Kids Screaming Behind Your Back

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by mikemack42, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Apr 11, 2011

    So I take my class outside today, and tell them I'll have them do two presentations, but each presentation will only be done with half the class. The other half of the class will be on the other side of the school yard doing independent work, about 20 feet away. I figure that way I won't be trying to get 20 or so kids focused on one group presenting while they're outside, but instead getting just half the class to focus.

    So I get the rowdier half of the class to pay attention while one group makes their presentation, and they do it fairly well, and then I go to the other half of the class to have them see one group do a presentation. But it's difficult to manage because the rowdier half of the class, despite being about twenty feet away, is making so much noise that it's hard to hear these presentations.

    So I go there and tell them they have to quiet down and the next time someone creates a distraction they get detention. One of them causes a distraction and I go there and give him detention.

    But then as I turn my back a few of them scream. I turn around and say if they scream again, I'll give all of them detention, but the truth is I don't want to do that, because I know only a few of them are actually doing it. So they scream again when I turn my back and honestly I don't know what to do- I can't punish them because I don't know who actually did it, but I don't want to just let it go. What would you do in that situation? Thanks for any help.
     
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  3. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2011

    Yeah, don't do something that you know that you can't keep. Address it briefly and move forward.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 11, 2011

    Hey there - Bogota, Colombia - wow! So, a few thoughts for you:

    1. First, I like your idea about splitting the class up, but I'm guessing that was strike 1 :). They just couldn't handle it, and you ended up having to play clean up.

    2. With the initial detention, you went from "0 to 60" in terms of your consequences - having smaller consequences in between a verbal reprimand and full detention might have been helpful - rearranging seat, extra work, time off recess, loss of other privilege, etc. I'd brainstorm a list of consequences that would work in your room/teaching environment, and make a mental note to use those next time.

    3. By the time it got to the other kids, there seems to be have been a power struggle, with some snowballed group behavior. With the power struggle, because you responded so forcefully (hefty punishment right away), the natural response of the child and group is to regain power/control, so they "fought back" how they could. With the "snowballed behavior," there was a bit of "mob mentality" most likely - especially because they were somewhat invisible, individual kids felt empowered to misbehave because of the dynamics of the group. To solve this, again part restructuring your consequences will help, because a power struggle will be less likely. Another cause was the lack of visibility - mob mentality can grow when you don't have enough supervision, which would be fixed by not putting yourself in the same situation again. Also, you might have not gone down the road of consequences, but of humor or simple restructuring - possibly moving the kids to an area where you could see, or moving yourself to the other side of the group so you had visibility. Possibly splitting the group up into 4 or so separate groups to reduce the "crowd effect" and make each individual child more visible and unable to hide in the crowd. Possibly appointing a peer monitor to observe - someone who the group respected as a whole. Also, don't be afraid to call off the activity, and regroup - take a 5 minute break with recess, or head back inside to finish up. Once you see an activity "head south," end it early rather than letting it snowball. Finally, instead of punishment, trying a big reinforcement might have been more helpful - going over, and laughing with the group, saying "very funny. I'll tell you what, if I'm not distracted over here for the next 5 minutes, I'll let everyone have 5 minutes on the playground (or of free time, etc.). If anyone here notices one person ruining it for the group, let me know next time I come back, but don't interrupt me before I come back over."

    Delivery of all of this is huge. Usually, I see snowballing of group behavior when the teacher seems frustrated or out of control, or when they clearly can't keep their end of the bargain, as the last poster mentioned. Think about the tone of your voice, your body language, the words you chose, etc. - did they communicate that you were emotionally charged and frustrated, or that you were rolling with it, adjusting, and in control of yourself and the situation?

    Hopefully this helps! Also, if this is a routine occurrence (this type of group noncompliance/rebelliousness) there may be some other ideas too!
     
  5. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Apr 12, 2011

    If you gave them a threat you need to be able to follow through or else the next time they will not believe you will follow through. I would recommend the next time you are working with smaller groups you outline the expectations and the understanding if a student can not follow through with the expectations the student will stop whatever he/she is doing and come and join the group you are working with.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 12, 2011

    Of course, hindsight is always 20-20. But here are my reacions:

    1. Just curious as to the groupings... was there no way to split up the rowdier part of the group so they wouldn't feed off each other?

    2. Taking them outside probably didn't help. At least around here, outside time means recess during the school day.

    3. You probably should have had the rowdy kids give their presentation last, so their "off time" behavior would be more tied into their classroom behavior. Once their presentation was over, they knew they were "done."

    4. What kind of independent work were they doing? Did they see some sort of value in it-- would it get them a grade, was it part of the larger project? Or did they view it as busy work?


    5. And the big one: I know how hard it is, but giving a threat you can't fulfill is always a huge mistake.
     
  7. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Apr 13, 2011

    Thanks. I did split up the groups after I came back so they were more apart. The independent work they were doing is a story they will have to turn in for a grade, though maybe I didn't make that clear enough (the grade part I mean).

    I really think it was the fact that I made a threat I knew I couldn't follow through on, when humor would've worked better. I even had a kid say to me after the class (who's one of the rowdy group, but also a bright and generally thoughtful kid) that I should try enjoying the class more. I do actually love my job, but need better judgement on when to lighten up. The next day's class with that group went pretty well at least.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 13, 2011

    Good to hear the next day's class went well, and the fact that you realize you need to lighten up means you are self-aware. We all have weaknesses - fortunately for you, you know what one of them is, so you're a step ahead in fixing that one.
     
  9. m1trLG2

    m1trLG2 Companion

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    Apr 17, 2011

    punish them all is my advice. Group pressure is a powerful thing. It will make it obvious who the one being defiant was next time. I have done this in treatment when no one wants to own up to their misbehavior. The whole group looses out. Next time that person won't get any attention from their peers because they don't all want to get in trouble again and therefore the motivation to misbehave is gone.

    Give them all a detention. No biggie. They'll get over it and learn you aren't kidding around. It's a good to lay down a heavy consequence every once in a while, keeps kids on their toes :).
     

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