Management Becoming Ineffective...Help Please

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by roxstar, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 15, 2011

    So this is my first year teaching middle school (I teach 6th grade math and taught 3rd grade last year). Up until the last month my management has been pretty effective. I have been complimented for this many times by my administrators and from the coaches that are constantly in and out of the room from the state (we are an N8 title one school.) I have even felt confident posting on this site and giving others advise on their management.

    So lately I feel like I am completely losing control of my 6th period class...and sometimes 2nd period. I just don't know what to do about it! I use a group incentive system where students earn time to use about once a week to play games ( always academic math games but they seem to think I am doing them a favor!) It works REALLY well with my other classes.

    It is about 5 or 6 kids in both of these classes that are causing the problems and I can't seem to get them under control. They come into the room and talk instead of doing their warm-up. They talk during instruction. They blurt out during instruction which really kills me. One will shout something out, which makes another say something then another, then another... I have had private conferences, moved seats, called parents, given detention, but nothing seems to be working. For their warm-up I have started collecting it at the end of the week and giving participation grades and they still don't care. The attention they are getting from their peers for the behavior seems to be way more of an incentive than anything I have tried.

    Understand that I have about zero parental support, though most of them would like to help I think if they knew how. My students are 97% Hispanic with parents who speak little to no English and work 2-3 jobs so they are not around to help reinforce at home.

    It is the worst feeling when I am trying to explain something and the blurting out snowball gets rolling. I understand how to use proximity to stop undesired behavior, but when it is happening all around me ( seemingly) I start to feel overwhelmed and don't know how to handle it.

    What do you all do when you start to lose control of the class? I hate to admit that that is what is happening sometimes. What do you do when you have a handful of immature kids...lets be honest, mostly boys...that are out of control?

    Thanks so much for your help!!!!:)
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 16, 2011

    Is this something that is occurring because of the up and coming break? My class was very chatty yesterday because they are so excited for winter break. However, they were easy to wrangle back in...

    One thing that I have tried when I had a few students like this, is to put the ring leader on an individual incentive. So maybe choose the top two students with these behaviors and give them their own incentive plan. They can compete against everyone in the class or their table individually to earn the game time (or whatever you decide). Then let them pick a friend or two if they earn it.
     
  4. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 16, 2011

    I like the positive approach. I think it has intensified because of break, but is definitely something I am lacking because it has been growing for about a month. Thanks so much for the thought.
     
  5. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 16, 2011

    When things begin to unravel later in year it is usually kids retesting just to make sure you are the same person today as you were the first weeks of school.

    Call-out problems can usually be traced to a discussion where a student (or more) did not raise hand and, trying to keep the discussion lively and not stifle a good idea, the teacher may overlook the student's digression into not following rules. A bump in the rules does not go unnoticed by students. As you have observed once it starts others need to test to find out limits.

    Question:

    What is the fist thing you do when a student calls out?
     
  6. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 17, 2011

    That makes a lot of sense. I had to laugh after reading your final question. What is the first thing that I do...the look of death :lol: I know that would be enough if 5 kids didn't immediately follow with their own inappropriate comment. I think that I am so focused on not stopping class that I ignore more than I should. I also try to be respectful with my discipline( never yelling someone's name across the room etc) , but I think the other believe there is no consequence for what is happening. Perhaps I should have APOS slips (when a student is removed to another classroom) or detention slips already made and when the first kid does it, quietly walk over and hand it to him and then repeat as they all start to blurt? I haven't done that in the past because I was afraid of starting the class off with a preconceived expectation of misbehavior, but it might work...? Any thoughts?
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2011

    Can you have a class meeting on Monday? Tell them that while discussion of content is sometimes helpful, what as been going on is not productive and is hurting the learning of other students. Explain that only raised hands will be acceptable from now on and that you WILL at your discretion use the APOS forms. Then do it. They'll get the point.
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 18, 2011

    Are you out on break yet? When you go back after the break, spend a little time reminding students of the rules. Let them know that you expect more now that you are halfway through the year.

    What I have done with using the forms, is I drop one off on a students desk or hand it to a student. If the student still has the form at the end of class, it just gets recycled (they learned from their mistake). However, if the behavior continues, I collect the form and then it goes into the system.
     
  9. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 18, 2011

    Ignoring works if you can control peer reinforcement, in this case the others snickering and chiming in. Once you ignore the whole class thinks, "Did you see that? Name did whatever and nothing happened. I can't wait to try it too!"

    Stop instruction. Make sure students are aware you just switched from instruction to discipline. No half-baked gestures or half turns. It's turn fully and face class. Your body needs to say the most important thing in this class right now is that behavior. If you don't commit fully it's a mixed message - I sorta' want to stop that but I really want to teach too. The "turn" needs to be ever so slow, a lot slower than most are used to. Quick movements signal upset. Time yourself at home. See if you can turn 180 in six seconds. When most first try it's about three seconds. Three seconds is the difference between "Let's be friends" and "I mean business".
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2011

    I was always told that during this time (couple of weeks before the break) is when students become restless, and classroom management may become challenging. And the answer I always got was to come down on them hard, don't let things slide, because everything could get out of control.
    I always thought that it's not only because of the upcoming break, but also because it's been about 4 months of school, and all that discipline sort of wears off, maybe the students relax a bit, etc.
    Well, it's definitely the break and the holidays. I work at a juvenile detention, so the school year doesn't start in August. Well, on paper it does, but we get student all year round, so it's not the length of time in school, it is the holidays coming up. (especially for them it's hard, because they don't get to see their parents).
    I actually relaxed a bit, because that's what most teachers do at the school. We're teaching a thematic unit of 'Holidays around the world', and I didn't make it as rigorous as usually, and I definitely saw the difference in the first day.
    So I had to be very strict with classroom rules and discipline, and until I did that (2 days after) things were a bit chaotic.
     
  11. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 18, 2011

    Thanks everyone. Great ideas that I think will really help. I think it also helped for me to just get it out :) By the way, I feel the need to say that I totally see the typo in my title, and though I have edited it twice, it won't change!!
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 18, 2011

    Often "just getting it out" does really help, roxstar. Hugs to you.

    And the typo's fixed.
     
  13. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Dec 19, 2011

    I would definitely use the skills that you know and I would separate the behavior issues. I would contact your ESL coordinator and work on getting a translator to help you communicate with the parents of students that are giving you the most trouble. Hispanic parents are very willing to support the teacher and hold the teacher in high regard ~ if they are aware of the situation. I would start an easy behavior system that parents can look for when the child comes home as to how their day went. Check for on task. Check minus for some disruptions, and an X for many disruptions. If you can get the kids to focus, your classroom time will be more beneficial to not only teaching but also, to learning. Get those parents onboard.
     
  14. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 26, 2011

    I agree that most of my Hispanic parents are on board. They care about their kids' education, but the reality is that many of them are so poor that they are working several jobs and they don't have the ability to monitor their kids. I am also finding that the boys kind of rule the roost...obviously an over generalization but common. I am going to take your advice for implementing a behavior plan of some sort. I didn't think of that at first. I think this will help with the parents that I have been able to speak to that say ok, I will take care of it but nothing changes. Perhaps they just don't know how.

    THanks for the advice!
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Dec 26, 2011

    Sometimes it is very hard to get parents to fully support not because they don't want to but because they are truly exhausted. Plus, many parents believe that the children should be more independent by sixth grade and don't check on their child the way that they used to in younger grades.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 26, 2011

    We also have to remember that we learn how to deal with students in the credential program (teaching our expectations, setting limits, consequences and then enforcing them), but parents do not learn these, unless they studied education or a related field.

    When my daughter was in elementary school, we had a hard time. I was a single parent, (working, tired) and I had the mind set that 'I control my child at home, you, the teacher control my child at school. Don't call me for help, you're the professional!' (this is the attitude of the parents in Europe, and honestly, there is nothing wrong with it ;) and by the way, if anyone has students from the Middle East, you can bet their parents are thinking this way, too). I didn't know that schools do not operate under this belief here, and this is where my problem was.

    The teachers would put my daughter on a 'contract, so when she came home, it would have a sad face, straight face or smiley face on it. And then they assumed I would pick up from there. Sure, I had talks with her, and took away some privileges. But it would have worked better, if I would have know to set up a reward / consequence system, a reward for X amount of good days, another reward for XX amount of good days, etc, consequences, etc. and consistently enforced them.
    I didn't know until one teacher talked to me about this, but it wasn't until much later.

    So we can't assume that the parents will continue our system, give rewards / consequences, etc. and stay consistent with it.
     
  17. AFine

    AFine Rookie

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    Feb 11, 2012

    As someone experiencing the same struggle in a few of my class periods, I loved reading all of the advice. This is such a great community to come to!
     

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