My class is!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by teachnicks, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. teachnicks

    teachnicks New Member

    Sep 7, 2019
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    Sep 7, 2019

    Hi! I am a 4th grade teacher in her 18th year. I’m experienced with all types of student needs, learning types, and issues. However, I am thrown for a loop this year. I have 23 students in my class. 14 of those students have severe ADHD All are medicated, 4 have IEPs, 2 also have OCD, 3 BD, and 3 with major trauma. By 1pm my classroom is bouncy off the walls! Math starts at 2:30 (which I cannot change) when it is nearly impossible to keep their attention. I have 1 para a couple of times during the day. We are only 2 and a half weeks in and I’m exhausted!! HELP!!! How do I manage this???
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  3. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Jun 14, 2013
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    Sep 8, 2019

    You say this cannot change but I have to ask about it. Is that due to school schedule? This is an awful time to have math, especially if you have an active class.

    Can you take them out for recess for 10 minutes directly before math time?
    Backroads and Tired Teacher like this.
  4. talknteach

    talknteach Rookie

    May 27, 2016
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    Sep 8, 2019

    I completely hear you. How long is math? Can you take a break halfway through- snack break, small recess, movement, etc?

    You could also try telling them: this is what we are going to do today in math and write them on the board (maybe 3 things- warm up, geometry lesson, geometry workbook page, for example). IF we get through these by such and such time, you can have math app time on a device? Or math game time? Then as the year goes on, wean them off the game time unless it is a particularly hard day?
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

    Jul 31, 2019
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    Sep 8, 2019

    It sounds like you got my last yr's class minus the mood disorders and most of my ADHD were not medicated. I am not a sped teacher. I am so very sorry! It happens to the best of us. It was the hardest class I have probably had in close to 30 yrs. 1/2 of those yrs were in 4th grade too. I had 2 runners, a kicker, head bangers, on the floor tantrums, cursers, and a desk thrower .
    1st I am wondering if any of the med schedules are off. A couple of mine did not take their meds until 1-2 because their parents wanted them to be better at home for a couple hours. I noticed a big change in 2 of them at about noon many days. I talked to 1 of the parents about having the nurse give her kid meds an hour earlier. Right after they ate and before recess. Sometimes I called parents who had forgotten to give their kids their morning meds. I am kind of anti med too, but these kids never should have been put in a general ed classroom. I think some of the meds may cause some bad side effects. 1 of mine had Tourette's last yr too. ( Oh, the noises he made, often!)
    I learned a lot last yr as a teacher. I came close to quitting even. 1 mistake I made was I assumed since they were so hyper, it'd be good to do more brain breaks than normal. I figured movement was important because of their energy levels and had most in groups to practice/ get instruction and moving to different centers in the room. Some lost their privileges often. I usually let them start over the next day. They were all on such different academic levels. Movement and peer interaction actually made them worse.
    2:30 is an awful time for math, but it seems you can't change it.

    The teacher who has them this yr is doing a decent job w/ them using a whole different approach than I did. She did have the advantage of a head's up on what doesn't work because we are good friends. We'll see if it lasts, but I am impressed that she has fewer behavior problems than I did. I have always had good classroom management before last
    This may sound horrible, but it works to keep extreme behavior problems in better check. Instead of doing regular math groups, she has given each 1 a math workbook on their grade level and challenged them to do as much as they can on their own.
    She even has a much bigger class than you or me, but she got a reliable teen to grade workbooks and seatwork 5 days a wk.
    Some of the real difficult ones are competitive as all get out. She uses that to her advantage. If they get stuck, she runs around and teaches the same concepts individually. They stay seated. ( less movement/ transition)
    She does not seat them in groups. The ones who disrupt the most are sitting in strategic positions. She sends some of them back to me once in awhile too when she needs a break. She deescalates situations at times, but still makes it very clear what is and is not acceptable.
    Also, she gives them a bunch of seat work. If they get it done, they can do math on their laptops in game form at the end of the day or choose an activity they like that is not disruptive.. She keeps them busy, busy, busy and seated! ( no centers for this group....)There is not a lot of discussion or movement.
    Is it an ideal way to teach math? No, but at least none have run off , called her bad names, kicked or thrown chairs yet. She is keeping her sanity even if she is not as happy as last yr. There are yrs when I think the goal is survival. I would have gotten voted off the island early last Good luck! I hope you are in a school that allows you to teach in a way that works best for you and your unusual class.
    Backroads likes this.
  6. Surviving the Classroom

    Surviving the Classroom Rookie

    Sep 8, 2019
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    Sep 8, 2019

    Hi there :)

    Hang in there and try not to give up! I know it's overwhelming because it's all a new type of experience. It will take you having to test a few strategies that will work best for you and your students.

    Here are a few ideas that came to mind...

    Chunk Lesson into Parts: Identify how many minutes each teachable chunk will be.
    Explicit teaching for the entire block will often not work for students with ADHD. I was able to get away with chunking my lessons for longer time frames in the morning compared to the afternoon. Lengthen these chunks overtime as students become more disciplined. I was able to start at 15 minute chunks, work my way up to 30 minute chunks, and by the end of the year the students were able to work an entire math block. I should also mention that by incorporating fun math games, you can easily get kids interested in working a little longer. :)

    Offer incentives: what are your students willing to work for? is it a break? Breaks are often needed for students with adhd. Perhaps you can offer some sort of break incentive for the whole class? You may want to present some ideas and then you meet them in the middle with what you can realistically offer.

    BUT, before you offer incentives, you should....

    Identify behaviors to target - Write down a list of behaviors you would like the students to do during this time. Choose 1-2 behaviors you would like them to model to earn access to this break or fun activity. Since your system is new, you may not want to overwhelm them with a handful of behaviors up front. They may become to overwhelmed. Besides, you will need time to access your new system to see what works and what doesn't. If choosing two, chose one that is super easy and one that might be slightly challenging.

    Create a visual behavior tracker: Display a large visual chart for students to see their progress towards this behavior. To make it easy, you may want to start with the entire class. I find that they will often motivate one another to gain access to a very appealing incentive. You can create a T-chart and label it "teachers" and "students". You can give students a point every time they are modeling the behavior and/or working towards the behavior. You give yourself a point when someone is not quite modeling the behavior. make the target behaviors visual via words or images. This helps to serve as reminders. You may not want to be super strict in the beginning. Again, when it's new, you are still getting student buy in. You may want to give one warning for redirection and a small reminder of the behavior chart before becoming firm. Allow a few days for practice and then become super firm. Let students know in advance when you will be firm with rules.

    This will not work successfully if:

    > you give too many warnings before holding students accountable. Students will start to believe you will not hold them accountable and thus will continue the behavior.

    > you score points against them for spontaneous behaviors that are not part of your original behavior plan. This will confuse and frustrate them. If the spontaneous behavior is a problem, this is where you have to create a different plan of action.

    > you are not consistent with implementing.

    > you are super strict in the beginning. Firm, yes, but super strict, not just yet. If students see that your side of the t-chart has 20 points and they only have 2, they will not start to buy in to program. You want to be Santa Claus up front, super giving. :)

    Timer: If you are going to chunk you lessons into smaller segments, display a timer in your class for all to see.

    I hope this is helpful. Don't worry, you will find a way. That's what teachers who are several years into the game do best. You got this.
  7. Michelle

    Michelle Rookie

    May 20, 2019
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    Sep 11, 2019

    For those with students with IEPs - are you not getting any classroom support from a SpEd teacher or assistant / para in the classroom ?
  8. wendy 31

    wendy 31 Rookie

    Jun 2, 2009
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    Sep 14, 2019

    Your class is similar to mine. I teach fourth grade this year. I do a take on math workshop. I do number talks whole class, 5-10 minutes. My resource students leave for a 15 minute pull out; the rest of the class plays fluency games or activities. During this time I meet with those that struggled on the previous lesson. When SPED returns, my class is split into two groups. The strugglers get the math lesson first, 25 minutes, while the stronger students are on our district math site and doing enrichment practice from the previous lesson. Then they switch. The strugglers have the option of sitting through the math lesson a second time. In the last two years, I've had a few students that often sit through the lesson twice.

    The students with me sit in the first two rows. The other students are in the back of the room on the floor. The strugglers get more think time without feeling the pressure of the fast thinkers. The second lesson is only 15-20 minutes because they tend to go faster. The groups are fluid. I base it on previous math tests, participation, and math work completion.

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