Job in possible jeopardy due to classroom management, please help!

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by sequence, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2010

    Okay, here's some background information. I'm a 5th year teacher, and this is my second year at this district. I teach English for 7-9 at a small middle/high school of about 200 students. The teacher I replaced was well-loved and from what I've heard, did not demand a lot of her students.

    My classes are comprised with about 20-25 students of mixed abilities, as well as students who have been retained for one or more years (as is policy in our school if a student fails two or more core classes).

    In one of my classes I have a student who is extremely disruptive, argumentative, refuses to work, swears, throws things, physically harms other students. That student's mother is after me, saying I'm targeting her student. She has called the board members, the super intendent, showed up unannounced and uninvited to observe my classroom, called me a liar in front of the super. and the school board, among other things. I have tried everything to help this student. I have made adjustments to the curriculum, called her often (when I thought we had a positive relationship going), offered for her student to come in after school or at lunch for help, everything I could think of, and nothing is working. This child has been retained at least once and has no intention of doing any work in my class (or any other for that matter). Is it time to give up?

    In another class, over half of the students are disruptive and behavior problems. They can't sit next to each other, they can't look at each other, love arguing and one child in particular, does everything in his power to draw power away from me and to him. He refuses to listen, refuses to accomodate simple requests, disrupts, is disrespectful both in front and behind my back, does enough work to pass the class, but makes no mistake about proving to me or the others that he thinks my class is a joke and that I'm a horrible teacher. When it gets too much, and not even moving him to a separate corner works (not that he goes when I ask him to), he won't even go to the office and always remarks that the super thinks that I am a joke and my discipline is a joke. This is not helped by the fact that over half of every referral I've sent in mysteriously "disapears" and is never dealt with (I've made copies). I've done everything I've could to reach this child, and nothing works. This class in particular is a zoo and a circus and only by choosing interesting books do I get the kids engaged at all.

    Just a note: the other teachers at the school also have issues with both of these students and the superintendent. The super does not follow the discipline plan of the school and only does something if either a) you make him by confronting him about in front of others (and he takes it out on you later) or b) if he likes you and you're pretty, young, and female. The parents of these students have went to the school board and I've been told that at least a couple of them are adamantly against rehiring me, even though they don't know me and have never met me. I'm really worried that now I'm going to lose my job and I will NOT have a non-renewal, I'll resign first. They say my discipline is terrible and that I'm too hard (aka my curriculum is too challenging as opposed to the last teacher's). I plan on writing them a letter, but what can I do with these students?

    Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions? I need help! I've researched and tried the love and logic thing, and it works very well with my younger kids. I'd also like to note these are the only two classes I have issues with, though most of the challenges are with the second class I wrote about.

    I'm sorry about the novel, but I'd love to hear anyone's input!
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Apr 17, 2010

    If you've already read Teaching with Love and Logic, try Whole Brain Teaching (www.wholebrainteaching.com). Head over to their website, register for free, and download the book on teaching terrible teens. There are strategies that might help you. Good luck!
     
  4. Grover

    Grover Cohort

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    Apr 17, 2010

    English has a lot of potential for inspiring middleschool students if you're not too tied to a packaged curriculum. What kinds of things are you trying to teach?
     
  5. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    Apr 18, 2010

    Thanks for the tip on whole brain teacher, I'll check that out as soon as I'm done posting this.

    When I came here, I was able to design my own curriculum, within reason of course. With textbooks from 1986, I'm moving towards novels, trying to choose selections that interest the students and I'm teaching them to analyze literature while they're reading. The students are doing great at it, except for the students I talked about above. According to my super, my teaching style is so different from the person before me, that is making some parents question it, I guess. It's frustrating because i was able to raise the scores in reading, but that doesn't seem to matter. sigh, sorry about that...

    Anyway, aside from teaching the kids to analyze literature while reading it, I'm also teaching them to write various types of essays and reflect back on what they have learned, vocabulary, etc. I am def. open to any ideas if anyone has them, thanks!
     
  6. Grover

    Grover Cohort

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    Apr 18, 2010

    A lot of kids this age really can't step outside of their immediate selves, so to speak. What they know is what they like, and there isn't any room for anything else. Sometimes it's better to engage them in the process by applying to stuff they are already in some way familiar with, that is part of their world, and worry about literary value later. Without knowing the kids, I couldn't suggest what that would be, but you might try asking them.
     
  7. PEteacher07

    PEteacher07 Cohort

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    Apr 18, 2010

    Does your district have a behavioral specialist that you can be in contact with to observe these students? I have you talked to other teachers who have these students to see if they are have anything that is working for them?

    I am curious if these parents are complaining about the other teachers as well. That would send off some warning bells to administration that these parents are complainers.

    Are you saying that you have a student who is physically harming other people and the school isn't doing anything about it? If I were the parents of the children who were being physically harmed by this student, I would be raising HELL.

    Can't really help you with the curriculum things as I am a PE teacher!

    Let us know how things are progressging.
     
  8. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    Apr 21, 2010

    Thanks for the additional tips! We don't have a behavioral specialist, so I've enlisted the help of the counselor whenever possible, as well as talked to the other teachers who share the same students. Most of them just let the kids be and don't expect or require them to work, and I have a hard time letting a student do nothing in my classroom. Yes, the parents complain about the other teachers, but they're all tenured, and administration knows about these issues. It's the school board who is unfamiliar with the problems and is taking the word of a couple parents without checking out the information for themselves to see if it's true.

    I don't know what I should do in this case, honestly. I've sent a letter, and it was very respectful and nice, to the school board members. I wrote about who I was, what I taught, curriculum wise, my goals for the students, and just some general info. about how the students who misbehave in class may have challenges outside of the classroom and may disrupt other rooms as well. I also tried to open up some communication between us, either by email, phone, or inviting them to come in a talk to me and observe a class or two if they're interested. I haven't heard back from them yet (sent the letters Monday) so we'll see if I hear anything or not. Either way, I'm glad I wrote it and stood up for myself. I'm told a lot of this is political, and I'm not going to be anyone's pawn.

    It seems the only suggestions the other teachers have who have these students is to a) ignore the behavior, b) let them do whatever they want as long as they're not hurting others, c) just give them worksheets every day to do individually, or d) kick them out. I don't really like any of those suggestions. I'm trying some other things, like more engaging discussions and small group work, but I still find myself correcting a lot of behavior and getting them back on task.
     
  9. hac711

    hac711 Companion

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    Apr 25, 2010

    Buy a camera and record your classes. Put the camera in the ceiling (a small one, like what spies use) and just record your classes everyday. If you receive a non renewal make sure you get the reason and then sue them, using the video tapes as proof of your compentency and ability. In this day and age you need to protect your rump, so to speak. I have had to deal with absent Board members and an unwilling admin team. Protect yourself.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 25, 2010

    I would be careful before you try this strategy. You can get into serious trouble video taping children without permission.
     
  11. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    Apr 25, 2010

  12. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    May 6, 2010

    I teach K and had a couple of parents who talked themselves into a frenzy about what was going on in their classroom (every bit of it hearsay from their kids).

    What helped me deal with it was that I have a discipline plan typed out with a list of classroom rules, consequences and rewards. In reviewing the plan I was able to be honest with myself about areas I had weakened, and areas of this person's concern that were just plain hogwash.

    I made a plan to deal with the particular problems two kids were having with each other (basically they are never alone together).

    I wrote a formal letter to the parent with a copy of the discipline plan and how I was specifically dealing with the situation. I also obliquely referred to the fact that all her allegations were hearsay from kids.

    That was the end if it-- I guess. I haven't heard anything more.

    I guess what I'm saying is that you should have your ducks in a row, and teach according to the best practices you have in your skill set, and present yourself confidently on that basis. There still may be jerks who focus on you as the source of their campaign to change the world (rather than try to change their kids!), but at least if you do these things you will have a clear conscience and know that you did not fail personally.
     
  13. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    May 6, 2010

    Thanks for the advice! The student in question left the school so hopefully things will calm down somewhat for now...
     
  14. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    May 25, 2010

    Have you talked to parents of kids who are doing well in your classes? Positive communication with other parents could win you some important allies.

    Also, have you talked to the parents who are so against you? I don't know how productive that would be, but maybe just making it clear that your goal is always to help their child learn, and you want to work together with them to make that happen, would be a helpful thing to at least get on the record.

    Also, I do recommend looking into Whole Brain Teaching, it's helped me calm some rowdy classes. Also know you're certainly not alone in being run ragged by disobedient students- it happens to me and most people I work with pretty regularly. The important thing is you're actively looking for solutions.
     
  15. sequence

    sequence Rookie

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    Jun 5, 2010

    Thanks, I'm so glad this year is over and we don't have kids anymore! I hate to say it but I was so ready for a break.

    To answer one of the questions above, I try to make good phone calls home as often as I can, though sometimes it slips by the wayside when school gets really busy.

    This last week was one of the worst I've ever had. I found out my P was leaving, and while he didn't do much for discipline, which is a huge understatement, it's more the devil you know kind of attitude.

    I don't know who is coming in, and it kind of scares me. Yes, we could luck out, but it could also be worse. I love most of my students, but can't do another class like the one I had this year, mentally I don't think I have it in me.
     

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