Losing steam and shutting down

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Genmai, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

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    Jan 17, 2010

    Hey All,

    With the winter break over, the rush to prepare for the state exams is an oppressive force over me. I thought about doing some work over the winter break but really zoned out for the most part. When I returned, the kids were out of control, and I feel like I'm back to where I stated at the beginning of the year. Classroom management is a hot mess, and instruction has fallen to the wayside.

    I can't reasonably restore order to 100% at this point because the kids do not respect me. I'm feeling pretty worn down right now because my classroom feels like a zoo. The kids are incredibly disrespectful, distracted and rarely on-task, and I can't teach at all. My supervisor is pissed about my lack of progress is increasing the heat. My mentor has given me a list of tasks to do, which while concrete, isn't helping. I'm out of steam and am shutting down. I need advice.

    :help:
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2010

    OK, we need specifics.

    Exactly what is going on? What happens when they enter the classroom-- what do you do, what do they do?

    How far have you gotten with calling parents?

    Where do they stand academically?

    Details!!
     
  4. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

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    Jan 17, 2010

    When the kids enter the classroom, they are rowdy and loud. I have a "Do Now" problems on the board but practically no one works on them. Most kids are wandering around, talking, etc. I spend the first 15 minutes just to get everyone in their seats, then I have to spend another 15 minutes to get through the do now problems. During all this time, the kids are still talking, wandering around, etc. There are constant disruptions.

    I've called home countless times, but the classroom is so disorderly that there is an accepted culture of disorder. Each kid that I discipline says the same thing - "Everyone else is ____ so why should I stop?" It is really aggravating and frustrating at the same time.

    The admins blame my instruction and say that my lessons are not engaging enough. The idea is that engaging lessons will cut down on the behavior issues. This is true - my lessons are not incredibly captivating and engaging lessons will cut down behavior issues given other factors are under control. As a new teacher, though, the "investigation based" curriculum has been hard for me to grasp, and I have no innovative engaging strategies to get the kids prepared for the state exam which is a different set of lesson plans. For the state exam, I have to get the kids to perform in a timed situation and without calculators now. Since my time management is atrocious, I'm at a loss on how do I get the kids to concentrate on pressured timed questions.

    Academically, I have a mixed bunch which further aggravates the situation. My best students are getting disenchanted with the class - a terrible situation. My middle and struggling students can't follow due to the chaos class. It is a bad situation. Overall, I feel like I'm on the Titanic....
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2010

    Gotta run--- be back later tonight.
     
  6. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Jan 17, 2010

    Hang in there! Are there some trusted colleagues you can get help from? I'd go observe other classes and get some ideas for curriculum and management. Or have them observe and offer concrete recommendations.
     
  7. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Jan 17, 2010

    I'm sorry to hear this. You are in a very tough situation. I understand what you mean by an accepted culture of disorder. You can make the situation better, but you will have to accept very small steps of progress, and then build on them.

    Take a look at this site:

    http://teachers.net/wong/DEC07/

    Check out the routine rhyme.

    Here is a discussion forum for middle school teachers that you might find helpful.

    http://teachers.net/mentors/middle_school/posts.html

    The important thing to know is that you are not alone.
     
  8. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Jan 17, 2010

    I agree that you should see if there is anyone who might be able to sit down with you and really mentor you. Are you assigned a mentor your first year at your school? Do you have any trusted colleagues who teach the same thing or similar? I also think that seeing someone in action is a very valuable tool. See if someone would be willing to have you sit in on a lesson so that you can see how they manage behavior and active engagement.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2010

    I think you need, first, to start with those "good kids." Meet with some of them after school, and let them know that things need to turn around and that you need their help. They need to shush the others and start get class settled.

    Next, talk to the coaches. Get them on board-- anyone reported as disruptive will end up doing laps. That will get another group of kids in your corner, whether they want to be there or not.

    Finally, go in and start class with a "discussion" but one in which you're the only one talking. Let them know that, effective immediatly, they WILL be quiet or they WILL be staying after. Failure to report after school will result in detention or whatever it is in your school. Then start picking off some of the worst offenders the very first time they break the rules.

    Also, let them know about the change in state policy, and that you'll be starting each class with a short quiz on times tables/ elmentary arithmetic. It will help get the grades up, remind them of the basics, and possibly get some of the kids on your side. But anyone not sitting quietly on task will get a 0 on the quiz, because of course you can't talk duing a quiz. Seeing some classmates run up a bunch of 10/10's on quizzes while they're getting 0's (to be signed of course) may help a bit more.
     
  10. ecl

    ecl Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2010

    Can you get an administrator to come into your classes and model an engaging lesson? Seeing someone else handle your students would be immensely helpful.

    What list of tasks has your mentor given you? What have you tried that has not been effective?

    Can you offer incentives to the students who are cooperative? Can you get the class leaders on your side? Identify the class leaders and see what leverage you have or can develop with them.


    I know this sounds hard to believe at this point, but if you can stick this out until the end of the school year and keep trying different approaches, you can use this experience to become a highly successful teacher. I've been in your shoes. I felt like an abject failure, having changed careers to go into teaching. The next year I took everything I learned and became an excellent classroom manager.

    It took that first year of failure to become a teacher who loves the job and the population that I work with. There is nothing more rewarding than reaching this group of students, and it is not beyond your reach.
     
  11. Jenstc2003

    Jenstc2003 Companion

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    Jan 18, 2010

    I know exactly how you feel- though as a sub, it's not as uncommon as I expect it would be for a teacher in their own classroom. I will be taking the advice here and seeing if there's any way to turn some of it to my own advantage as well. Thanks all- and good luck Genmai! I am hoping that the rest of your first year can be more successful!
     
  12. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jan 18, 2010

    I love the suggestion of a quiz first thing when they come in. I get all new students in a week and I'm keeping this in mind if I end up with any challenging classes. Typically fifth block takes a while to settle down (last block of the day, and right after lunch or study hall for about half the class) and this is a good trick to have in the bag.

    A tip someone gave earlier in the year that I applied and helped was to assign extra homework based on how much instruction time was lost. I did this with one class and it really helped. When they got too chatty I drew a tally mark on the board, and I added to it as needed. The first two tallies were "freebies" and after that it added to the homework.

    Good luck.
     
  13. love2learn07

    love2learn07 Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2010

    Wow I can totally relate!!! I've experienced some of the exact same challenges with the Do Now, disruptive kids and then just feeling plain old burnt out.

    Not to add one more thing to your list of things to do, but have you tried any positive behavior incentives (i.e. rewards at the end of the week for on task behavior, homework passes, etc.) Perhaps this would boost some kids' motivation? It doesn't have to be anything that's going to stress you out, but perhaps something that you could implement relatively quickly and easily?

    Also, maybe this is a good time to review rules and consequences? I know when we returned from winter break a lot of my kids were completely off the wall. Many were still convinced that they were on winter break and didn't have to do anything--although I was constantly reminding them about assignments, projects, grades going in, etc. Unfortunately a lot of their current report card grades are going to reflect this careless attitude.

    Perhaps changing around your seating arrangement could also help? Are the kids too comfortable with who they are sitting next to? Is it time to move from small groups to rows or vice versa? Maybe they can be assigned some projects to work on in groups or pairs, which will give them the opportunity to do some socialization, but also put pressure on each other to be concerned about their grade?

    I hope things get better! This can be a really hard time of the year, but don't give up! Good luck!!
     
  14. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2010

    I had a similar experience long-term subbing 8th grade history. There was a culture of chaos in 2 of my 5 periods, and the other 3 were challenging due to a string of subs and no continuity.

    Anyway. Aliceacc gave you excellent advice. It took me about 3 weeks to control the chaos in my 2 difficult periods - with the help of the Dean. I know what you mean when there are so many misbehaving that it's hard to choose just who to send out of class.

    Start the "head above water policy". Tell the students that the classroom is now like a lake, and whoever sticks their head above the water first will be targeted. This is their one warning. Have your dean referrals fillled out and ready each period. Tell the Dean your plan, and keep track of who you send to his office. Tell the students that you are keeping track so you can check to see if they report.

    Also, ask the Dean if he will visit during your most difficult periods as a deterrent. This worked wonders for me.

    Another note - as you know, 2 or 3 kids can set the tone for the entire class - then the rest of the class follows. But, I found that equally targeting the followers get results, too. They are more likely to quickly modify their behavior if one of them is referred to the Dean. If it's always the leader that gets sent out, the other kids feel they have permission to keep their buzz going. And, the leaders often get a rush out of being the bad guy, so they continue to act out no matter what.

    And, you may want to make them line up quietly before entering and start your dean's referrals right there. This is another time you can ask the dean to do walk-bys.
     

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