picking up the phone.
     
  22. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    :hugs: and I'm sorry this is happening to you!

    I don't have any great ideas, but I wanted to comment on this:

    The lack of phone issue could be solved by using your own cellphone with a Google Voice account. My principal taught me about this - we use it for field trips so we don't have to give out our real cell number to parents. Basically, you set up a Google Voice account, which gives you a different phone number, but you can use your own phone to send and receive calls and texts. The person receiving the call sees the Google Voice number, NOT your number. To be honest, I don't know tons about it, but it may be an option if you WANT to make calls from the privacy of your classroom and without limitations.
     
  23. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Yeah, sadly, I've seen that too. But I'd at least make a nuisance of myself a bit with the parents. If nothing else, to cover my butt if things got worse.
     
  24. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    For every girl, I have three boys. They are rough, loud, and in my class because they are immature. I am going crazy. Today I had a water emergency and spent the day at home. It was heaven. They are so bad that the librarian threatened to not let them come back. I feel your pain. If I did alcohol, I would invite you out!
     
  25. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sorry, I don't have a lot of advice :(
    Even though calling home doesn't always work, you have nothing to lose, so I would do it, as often as I need to. That includes calling home if the behavior improved slightly.
    Most if not all behavior issues come from the home situation, so you can't go wrong by calling home. At the very least you can establish a relationship with the parent, so they won't believe everything their little angel does.
    What I've found is that a lot of parents don't know what to do with the kids (shocker) and they're looking to us for answers. So, without overstepping my boundaries, I would make some suggestions for follow through at home.

    I would not do any one on one teaching at this time, because it seems like the kids are just waiting for the opportunity for you to get distracted. I would do only direct teaching, for the whole class.
    I have been in alternative ed, so I'm used to that, my job was always to ensure that there is order in the classroom, and that is the best way to keep it up. It's true, you won't be giving each student the attention they deserve, but it's not really happening right now either.
     
  26. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    You could use your cell phone and just press *67 before you enter the phone number to make sure they don't get your phone #. I do that all the time.
     
  27. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    It sucks to not be able to hand out any punishments. I'm in a similar position, although I can take away recess, which I absolutely hate doing. They only get 10 minutes a day and they need it so bad.

    My class does the best when there is zero talking and zero movement. I have instituted hand signals and, just today, added a few more, so there is absolutely no reason why they should be up without permission. I think, as long as I strongly uphold the rules, this will be effective. Packets would work great for my group, but we have to team plan, so I have nearly zero control over why my kids are doing each day (a huge part of the problem). If you can give seatwork, I say go for it.

    I like Love and Logic and Responsive Classroom, but feel like they have done little to help me manage my difficult class. I have started to transition to more of a Whole Brain Teaching approach, which I don't prefer, but think will work better for this group. Maybe that would be something to try?

    Hang in there.
     
  28. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Thanks. I'll research it. (Hoping it can be turned on and off? I don't want them calling the fake number and driving me nuts!)
     
  29. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    One room is 21 boys/11 girls and the other is 18 boys/14 girls.
    They are both very immature in most ways, but very sexually mature. It is strange.

    I don't drink, either, but I've been thinking about it lately! :lol:
     
  30. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I know this is the case for most. Their parents don't know what to do with them. My fear is that as this generation grows up and has kids, it will be even worse. Something has to give somewhere or humanity is doomed.

    The parents (of the good kids) are getting frustrated about their kids lack of understanding. I'm afraid to start getting flack from them. :( It also kills me to tell a kid- go sit down, I can't help you. (I've already made it a rule that you come to me for help. I learned the first week that I couldn't come to them because then my back was to some kids and that definitely didn't work. So I sit at the front on a high stool and they have to come to me.) I hate it, but at the same time, I don't want anything happening in my room that will get me fired or something. I usually email my admin when I'm seeking advice so that I have record of it. I'm not willing to get nonrenewed for classroom management at the end of the year when I sought out help many times.
     
  31. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I wanted to throw this out there- this is NOT inner city. I suppose it is technically suburban, but it has more of a rural feel. There is only a subdivision or two in the district. Most houses sit on 1-5 acres of land, with some sitting on more.
     
  32. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I have the good fortune of having a really good first math core (mainly AIG kids), a low second math core (so kids like to play a LOT), and they are mixed for 3rd and 4th science.

    With my 2nd core, as much as the powers that be hate a teacher sitting down, when they are doing independent work, I sit at the front of the room at my architect's desk and they come to me. That way I can sit and watch every face the whole time. When I go to people in that room, as soon as I crouch over to help someone, I know there are four or five kids who are making faces, giggling, mouthing out something, or passing notes. Now in my first core, I could LEAVE them and go shop at the mall the whole class and they would do exactly what I asked them to do.

    It's amazing. I feel your pain, although I know your situation is insufferable by your description of it.

    I am jealous of your math/social studies combo; I am trying to talk my teammate into taking the science praxis so I can teach SS next year and her science.
     
  33. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Okay here's some suggestions.

    1. Silent lunch (I've always ALWAYS hated silent lunch, but at my school in order to write up a kid I have to give them three silent lunches first)
    2. Assigned seats at lunch (something else I don't love, but I only had to do it once and my class has improved immensely after that)
    3. Get all your terrible kids on a behavior plan, just to CYA. If they have an IEP everything that's not covered on the IEP goes on the behavior plan. Have all the teachers sign off, kid sign off, and parents. Then start writing up the kids. Every time they mess up.
    4. I know you're making phone calls, but have you had conferences with the parents? Have all the teachers be there, and the child.
    5. Offer reward to the class if they behave well for the day. Like "I plan to take you all outside for the last 10 minutes of class, but only if everyone behaves"

    I'm sorry to hear things are so rough. What it might come down to is just taking this year one day at a time.
     
  34. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Peer pressure. I love using it. When I'm trying to get the kids to move, be quiet, start following procedures, I start counting down from some random number, if not everyone is ready by the time I get to zero, I give myself a (teacher/student) point. If they are doing what they're supposed to be doing, I give the students a point. The good kids start pressuring the naughty kids really fast to behave.
    I do secret student as well when they are particularly having a rough few days, I pull one of the kids' popsicle sticks and I tell the kids, "I honestly don't care how the rest of you behave today, but I am watching my secret student. If this kid is good for the entire day everyone gets a reward, if the student is naughty, no one does."
    Another thought is to do proximity praise and rewards, praise and reward the kids sitting next to the naughty kids, it's fairly effective for most kids.
     
  35. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Great ideas, and thanks for sharing them! :thanks:
     
  36. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Like several other people that have posted, I don't have a whole lot to offer in the way of advice, but I've had a lot of classes like you have.

    Since it's high school, I can do what I do, but I can't see you doing it in an elementary school: I'll write the assignment on the board, announce to the class, "Do it - don't do it, it's up to you. It's your grade. Feel free to come up to my desk if you need help with anything." That's it. I'll help anyone who asks - the kids that actually care about their grades will come up. The ones who don't, (which often is about 85% of them) I don't have to deal with them, their disruptions, and they fail.

    If the students don't care, their parents don't care, administration doesn't care (and they all don't), I don't feel I have to stress myself out being the only one who cares.


    :)
     
  37. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Oct 4, 2014

    ^^^ I feel you. When I taught MS, I had classes so bad that I would also do this especially if the whole grade was placed on lockdown. Basically, I made packets of work or wrote the assignment on the board and circled the room to offer help to those who wanted it. One year, Admin even told us not to do anymore direct instruction since the behavior was so wild (these were 7th graders). I'm with you about not stressing myself out when I have no support from parents or Admin.

    I've also seen teachers tell students that those who want to learn should move to the front and the everyone else can just sit in the back. One was an 7th grade math class and another was a HS Stats/Prob class.
     
  38. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 4, 2014

    giraffe,

    I can tell that your situation has been really tough on you. I am sorry you are going through such a tough class. I took some time to think of what I think would be the best 3 things to do to help the situation.

    1. Since you need to know what will work at your school with your population of students, I believe your best bet is to observe other teachers at your school. You could do this during a couple of prep times or possibly your P would get you a sub half a day to observe other teachers. Each teacher teaches so differently, that you will end up with many more options of how to approach your populations. Also, you'll be able to see how effectively/ineffectively they work. Of course, the better the teacher you can observe the better.

    2. Power Teaching--It really is great with routines and the videos on YouTube are free.

    or Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones is the best book out there. Purchase the book and read it thoroughly first. Then in a few weeks you can implement the program and it will blow you away how much an improvement there will be. It will save you lots of $$$ as well as you won't have to use prizes to get students to behave. I haven't spent a dime on my class this year for prizes, and they are far better behaved with this Fred Jones' method. Before I used Fred Jones' method, I spent lots of $$ for prizes and only had mediocre classroom management. I also started enjoying teaching so much more.

    3. Write down what and when things are going right. When are the children behaving for you? What kind of lesson are they doing? Do this even if the well behaved moments are only for a few minutes.

    Good luck to you.
     
  39. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Oct 4, 2014

    I have been feeling that way up until this past week. It was the first week I felt like a teacher again. I know I teach young kids and there´s that perception that they are sweet little things...which, most of the time that´s true but this year I was given a group of 6 behavior/emotional kids (and 10 low kids)...it´s a tough, tough group...kids who just tell you no..One who runs out and disappears. He also goes into a rage at any moment...anything can set him off, like Thursday when I called him to a reading group with me. I can´t be left alone with my group because of the behavior. In any case, I know exactly how you feel!
     
  40. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 4, 2014

    Giraffe, is this a new school for you this year?
     
  41. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Oct 4, 2014

    Yes. And I was warned it was a difficult group. I grossly underestimated what 'difficult' meant.
    I chose to go with the difficult group and 5 mile commute over a good group and 90 mile commute.

    I've been assured by everyone that it is just this group- the rest are great. The specials teachers are all 20-30 year veterans and they all say this is the worst group they've ever had. Two specials teachers flat out refused to take the 6th graders this year. (Not sure how you can do that when it is your job!) They've brought people over from the high school to teach our specials classes.

    I worry about the future. I don't want to be non-renewed or something. But, I don't really want to stay in this district regardless of how good future kids are. When I took this job I planned on using it as a stepping stone. My area is very hard to get into, so I figured I'd keep applying to the districts that I really want until I eventually break in. (There are 3 I'd love to be in. I've at least subbed in all of them and know exactly what to expect with them.)
     
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