Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by onestepcloser, Sep 27, 2010.
Sep 27, 2010
Don't fret! You're going through what most new teachers experience. It's just a part of the job.
Do you have a detention or in-school policy? Find out! These will help with the late and misbehaviors in the class. Second, refuse to speak over the students-its hard but a must!
Every teacher has classroom management issues, even those teaching for 20 years! It does not make you a bad teacher!!!
Find a method that works for you with absent work. I have another student write down and collect papers for absent students. Then I just attach names and hand them out when the student comes back. I've also just kept the papers in a filing system and put it on the students to get their materials. Find what works for you.
Sep 28, 2010
Ok, what is your discipline policy? Can you hold lunch detention? Type up your behavior expectations for the class, or take it from your syllabus or something. Make copies. Hand out copies to each student. Start tomorrow with something like this:
"The behavior in this class has been unacceptable. Starting today, there will be severe consequences for disruptive behavior. You will be given a warning, and if that continues, you will come in for lunch detention and copy the behavioral expectations for this class. If you fail to show up for lunch detention, you will be given a referral."
As far as tardies go, if this is not 1st period, then they are ditching. Unless they have a pass or an excused absence, I would write them up. If it's 1st period, sometimes they just really can't get to school on time due to family things. I've developed a missing work system where I put the handouts in a folder on the wall. If they miss, they grab whatever they're missing from the folder and have 2 weeks to turn it in for reduced credit. After 2 weeks, it won't be accepted.
Well, how is the admin at your school? Do you have campus monitors? You really need to figure out where your admin stand, ASAP. Until you do, you don't really know what course of action to take.
At my site, they used to assign 3 days in-house suspension for a no-show; now they are assigning regular suspension or after school detention. If you have bad admin who won't put any punch behind the referral, then the matter is a little more complicated. At my school, we can also do a 2-day "teacher suspension, " where a student is suspended just from your class until they resolve whatever issue it is.
I thought you said your course was required to graduate? What grade are you teaching? That should be a little motivation for anyone above 9th grade at least. Print out grade reports for them to take home to their parents and sign to be returned. For those that don't bring them back, or the signatures are forged, call home.
Students will talk a big game about being sent out of class (I don't care. They don't do anything anyway. I'd rather leave than be in here, etc etc.) but the reality is that 98% of them would rather be in class with their friends than having to deal with admin, even if the admin doesn't do much.
If a student refuses to leave, I call an escort/campus monitor/school resource officer. If you don't have any of those things, ask your admin what the course of action is in that situation.
Hang in there, onestepcloser. The advice you're being given is good, sound advice.
What you're going through is honestly not that unusual for a new teacher, especially one with three different preps.
My wife is also a first-year teacher, and she has four preps. As I'm writing this, she's still working to get ready for tomorrow, and she's been at it for seven hours. She's as upset and frustrated as you are sometimes. Today was a bad day for her, too, and she's done some crying this evening as well.
Make sure you take good care of yourself. Find time to do something every day that you enjoy doing, just for the sake of doing it. Otherwise, you'll feel like you're doing nothing but working, and no matter how much you enjoy your work, you need to feel like there's more to your life than your job.
If there are times when you truly enjoy the experiences you're having as a teacher, hold on to them. They're signs that you truly are cut out for teaching.
Sep 29, 2010
They should do something about it, because a bunch of tardies add up to truancy, and truancy is illegal. I know in CA, after you have a certain number of absences or tardies, they send you a very scary letter saying you're going to be taken to truancy court if it continues. If it still continues, they get the letter saying they are going to be taken to truancy court. Parents end up with a fine or going to jail. I'm not sure if it's nation-wide, but I would assume so.
Yay! So hang in there until November! It just sounds like these are a just really challenging kids. Hopefully your next batch is a little more ideal.
Have you tried contacting parents?
Not all at once but maybe 2 good behavior calls and 2 bad behavior calls at night until they right the ship.
Just be as consistent as possible. In my (very limited) experience, kids will always say "I don't care about X punishment" In some cases they may truly not care, but in other cases, they do care, but figure they might be able to shake up your confidence by challenging you...
Give them the consequence, call their parents, work with admin, do whatever you can do. But, DON'T take it personally, just do your job and if you do your job consistently, you will be fine, and eventually you will start to feel more comfortable. Hang in there, keep plugging away and don't overwhelm yourself. It will get better...
Put yourself in your students' shoes
Onestepcloser, have you thought about how your classes are experienced by your students?
While it is obvious to everyone here that you have a tough class, there are indications in what you write that the situation is probably the result of many factors, only one of which is the nature of the students themselves. Specifically, you are new to the job, and no doubt you are doing things that an experienced teacher wouldn't do (this isn't a criticism, merely an observation; we all did it). I suspect that other teachers in the school find these students a challenge, but I also expect that they have more success in getting the students to complete work and turn up to class on time, because they have learned strategies and have a mindset that gets these results.
So, here's my suggestion: imagine yourself as one of your students. When they walk into your class, how does it feel? Are there kids talking, wasting time, getting out of their seats? Does it feel like just being there is a boring waste of time? Does the teacher talk about things we (the students) really need to hear, is she really teaching the subject, or does she spend all her time dealing with other kids?
Am I bored? Am I looking for excuses to leave the room or talk with my friends? Do I care about needing the credit from this course? Yes, but right now I can't feel any motivation to do my work - no-one else is working either, and I figure I'll get it done when it's closer to November. It's only September, right? I don't care about this class, but I'll do what I have to so I can graduate when I really have to. I would listen to the teacher if she said stuff I cared about and if she was really helping me to learn what I need to get out of here, but right now it's not happening for me.
This probably sounds pretty harsh, and I'm making lots of assumptions. But when reading your posts I imagined you spending most of your lessons putting out spot fires, rather than teaching, and finding just getting the students to listen requires more energy than you can muster every lesson you take them.
I suggest that you really change the atmosphere in the room, starting tomorrow! Set a high expectation on respect - respect of students for you, respect you show to them, and respect for fellow learners. Speak frankly about the students' need to pass the course to graduate, that this is their education, not yours, and that they need to own their learning. Set really clear rules for being late, as already suggested.
Then when the students are quiet and listening, teach! Try to engage students in learning, by tapping into their concerns and interests. Bring in examples of what you are teaching from outside - home, the media, whatever. Show them what other people are saying about the subject in social media, perhaps. Of course you have to follow a set curriculum. But I doubt you are prohibited from introducing other material to support it? Find other resources that you can bring to class to make the subject come alive!
Let us know how you go! All the very best - believe in yourself!
I'm new too - but I'm fortunate in that I am older and I didn't enter the profession with the belief that I could save the world. I know how kids behave so bad behavior, while frustrating, isn't surprising.
My advice to you is to be as removed as you can from the misbehavior. Johnny comes late to class? "Johnny, you have to go to the office to get a note." Then continue on with the lesson. Don't give Johnny airtime. If Johnny doesn't go, remind him that he needs to go to the office. If he still doesn't go simply state that refusing to leave constitutes insubordination and you are obligated by school policy to call the deputy/principal. Then do it. Calmly. Don't let it look like it bothers you because it shouldn't. He is making that choice, not you. Don't argue, don't get upset. These are their choices. You are there to help them graduate. If they choose not to accept that help it is on them.
Sep 30, 2010
You're getting a lot of good advice. I especially like that part about not acting bothered, not spending time arguing.
First of all, it's great that it's a one semester class. As you say, it will be nice to have a fresh start halfway through. But you can start improving things tomorrow.
Start with the really straightforward things, like the tardy policy. Post the school policy and stick with it. Call home to warn parents that students are approaching the limit (with us it's the 4th) for tardies before all subsequent ones get referrals. Then just write them up. If they miss more than a certain number of minutes, most schools count it as a cut rather than a tardy.
Assign detentions, give a form or slip instead of arguing, call home to notify if not served the first day, then after the second day, send a referral in for failing to serve detention. Most schools have a policy on this, whether the kid has 24 hour notice or 2 days. Follow it. Document the phone calls.
It's much easier to have administrators deal with those kind of referrals than the ones where you're sending the kid out in the middle of class because you can't handle him.
You know what, the truth is this: some classes are worse than others. It sounds like you have a rough one.
I always laugh when people give this piece of advice: "Don't talk over them. Wait for them to be quiet." You can say one thing for certain about teachers who give you that advice: they have a class where the majority of students care about learning. A student who gets freaked out and "vibed" into being quiet by a silent teacher is probably the furthest thing from what you have in your room. From your description, it sounds like you have the kind of kids I had when I taught high school. The kind of kids who, if you stood silently and waited for them to finish talking, you'd be standing there the whole period.
The best piece of advice I can give for students disrupting your room is to give them one warning, and then remove them from your room. You will never get anything accomplished if they think they can sit there and disrupt you without immediate consequences. Calling parents is nice, but treat it as an additional consequence, outside your normal disciplinary procedures.
Oct 3, 2010
I remember almost the same stories from my first year teaching (and I don't have ALL THAT much experience, but maybe that helps because I still remember so keenly what that was like). What are your 3 preps (if one of them is science or math, I might be able to help)? Is there a way you can borrow even more materials and create less? Is there a way you can cut down on the time you spend grading so that you have more time to do other things? One technique I used when I was trying to optimize my time was to make a grid of the date and assignment name and the names of the students in class. I got a stamp with my initials (although any relatively unique stamp would do) and would stamp the assignment they were working on and the corresponding grid on my paper. I would do this for daily homework and for "keeping up" with classwork, sometimes stamping the work even before they quite finished as long as they were doing the work (this way I could go around the room and help them on their assignments). I would write "A" for absent on my chart if the student was absent, and this way I would be able to keep track of which students had done which assignment. If there was a dispute about whether the student had done the assignment, I would ask them to produce their work with the on-time stamp. If the student had done half the work, I would stamp and write "1/2." I never accepted late homework because we always reviewed it in class, but I always let absent students pick up missed homework and turn it in late (with no real deadlines because I was too busy to keep track of such things, and always wanted students to have a chance to try out the work). Likewise for in-class assignments. I pretty much had one in-class assignment and one homework assignment every day. This way they got instant feedback about doing work. Then I would tally up the stamps and divide by the number of assignments to get a class participation grade, which I counted for 10% or so of their total grade. I kept extra copies of all of my in-class assignments and homeworks in folders in a crate near the front of my classroom, with the date and assignment number written on the tab of the folder (even if the assignment was just 'page 25 questions 1-4,' I would write this on paper and put it in the folder. I kept originals in sheet protectors in a binder.
I think that these kids primarily have motivational issues -- but it's possible that school is just not stressed as necessary for life by their parents, who may come from a variety of cultures and who might even view school as a rather overwhelming and even snooty institution. If you can, try to get to know the kids individually. See if you can chat with the early arrivals as they come in. See if you can find out what their aspirations are, and what it is that they find important. Even give them a survey for finding out about them as a warm-up. Give them a compliment about something they wrote about themselves. See if you can use positive attention (including bribery) to get them to feel special. For example, let the first five students to class have a turn in YOUR teacher chair during class. Basically, these kids have given up on themselves as possibly having any success in school. If you want to reach them, you'll have to trick them into forgetting all about how they were unsuccessful in every other class up until yours. And if you can't reach them, don't worry, you are not alone -- none of their previous teachers reached them either.
One thing I learned (but of course I made mistakes) was that I should never, never show them negative attention in class (because this teaches them to try to get negative attention). So, if I have a problem with a student, I make sure to ask them OUTSIDE the classroom, in as calm of a voice as I can manage, and then actually talk to them so sweet outside, as if I understand their situation so much, but explain my needs as a teacher and how I need their cooperation and leadership to help other students stay on target. Good luck!
Oct 4, 2010
In_Denial, great advice! You sound like a teacher who is really organized, and who really cares about teaching and about students.
Oct 21, 2010
Thursday,Friday and Saturday night phone calls are my BEST teaching tool ever. Thursday nights I call the parents of my awesome students and tell them how great the their student is. I love these phone calls. Friday and Saturday calls are reserved for my struggling students. I call between 4-7pm right as they're getting ready to go omut for the night.
Is this evil? Yes. But I do tell them that I do this because I want them to succeed and that I only do it reenforce their success. I also send emails like crazy, I have some awesome canned responses that I send a couple times a month, explaining the units etc.
I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but your first year is supposed to suck. It's your most difficult, annoying and stressful year. What's awesome is that things get easier every year. My first year I got mono, didn't take time off because I was afraid of getting fired (silly me) and wore my self so thin that I nearly broke.
I came back the second year, made friends with other teachers, begged, borrowed and stole lesson plans. Five years later, I'm in a much happier and productive place. I sometimes still get really frustrated (like today) and just work through it.
Try to take some time for yourself. You are not in Freedom Writers and trying to save the world. Breathe. Have dinner out, read a book and do something relaxing.
I'm totally here if you need to freak out to someone.