My kids are taking control.

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by BGboothA, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. BGboothA

    BGboothA Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2008

    I am a first year teacher with both 7th and 8th grade classes. The year started off great, but lately its like the kids are taking over the room. They talk non-stop, shout out across the room and just drive me overall crazy.......I have only been teaching for a few months and I am ready to look in the classifieds section.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 21, 2008

    Your kids can only take control of your classroom if you allow it.

    Can you describe your classroom rules and your discipline plan?
     
  4. BGboothA

    BGboothA Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2008

    Well, classroom rules are pretty simple and straightforward.

    1. Be respectful.
    2. Be On-Time
    3. Follow Directions.

    Discipline plan.
    --> Warning (verbal)
    --> 1 Min after class (loss of passing period time)
    --> 2 Min After class (loss of passing period time)
    --> Lunch Detention
    --> Phone Call home
    --> Office Referal with lunch detention or ISS

    And yeah I know that I am probably allowing this to go on, and it has just gotten out of control....I am just not sure on how to get back in control.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 21, 2008

    Is that a school-wide plan or just yours? How much does the administration back up teachers at your school?
     
  6. BGboothA

    BGboothA Rookie

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    Its mine....the school doesn't really have a standard set of rules and discipline plans.

    The administration is really great about having our back.
     
  7. jsfowler

    jsfowler Companion

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    Feb 21, 2008

    I would move "call home" to the top of the list. I did not discover how well this worked until my 5th year teaching. I realize it takes time but it really does save instructional time in the long run.
     
  8. BGboothA

    BGboothA Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2008

    Calling home seems to work with only a small amount of students. I teach in a strong inner-city low SES school, where parent involvement is nearing comedic levels.

    The fact is, I am not able to get a hold of any parents whom I need to talk to. I try and try but rarely do I talk to someone, and when I do, they are often less than helpful. This is a problem we are running into as a team and I am assuming school wide.
     
  9. mustang sally

    mustang sally Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2008

    I had the same problem. I had to make examples out of a couple of students. Misbehavior and disrespectful disappeared. I hated to write these students up, but it had to be done.
     
  10. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Feb 21, 2008

    You should read some of my previous threads about my seventh graders. I have to say, though, I have put on my mean face the last couple of days. Can I go the bathroom? No. I left my book in my locker. Can I go get it? No. Can I turn this work in late? No. Detentions. Yes. Three pages of homework. Yes. They have been much better. I think hindsight I made some crucial mistakes. I needed to spend much, much, much more time with routines at the beginning of the year (see Fred Jone's website and book for more information about this). I just assumed too much. And then frankly, I was too nice to them. I am now working under the rule discipline first, instruction second. If you let certain behaviors slide so that you can continue with the lesson you have sent the message that those behaviors are okay. And then they start to escalate.

    On the flip side, my 8th graders got to play a really cool spelling game. When the 7th graders hear about it they will positively drool. I will let them work towards earning the chance to play it next week. In fact, one of my high school Spanish students stopped by to get some papers when I was playing the game with my students and he left a note on my desk that said, I wish you had been my English teacher. :)
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I'd not worry so much about the rules and discipline plan and worry a lot about teaching procedures and expectations. And don't just teach them at the beginning of the year and forget about it.

    Teach, teach, and reteach. Reteach whenever they don't do what you need them to do. Reteach after a break . . . including a weekend. I've spent SOOOOO much time on reteaching lately because we've missed 10 days for snow! The kids forget everything they know.

    Always teach procedures that are stricter than you really want. It's easy to let them "earn" their way to a more flexible plan, but it's darned near impossible to get tougher on them without them crying "unfair" on you.
     
  12. mustang sally

    mustang sally Rookie

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    Teaching these kids would be much easier IF parents would get on board. Last week a child came into my classroom. Before unpacking or anything, she informed me she had to go to the nurse. I asked why. She said she had been vomiting at home. Head scratch here. Why did your Mom send you to school if you are sick? She said b/c I would take care of her.
     
  13. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    I felt the need to reassert control with a class a few weeks ago. We had gotten too chummy, which I didn't realize until kids kept chatting throughout a quiz even after I reminded them to be quiet. So I let it continue and jotted down a few notes so I wouldn't speak too long or forget anything. The key was not to cede control due to lack of preparation or being thrown for a loop by a question or challenge.

    I waited for the quiz to be finished, then announced in a controlled voice that I had asked them to be quiet and that if they had continued talking, they knew who they were. I explained why they must remain quiet during quizzes--because it's too hard to concentrate, because it's a cheating concern. I assured them that I would always let them know the minute everyone was finished and that no one in their class took a particularly long time, so it wasn't fair to act like it was time to move on. (just heading off any objections here)

    "I asked you to be quiet, and you didn't listen. You know who you are. I didn't ask you again. I don't play that game. If that were how it worked, I'd spend our entire class period saying, 'You really have to be quiet. No, for real this time. No really.' Uh uh. So if you were talking, you got a zero on the quiz. If you want me to grade your quiz, you can write me a one page paper about why you shouldn't talk during a quiz." At this point, a boy who had obviously been talking asked if he was one of the people who had been talking (duh). So I said, "You can stay after class if you'd like to know. We've spent enough class time on this."

    I had never yelled at this class, so I was a little afraid they just wouldn't listen. But they did. I think the key was that I was rational (explaining why they must be quiet and why I won't ask them again), I wasn't upset in an out of control kind of way, and I acted like I knew they would listen to me or else (even if I wasn't sure deep down).

    Have you ever seen Super Nanny? :) It is never too late to establish control and routine. Kids want you to be the adult. Most of them only act out of control if they can get away with it. Don't beat yourself up if that's what's happening . . . it's probably like my class, just getting too chummy. I think if you just assert yourself as the authority without being frazzled or angry, they'll shape up. Just pretend it's the end of Super Nanny where you're the parent that is setting boundaries and following through and everything is sunshine and butterflies and laughs.

    I don't know if this applies to you, but from what I've observed, a classic new(er) teacher mistake is the fear to follow through. You don't know what you would do if you said, ok, enough is enough, get out in the hall (or whatever), and the kid just didn't do it. You should rent the mockumentary Chalk for a good example. The key is to remain calm and in control and assured that there is always a next step no matter what happens. "Billy, I'm asking you to step into the hall so you can cool down. If you can't do that for me, I'm going to have to call the office. Can you please come outside with me?" Just every step of the way, be calm, have a rationale, but don't back down.

    I had a showdown with a kid like this at the beginning of this year. He wouldn't wake up, so I told him he had to wake up or go in the hall, and he threw a little fit and refused to do either, which made me look like an idiot (or so I felt) because I didn't call the office to haul away this honors sophomore. So that seemed like it backfired, right? But then I contacted his mom and explained that this was pretty awful behavior but that I think he was just adjusting to school that year and maybe feeling out of place and I knew he was a good kid at heart, yadda yadda yadda. And now he's my best bud! He wants to take the elective I teach next year!

    And the rest of the class got a little snarky the first week or two, probably because they saw that I lost the go out in the hall battle, but after I befriended the kid and purposely missed their snarky comments and pretended (apparently convincingly) that I thought they loved my class, they really did. Now they're one of my favorite classes. You just have to use some pop psychology on them, even if it seems silly. They had no reason to come into my class hating it. They were just scared by my summer reading assignment, and some of them had their own issues (the hall kid is an athlete and I think feels like he should be a in a lower class, not honors with all the artsy creative kids), and then they thought I was uppity teacher who would order you out in the hall and then not even succeed in getting you there. So it took a little work to turn that around.

    Really, it's never too late.
     
  14. BGboothA

    BGboothA Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2008

    Wow thanks for some great advice.

    I know my main problem is probably following through. I do a lot of threatening but not enough following through. I really started to think about what I was doing different in the beginning of the year, back when I was having success with a couple of my 'trouble' classes. And I came to the conclusion that I have strayed away from what I know. I think I have given up somewhat on one of my classes.
     
  15. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Feb 22, 2008

    Well, I wouldn't listen to someone I knew would make idle threats either. Be firm and follow through and they'll fall back in line.
     
  16. ctmem

    ctmem Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Make being disciplined easier...

    When students step out of line in my classroom, they call home - immediately.

    I have a selection of scripts that they have to read.

    For example, when a student is disruptive, he/she calls home and says "Today I showed my teacher and the students in my classroom that you have not taught me respect. I would like to talk to you more about this when I get home."

    If a student does not turn in homework, they call home and say "I have not learned from you what it means to be responsible, and I will need you to help me develop a plan when I get home."

    The students make the call immediately, and in front of the classroom. I promise it will only take a time or two before the rest of the class falls into line.

    The have to understand that being well behaved is easier than the alternative.

    Visit my passion:
    www.teachersoffaith.com
     
  17. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    If my child called home reading one of those scripts, I would be livid! It would be only a matter of minutes before I was at that school and in the principal's office, outraged at the teacher!

    Having my child call home saying that I hadn't taught him to be respectful?

    I would be outraged, and wouldn't stop if I had to go all the way to the superintendent to register my outrage.

    I could go on here, but the point is, having a child call home and accuse their parent of not teaching them respect is OUTRAGEOUS!

    I'm sure you don't foster too many positive parent/teacher relationships by accusing them of being a bad parent!
     
  18. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Feb 23, 2008

    If I had my middle schools students call home with a script their parents would have my liver on a plate with some beans! Not that I don't call home, but they would be extremely upset if I dare implied that they did not teach their little angel respect etc. (although it may be true). And I can't say who cares what the parents think. In a small school district most of my students' parents are on the school board and they can and do get teachers fired. That is just the reality of the situation.
    As a parent, I would also be upset. My children never do get in trouble but if they did one day it would not be because I haven't taught them respect. Just my :2cents:
     
  19. ctmem

    ctmem Rookie

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    Why?

    I am interested to know why you would be upset with the educator because of your child's choice. I never said it was my belief about a parent, but rather the perception of the child's behaviors. Everything a child does reflects upon the parent. My personal children and my students understand the gravity of that implication.

    If a child is willing to be disrespectful, they need to feel the full ramifications of that decision. People judge each other when they make disruptive choices habitually. That peer pressure is one of the glues that helps hold a community together. If everyone is out of step except you (in terms of attitude and behaviors), then you are in need of a radical change of perspective, the community does not need to adjust to accommodate you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2008
  20. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Your scripts are not written to reflect that is was the child's choice to be disrespectful or forgetful. Your script states "you have not taught me respect." These are two very different statements. I would have no trouble with a "script" that stated my daughter made a choice to disrespectful and she would be held responsible for her choices. Teenagers make bad decisions sometimes even with the greatest parents - that's what makes them teenagers. By the time students have reached middle school, they need to be held accountable for their actions and not to lay blame with the parents. As a parent, I do not allow my kids to play the blame game and this is what this sounds like to me.
     
  21. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Your script says that it is the parent's fault because they failed to teach their child respect. The responsibility lies with the student who failed to make a good decision.

    I would have no problem with a script that said "I made a poor choice and did not show respect."

    I have a huge problem with a script that says "Mom/Dad YOU never taught me to be respectful."

    Many wonderful parents have children who occassionally make poor choices. It doesn't mean their parents failed to teach them something, only that the child failed to make the best choice.

    If you can't see the difference, nothing I say will help.
     
  22. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Well said!
     
  23. ctmem

    ctmem Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Thank You

    Thank you for clarifying your position. I understand where you are coming from now, and I appreciate your insight.

    The point isn't to blame-shift, although I can see your perspective. The point is to initiate discussion between the parent and the student. At my school, that is something that simply doesn't happen.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

    www.teachersoffaith.com
     
  24. Alisak5

    Alisak5 New Member

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    I was there a week ago and have an idea...

    At the end of thed first semester, I was pulling my hair out and was stressing out about how I was going to take control back. I went to my Vice Principal and she said to use an elementary strategy. She suggested that I use positive reinforcement by taping some goodies (tickets, food, gold cards, pencils, erasers) on the board for the students as motivational items. She also said to break the workload into bits instead of assigning hugs chunks! It has been working for a month- my students are eating it up!
     
  25. LA/FLnewbie

    LA/FLnewbie Companion

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    Feb 26, 2008


    Hi Budaka - could you pretty, pretty please share this awesome game with us? Or PM me if you think it's not related to this thread?

    I would really appreciate it -- I have a similar situation to yours and could really use something like this!

    :)
     
  26. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Sure, I am a sorry I didn't respond earlier. We played spelling football. I got this completely from Fred Jones' book. I drew a gridiron on the board. I just made mine have ten yards lines. I then had the recent winners from the spelling bee be the capital, which was totally cool. And then they got to pick their team members which was cool too because they were chose based on spelling abilities! Then I prepared ahead of time a list of words that were 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards, and 40 yards based on difficulty.

    I then picked a student from Team A. Lets call him Mark. So Mark picks a ten yard word and spells it correctly. So the football advances ten yards (I taped a paper football on a magnet and it stuck on my white board great!) Only Mark gets to spell the word. Then the next student gets to go, but they only have four downs to get a touch down. This forces some students to go for 20 or 30 yards questions. I also have bonus words for extra points.

    But lets say Mark doesn't spell the word correctly. If it is a ten yard question the other team can get a sack if they spell it correctly. For the sack the whole team can confer on the word but the capitan has to spell the word. If they get a sack the other teams goes back ten yards. If the word was 20/30/40 yards the other team can get an interception if they spell the word correctly and it is their ball.

    I gave all the kids extra credit based on how many points their team scored. My 8th graders loved it! My 7th graders only played about two minutes before they got out of control and didn't get to play.
     
  27. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    You are the teacher. You are in control. It is difficult because every teacher wants to be liked but I am glad you are starting to say no. Review your discipline plan What is meant by respect? What are they doing in class that shows respect? How are some students being disrespectful.I think you might want to shorten you list of consequences.Can you eliminate steps 2 and 3?Don't be afraid to carry out punishments. There should be consequences for both good and bad behavior.If the administration is really great, don't be afraid to use them as a last resort,just don't do it too often.
     
  28. Vegas Art Guy

    Vegas Art Guy Rookie

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    Those are too general IMHO. Of course as a sub I get to see the little 'darlings' at their worst many times. Here are my rules just so you can see how I do things. This is in addition to school and district rules.

    1. When I'm talking, nobody else does
    2. Nobody sleeps in class
    3a. Do not trash the room
    3b. Keep your hands feet & everything else to yourself
    3c. Respect the teacher(s)

    If they break those rules then I talk to them privately. Then it's detention, then it's a dean's referral.

    And if you threaten a consequence, then you MUST follow through. Otherwise you're dead meat. If the infraction is severe enough (cursing, fighting, insubordination etc.) then go right to a referral. Make sure you follow up with the dean's office to make sure it didn't take 20 minutes to get to their office and that the referral does not get lost along the way.
     
  29. koocat008

    koocat008 Companion

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    What works best for me as far as classroom management, is getting students into routines. Once they know what is expected of them, they seem to take responsibilty more so.

    I just had a "showdown" with a student for something as silly as asking her to put on her temp I.D. on correctly, and she refused to do it. It lead to a lot of wasted time, and I ended up giving her 2 detentions. I found though, that once my frustration boiled over, it was getting worse. So I made a conscious effort to be calm and almost too polite, and the problem handled itself.

    Last year, I had silent work for the whole 90 minute block because of of the classroom behavior. It seemed to get everyone back on track the followng day. Good Luck, eventually you'll figure out what works for you :)
     
  30. Starbks Junkie

    Starbks Junkie Rookie

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    Wow. This is such a great debate. I'm a high school teacher, but let's be honest - high schooler's are just overgrown middle schoolers. Sometimes I stand up in front of the classroom trying to get attention, and thinking to myself, "one against thirty ... yeah right." Then I laugh at myself for allowing them to get to me, and buckle them back down.

    BUT ... I LOVE the idea of making the children call home. I HATE those calls, and it really shows the students that they HAVE TO take control over their actions. While I do agree that the wording is a bit off (never accuse a parent of not doing his/her job ... as much as it may be true!), I really really like the concept. I'm all about personal responsibility. Despite the fact that it is the beginning of the fourth quarter, it really is never too late to regain control![/FONT][/COLOR][/FONT]
     
  31. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Usually I just have to say one particular word, and all the kids yell back and give me their undivided attention, most of them smiling.

    If they don't do what I ask we all end up going "Ohhhhh!" in a mighty groan together. Once we have done that a couple of times the other students in class begin to take an active roll in stopping the uncooperative ones in their tracks.

    If they do what I ask we all yell "Oh, Yeah!" together and they work hard to make that happen because of our reward system.

    I almost never have to say, "Come on now, get quiet everyone," or "Hush!" or "Listen up!" or any of that sort of thing. At the start of every class we set as a group, with a variety of volume levels, exactly how loud we will be for the day. If they get to loud I tell them a number, and they quieten down to an acceptable level.

    If one of the kids gets out of hand individually we step out in the hall and they do all the talking. It has to be a darned good talk or it ends up with them calling home.

    I used to be burned out, but now, while I love the weekends with my family, I actually look forward to seeing my students during the week.
     
  32. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Mar 7, 2008

    To original poster:

    Last year was my first year with my own class. You sound like you could be me last year. My year started out great and I loved my students and I was so happy, then about halfway through the year, things stared to fall apart. My year ended terribly and I used the summer to reflect on how I could avoid the situation this year. Looking back, I think my students sensed my uncertainty and when they really started to have me pegged, they used everything to their advantage. I have them again this year for one class but I have to say, the history followed and I had to start this year, strong and assertive to show them that I wasn't the pushover that I was last year. It has worked somewhat. I still have challenges with them that I don't experience with my new class, but for the most part, many of them have finally started respecting me, and I think the biggest reason is that I finally started demanding the respect and stopped putting up with the crazy nonsense they got away with last year.

    So my advice to you, from my own experiences in teaching grades 7/8...try to remain calm AND assertive at all times, don't back down, and look for opportunities to offer positive feedback (only when they absolutely deserve it, though). Don't be intimidated by their misplaced confidence. They really do respond if you can be consistent and keep your cool.
     
  33. CanadianTeacher

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    Just read this after I posted. I love the positive tone of the above. This would definitely be my style. I like that it's not babyish like some of the other methods that teachers try to use in 7/8. I think they respect the attempt at not treating them like little babies by doing silly things like raising one hand, turning out the lights, or counting down (not that those things are silly, but they really are beyond the 7/8 level and most find them laughable).
     
  34. TeachLittleOnes

    TeachLittleOnes New Member

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    I just love you!!!!! I would've done the same kind of thing. I don't like to repeat myself! They hear you, and if they don't listen, there are consequences, plain and simple. They learn to respect you that way. I equally feel the opposite... If you do well, you will be rewarded! There's always a cause and effect.

    You're right, it's never too late to get control of your class. So to the poster, try something new ("a one two punch") and make sure you follow through! Be consistent! Don't make idle threats. Prepare to hear the whining "Oh I'm sorry, I take it back" or "That wasn't me" or the "That isn't fair". Just ignore them and hand out the punishment they deserve for their actions.

    Feel good and not bad about it because they didn't get a punishment by being nice and sweet, they got it because of their own wrong doing. Good teachers teach children that the real world is made up of punishments for breaking rules. You're preparing them for the future. As an adult, you can whine about a parking ticket all day and you still have to pay it 'cause you parked in the no parking zone!
     
  35. nocci01

    nocci01 New Member

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    Mar 7, 2008

    I have to start by laughing...I was a horrible student in middle school and high school...I was probably the worse one for any teacher to handle. This may sound funny, but I recommend reading a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie or attending a seminar by Dani Johnson. She teaches you about the 4 languages that most people speak. If you know your students language, you'll have success.

    Don't let kids drive you crazy! They love to test adults. Discipline them...send them to the principal's office...that's what happened when I got in trouble...LOL!

    By the way, Dale Carnegie's book is about $10 and it will change your life! Apply those principles and people will respond to you a whole lot better.

    Thanks,
    Nam
    Motivational Speaker/Educator
     
  36. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Mar 7, 2008

    The framework is simple to set up, and easy to establish consistently. My kids love it. I must admit there is one drawback- my team mates complain that my kids are complaining to them because my class is a lot more fun than theirs are:lol:!

    Feel free to PM me for more information.
     
  37. beckywithasmile

    beckywithasmile Rookie

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    Mar 19, 2008


    At the beginning of a class how do you decide what the noise level will be? Do you have them already defined or do you just let the kids make that level of noise?

    I like this idea, but I'm really unsure how to implement it.
     
  38. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2008

    You can work the noise level to whatever is comfortable with you. I start with the kids very loud. I want them to blow off some steam! It leaves them more settled and cooperative for class.

    As you put your hand over each level you can motion the level up or down with your other hand. Over the course of about a week you will find that their noise levels become pretty consistent as they remember the levels they have used before.

    I calibrate everyday. The kids love it. They remind me to do it if I forget.

    You will have days from time to time that they creep up in noise level, even after you have warned them. I tell them they have three strikes to keep it down or we drop to scale 0 and work individually in their seats. It works great!
     

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