Need help or a straitjacket. Very long.

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Dedicated, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    I have lost the battle for discipline with my 8th grade classes. (I teach 6th & 7th grades also, but I have more control with them.) I am a first year teacher working at a largely hispanic & black inner city school with a new principal. There is a tremendous school wide discipline problem. The other teachers agree that the students are out of control though some veteran teachers (core subject) seem to be doing OK. (To illustrate how bad conditions are:the newly appointed principal and her 2 VPs are leaving by the end of this year.) I am told many teachers leave each year.
    Most of my students simply refuse to do the work I assign. The 8th grade curriculum consists of careers and relationships. I tried rewards, but it is clear they have simply taken over. They don't care to work toward any reward because they do what they please anyway. Many are loud, rude and foul mouthed. They sit wherever they want even though I have tried to maintain a seating chart. They are bullies. If I give them the grades they deserve, I would be failing 2/3 of the class. They tell me my class doesn't matter, it's "boring" or "too hard".
    Yesterday, two students (one who does do the work and one who doesn't ) told me other classes are fun and mine is not. I've tried to come up with engaging lessons, but so far have not found anything that works. There is no such thing as class discussion (I can't get them quiet), they refuse to participate in activities I've planned. I can't begin to describe how bad the situation is.
    Every 6 weeks I get a new cycle of students and it's always ends up the same. My classes are mixed ability and are behind educationally. Many have trouble reading and each class has a few ESL students. (Oddly, the students who are doing the best in my classes range from the lowest to the highest abilities).
    My administration deals with only the worst behavior since they are overwhelmed. I am told to handle it in my classroom. Calls home have helped very little. The parents are tired of getting called. The kids are used to detention and that doesn't seem to help either. In reality, I can't keep up with the consequences I set up with my class rules. They have me spinning and they know it.
    Common advice from the other teachers has been to dumb it down, give lots of worksheets and word searches. These kids are so far behind as it is. I hate to sucumb to that.
    I apologize for the lengthy post but I am ready to crack. If you can't offer advice, it's OK. Thanks for allowing me to vent.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Whew. Is this a public school? Is it specialized for at-risk kids? Well, if I had to deal with this, and couldn't effect change with the classes, then I would quit. And I wouldn't feel too bad about it, either.

    On the other hand, there are a few more things you could try. There is an interesting charter school in my county where the kids report to school as if it is work, they clock in, they get paid a very small wage (no, I know you can't do that part), each day they are there, they get a raffle ticket, and a winner is selected each week (they get money).

    Students may work on the computer with assistance toward a GED. Additionally, they must choose one area of work emphasis - either carpentry or graphic design. The school has all the equipment it needs (expensive stuff) for both tracks. The carpentry students learn all except electrical and plumbing. They actually built several houses. The graphic design kids work on real contracts for sign work. They do all the work and install their products. Contracts come from local municipal and business entities.

    If you use that concept, perhaps you could come up with some form of business that your students could participate in, on a smaller scale. It could be a retail business, food supply, plant service, etc. You would have to plan in advance, of course, so it wouldn't help this year, but it is a thought.

    Do you plan to return next year? You simply must have the school or district's support or it might not be feasible. What is the point of teaching if you don't get the chance to teach? It sounds clear from your post that traditional consequences don't work.

    What does everyone else think?
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 19, 2008

    The school described here sounds a lot like my school. One huge difference is that we have a supportive administration, while it sounds like you don't. And that spells trouble for you. :(

    All is not lost yet, though. You can and should be handling most issues in your classroom unless and until the behavior escalates to the point where it becomes too dangerous or disruptive. Can you describe your discipline plan a little more? I know you've mentioned that you've tried rewards, detentions, and phone calls home. You said that a seating chart doesn't really work. You mentioned that the problems have been that there's waaay too much talking, profanity, and attitude. Yes?

    Okay. So, in my classroom I use a progressive discipline plan. Basically, each time the student commits and offense, there is some associated consequence. On a first offense, the student and I have a chitchat privately, away from other students, either at my desk or in the hallway. I don't call the student out in front of his peers because many students in this sort of setting see that as a challenge, and it often makes the behavior worse. Here's a sample of what the conversation usually looks like:

    Me: Do you know why I asked you to come out into the hallway just now?
    Student: No.
    M: Really? You have no idea why I asked you out here?
    S: Well, probably because I was throwing paper.
    M: Okay. And?
    S: Well, I said the F-word, but what had happened was--
    M: Hold up. Before we get to that part, first let me know whether throwing paper and using profanity are allowed in my classroom.
    S: I don't know. I guess not.
    M: Are they allowed anywhere in the school?
    S: I don't know. I guess not.
    M: Okay. So tell me why you thought it was appropriate to throw paper and use the F-word.
    S: What had happened was... (blah blah blah).
    M: So, because (blah blah blah), you thought it would be okay to break the rules in my classroom?
    S: *shrugs*
    M: So when you do something like that, when you break the rules in my classroom, how do you suppose I take that? Does it make you seem like a responsible student?
    S: Not really.
    M: What could you have done to look like a responsible, respectful student?
    S: (This part usually takes them a while, but I just wait for an answer.) I guess I shouldn't have thrown paper or used the F-word, but what had happened was--
    M: It doesn't matter what happened. If you are going to be in my classroom and be the responsible, respectful student I know you are, you need to make good choices. You're right, not throwing paper and not using the f-word would be better choices. You can also pull me aside to let me know when another student is bothering you, okay?
    S: I guess.
    M: So, it looks like you have two choices here. First, you can choose to make good choices and head back to class, do your work, and sit in your seat. Or, you can choose to go to the deans' office (or go to another place, away from peers), where you'll probably end up in some serious trouble. What's it going to be?
    S: I can go back to class.
    M: You understand that I expect appropriate behavior when you go back, right?
    S: Yeah.
    M: What are some examples of appropriate behavior?
    S: (Again, I sometimes have to wait for this one.) Doing my work, staying in my seat, not shouting.
    M: Sounds good. Now, keep in mind that if I notice you making any more bad choices, we have to move to the next step of the progressive discipline plan. I know you don't want that, and I don't want that either, okay?
    (back to class)


    This is the most important step, because I'm asking students to process and self-analyze. They have to come up with the "right" answer before they're allowed back into class--of course I'll guide them if they need it, but most students know how to act.

    Students get very uncomfortable when they are put on the spot like this. In the hallway, it's just him and me, so he can't hide behind bad behavior or his buddies.

    I adjust my tone depending on the severity of the behavior and on the particular student. Some students respond better to a smiley head-tilt "Come on! I know you can do better than that!", while others really need to hear the stern, severe teacher voice.

    Anyway, moving along.

    On a second offense, I call home and notify parents about the situation. This works as often as it doesn't work. Some parents are great at fixing the problem by the next day, and other parents don't care at all. I still make the phone call, keep it short and to the point, and move along.

    On the third and subsequent offense, I give a detention (rare--it's more work for me), remove privileges (students HATE when I confiscate their iPods, take away their hall pass privileges, or whatever), and/or change their seat. I have a desk right at the front of the room which I secretly (in my head) call the Bad Kid's Desk, and it's where I temporarily seat those students who have demonstrated that they can't make good choices while sitting near their peers.

    If I have to, I send the kid out. Hopefully your administration will be willing to address those issues once they know that you've literally done everything you can.

    Good luck to you! :)
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Oh, I should add a few things: (sorry I'm talking so much!)

    Don't be afraid to use the big words with your students. When they aren't listening to you, tell them that not listening is "insubordination" and that it violates school rules. Use descriptive and technical words and phrases like blatant disrespect, habitual truancy/tardiness, excessive and disruptive talking, academic dishonesty, etc. Of course, explain what those terms mean. Often for students when they hear "big" words like those, it scares them a little. Sometimes that's what they need.

    Also, don't permit students to call you out in front of their peers. Don't allow them to tell you that you're boring or that they don't have to listen to you or whatever. Sometimes that can trigger the rest of the class to turn on you, too, and then it's you against all of them--I'm sure you've encountered that situation before. You just have to address those sorts of very serious issues (insubordination, blatant disrespect) immediately, severely, and consistently.

    Maybe don't focus on trying to enforce all the rules right now (like gum-chewing, etc.). Rather, focus on the big ones which involve respect and setting a positive (or not negative) classroom atmosphere. When you get those things under control, you can tackle the smaller issues.
     
  6. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Cassie, that questions and answer simulation you posted is very mucy like the responsible thinking process we use in our district. The only difference is that every teacher uses it.

    Dedicated, you have the schedule and issues I had at the start of the year. SO I know exaclty how you feel! I wish I could give you adivice, but all I have for you is, hold your ground, give in once and all is lost. If you are worn down now and let them keep wearing you down, it will get even worse than it is now.
     
  7. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Thank you for your advice. I've bought (and read)tons of great books on classroom mgt. so I know what you are advising and it sounds as if you really have it down. I have instituted something very much like the above scenario, but I am not consistent because they usually have me so frazzled that I am overwhelmed. My plan works for me with my 6th graders and pretty much with my 7th graders. My 8th grade classes, however, will have not one culprit but 4 or more. I often get "but everyone else was doin it and you don't do nothin to them, you're picking on me" and then all hell breaks loose. I have brought a lot of it on myself I know. I will have 4 or 5 students demanding bathroom passes and others shouting out and demanding pencils, bandaids, to find their folder, give them a replacement worksheet, etc all while others are falling out of their seats, spilling out of the door, walking in late upending desks, talking nonstop, etc etc etc. I do sometimes end up shouting or just giving up in frustration. wldywall what changed for you?
     
  8. iSaint

    iSaint Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    I've tried to have discussions with my students, but they interrupt and yell back at me. At which time I walk off.
     
  9. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Cassie, I want you to know that I've printed out your response and I intend to repeat the steps like a mantra so I get it into my sieve of a brain. When I think back on things I realize I don't handle things consistently and maybe that is exactly the problem. I intend to make a strong effort to stand firm and I'll let everyone know how it goes tis coming week. Hopefully, I can salvage things.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 19, 2008

    You can definitely salvage things. Consistency is the key.

    I really understand the situation you describe. Many teachers at my school have classes exactly like yours. It's not because they're bad teachers or because they don't care or anything like that; it's usually just because they end up getting so frustrated. It is much easier (and more emotionally cathartic) to yell at kids when they're acting out than it is to take time away from the lesson and address behaviors with individual students. The thing is that yelling at kids or throwing up your hands and letting behaviors continue doesn't really solve anything in the long run, and you end up getting more frustrated than you were.

    In my opinion, good discipline and good classroom management involve only two things: you as the teacher remaining as consistent as the sunrise, and you doing your best to help students take responsibility for their own actions, behaviors, attitudes, and the consequences which will inevitably follow.

    Kids do occasionally behave inappropriately--that's just part of being a kid sometimes. You can't internalize their behavior, though. You can't be responsible for the choices they make. If they're going to tip over desks and punch each other, that's what they're going to do. What you can and must do, however, is make sure that they take ownership of the decisions they make. If they choose to flip over a desk, then they also choose to get detention/written up/whatever you're planning to do. The same thing goes for great behaviors too: if they're choosing to stay on task and get their work done, then they also choose to get rewarded in some very desirable way, such as getting a good phone call home/a sticker/some special thing that shows them that their good choices were noticed by you.

    I often compare a student's inappropriate behaviors to a sink full of dirty dishes. The dishes are dirty, smelly, and yucky, but that's just how they appear to the untrained eye. It won't matter if we just stand at the sink crying, yelling, and/or asking the dishes why they're dirty. They just are. It is our job to roll up our sleeves and get to work cleaning them up as best as we can. We might not get every bit of crustiness off, but we can certainly make them more presentable.

    It's usually best to keep a neutral affect (facial expression, tone of voice) when handling behavior issues. That way when we need to pull out the Stern Teacher affect, it carries more weight with the students.

    And don't be afraid to use the broken record technique. Often students will just give up the battle once they realize they aren't going to win (and in my opinion, you simply can't allow them to win those super important battles where your authority is questioned). If a kid calls you a B (which has totally happened to me) and refuses to sit in his seat, just put a neutral expression on your face and repeat, as many times as it takes: I'm sorry you're feeling that way. Please have a seat.... Please, take your seat.... Please, sit down.... Please, have a seat.... ad nauseam.

    They'll get it eventually. Hang in there. :)
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 19, 2008

    I work in an inner city middle school and know excatly how you might feel. Cassie is right on target. I lurked here for a long time before I started posting and cassie's advice about dealing with rough kids is always right on target. One of the things I've learned is to never ever ever raise your voice. These kids get yelled and screamed at by everybody around them and it has zero effect on them. Most likely, they're also being treated like know-nothing little chits, and I have found that treating them like intelligent, contributing humans (even when it's really hard for me to do so) works wonders with even the toughest kid.

    Good luck with everything.
     
  12. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Apr 19, 2008

    Cassie gave great advice. If you have been inconsistent (and it is easy to do when you are outnumbered!) then that is definitely where you should start. I also think that you could benefit from Fred Jones techniques, you can get a general idea from the articles at http://www.fredjones.com/Tools-for-Teaching/Tools-for-Teaching-main.html and then decide if you want/need to purchase anything.
     
  13. ddb23

    ddb23 Companion

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    Apr 20, 2008

    So far, great advice all around. Some of the things that I've learned in my few years....

    1) Kids are going to argue if arguing has ever changed the result of a situation. When you apply discipline, know what you want to apply and then apply it. If a kid argues, let them use their breath, but the discipline stands. If they argue their way out of it, then they are going to try that way every time.

    2) "Everyone else was doing it." Put it all back on them - you can't catch everyone, but the student was doing something wrong, so they take responsibility for that. Maybe tomorrow the other person will get in trouble. It's like speeding....

    3) Truly engaged students don't act up. An engaging lesson is one where the students are interested, challenged, and have the abilities to get the work done. A lot of times students can't see the bigger picture - what seems interesting to us doesn't quite hook them. Word searches will get boring fast and the students will go right back to doing what they did before. The trick is to get the students interested in challenging work. When they act up, they do so because they are bored and not using their brains. All they do is text each other about how bored they are. Try more active discussion groups (stolen and adapted from a college prep program): read a statement and have them move over to one side if they agree with it, the other if they disagree. Then have them begin to discuss why they moved; if they change their mind, they can move. If the class is too big, divide into an inner and outer circle and have one group observe.


    Good luck - hang in there!

    db

    forgot to add - "What had happened..." a classic line....
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2008
  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Apr 21, 2008

    If the "but you let them do it!" argument is working that means you are being too public with your discipline. As was said if you deal with these issues privately you'll get much further.

    In a one on one conversation simply stating "I apologize because I must have done something to offend you for you to treat me that way" can do wonders. You will catch the kids off guard by saying that even more so than the "What did you do wrong?" approach which many kids have learned to game.

    As far as admin support goes, I'd send those 4-5 kids out of your room every day until admin does something about it. Most schools have a classroom suspension policy - use it. You aren't giving up on the 5 problem kids, you are showing the other 25 that they matter and deserve to learn in an appropriate environment.

    Again, if you do these things publicly you'll lose. They will save face by pretending they wanted to get in trouble or wanted to get kicked out. Take them outside, explain to them the situation and send them away. You'll come back to a silent classroom. It is very important that you use that opportunity to show your humanity to those kids who are still in class. Break the silence, have some fun, BE YOURSELF. They'll appreciate it.
     
  15. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 21, 2008

    The "but you let (insert name of another student) do it" line is so common you pretty much have to just ignore it. When my students tried to pull that on me (notice the past tense...they figure out real fast that it only gets them in more trouble), I usually just glare and tell the student in front of me, usually in the hallway, that each situation is unique and I will not discuss what happened with so and so to you, just as I will not discuss what happens here with any other student. It usually ends the argument.
     
  16. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    My students are classic for the "but they did it" line. I have one class that I absolutely have to kill to pay attention..I figure one out of six my first year, and coming in during the 2nd grading period isn't bad. I have one kid who tries every teacher he has, if you look in his direction he thinks you are looking at him and asks you why you are looking at him. He thinks everything is dumb and stupid and boring. I sent 2 to the office from this class today, one because this group needs to see an example ad nauseum and I KNEW the one kid would argue with me and probably start cussing (the admin knows alll about him) he's actually wanting to drop out and do the GED thing (yea right)-cause his preg gf is on homebound, admin won't let him go. So he likes to pout. I try to handle what I can in my class, but for people like him-I know what its going to get to and just send him right out before it grows larger. Other classes I can say hush and they hush.

    It sounds like to me that the students don't respect you nor believe you will truly do anything to them for breaking the rules, could come from the administration stand point. I've realized that for the repeat offenders, being written up, serving in school sus, and/or suspended doesn't really phase them much. They are usually thinking whatever. I had one today who got sent out tell me that he had In School for one day I said good, he said i don't care, I said me either.
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I just had a thought. 8th graders are not too old for reward schemes. My classes have "game day" most fridays. We play math games of their choosing related to whatever it is we're studying. The kids who have not behaved during the week are not allowed to participate, and must complete another relevent, yet much less fun, assignment. Nobody wants to loose their Friday privleges :D
     
  18. anthropologist

    anthropologist New Member

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Dedicated,

    I'm not in a position to write very much now. But your turbulence has got my respect. You are in a very difficult situation. I suggest you read Rosemary Plumstead's article on anger in students and how the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method changed it. She was teaching science, and you are in the social field, so there won't be a one-to-one correspondence in terms of subject matter. But look at the logic of what she's saying, and see if you can find application to yourself and your students. Go to the Aesthetic Realism Foundation website, where you can view the education pages on which Ms. Plumstead's papers have anchors. The article I'm talking about is called, "Through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method Knowledge Opposes Anger — & Students Learn!"

    I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

    Since I am not allowed to add any links until I've been in this forum a little longer, I can't be more specific. Meanwhile, I know that this situation can be understood and alleviated through this teaching method, which I have been able to teach to other teachers since 1973.

    Good luck!
     
  19. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Yes, I have to be more private. i do with the worst offenders, but it's hard to do everything in private. Do you think writing their name as a warning on the board is wrong? That's what a lot of the o. teachers do. I talked to my principal today regarding those 8th grade students who walk out of my class (my room is off the cafe and next to the courtyard) and she said it's a classroom management issue and I have to learn how to deal with it myself. Unfortunately, sending them to the office is not an option.
     
  20. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Are you in NYC? I am going to check out the article and get back to you. Thanks.
     
  21. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Dedicated, why are new studets circulating into your class every 6 weeks??? And, what sort of discipline techniques do you use? What are the consequences to them not doing their work???
     
  22. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 22, 2008

    I am Related Arts: Family & Consumer Science. We get our students for 6 week cycles. There are no consequences for not doing their work. Over the past year I have come to the conclusion the the best I can hope for is that they don't disrupt my class. I have talked to parents, I have given detention, these kids don't care.

    I was chastened by comments made to me by my principle the other day. Today I went in with both guns loaded. I did not yell, but had "heart to heart"s with several students. It was successful but it is hard to constantly be the "Alpha Dog". Tomorrow is another day.
     
  23. anthropologist

    anthropologist New Member

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    Apr 23, 2008

    Yes, I'm in New York City. If you want to email me I'll be happy to reply.
     
  24. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Apr 23, 2008

    No, I think it is pointless. Name on the board does nothing to kids except give them something to show off to.

    As far as the office things goes, I don't buy it. You send them out, what are they gonna do? Send them back? To me that is flat out disrespectful on the part of your administration.

    I can't believe I'm saying this but have you tried contacting your union? I may hate everything about unions but they should at least have the power to speak up to administration for you. They can also tell you what is contractually allowed and what your admins are simply lying to you about.
     
  25. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Apr 23, 2008

    I agree with Rockguykev..writing their names on the board only works...that i've seen..in elementary levels. Your students would probably want to decorate their name or comment on 'make sure you spell it right"

    As far as if they walk out of your class..in my district, we can write them up and the get an in-school suspension for a day, because they left the room without my permission. Sounds like your admin needs to get on the ball, it is their job to assist their teachers..new ones especially.
     
  26. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I don't know...from what you're describing, I think I'd be looking for another job...one with a supportive administration. I know that even in my homeroom, my kids wouldn't dare cross me cause if I send them to the principal there will be consequenses that they don't like.
     
  27. Vegas Art Guy

    Vegas Art Guy Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2008

    Make sure you write everything down with your problem kids. That way you and the admin have some backup. You can print it out and go...

    well on this day he/she did this, and on this day I talked to them about this, and on this day I gave them detention for this, and on this day I sent them to the dean for this. Some programs like Easy Grade Pro have a notes section that the deans can access as well as the parents. That's what I use.
     
  28. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2008

    I am here taking it all in but too drained to post. Thanks for all the input.
     
  29. Calliope

    Calliope Companion

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    Apr 24, 2008

    Last year I had a class like this. I mean, right down to the overturned chairs & breakdancing in the middle of the floor.

    I handed out worksheets. I know it sounds horrible, & I felt like a failure for doing it, but let me tell you what happened. These kids are used to worksheets. That's what teachers have done with them for years because of the same thing you're going through.

    Worksheets settled them down. They were oddly comforted by them. OK, so the problem kids slept. By the last quarter of the year, I was done messing with them, & I owed it to the others to pay attention to them, not the problems.

    I went around the classroom & helped individual students on questions. I was able to maintain control of myself & the classroom, & I was able to be warm & friendly with the students who were trying. Look around. There are a few kids in there that do their work every day, & they don't cause problems, despite the fact that they are with most of the other problem kids in 90% of their other classes. The worksheets enabled me to start to see the good & not just the bad.

    Then I realized that I could get these kids to do almost any work if it were in the form of a "worksheet." It could be higher order thinking, but if it looked like a WS, they would do it. I never put them in groups again, but my good kids would start to discuss the questions & help each other. I didn't say a word. I just let it happen organically.

    I also realized that these kids are comforted by structure & routine. I couldn't do fun free-thinking activities, but we could learn. So I became very repetitive in my activities for that class. First we always did A, then B, then C. They knew what to expect, & it didn't require a lot of explaining of directions or moving around -- both of which were always invitations for acting out.

    After SEVERAL weeks of this I added just a few minutes of a varied kind of activity every 3rd class or so. Something simple like, take your worksheet & share it with 2 other people. Write a paragraph together about ______.

    Finally, I implemented a new behavior plan. I took a notebook & in big letters wrote "BEHAVIOR POINTS." I explained that each day a student would start with 4 points. I liked the part that when they walked in the door, I'd already given them GOOD points; I was assuming they would be good until they proved me wrong. Every time I called a name, a point would be removed. But I didn't share the information with them. I told them that the 10 students with the most points would be taken on a field trip & out to lunch. Keeping them off balance, not knowing for sure whether or not they'd lost points, unsettled & subdued them. It drove them crazy, but being disruptive asking about points would lose them points ;)

    Did it go perfectly? Of course not. But it made a huge difference in the class, & mostly it made a huge difference in ME. I was in control of myself again, & I did get to help those students who really were trying, despite being surrounded by idiots. I realized how much character that took.
     
  30. Vegas Art Guy

    Vegas Art Guy Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2008

    Callipoe,
    I'm at that point with one of my classes as well. Two stacks, one of worksheets and one of detentions.

    They couldn't even behave with my daughter in the room.
     
  31. Dedicated

    Dedicated Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2008

    Wow. You almost are reading my mind. I thought to myself today, in fact, that maybe I am asking too much of many of these kids. Maybe the whole structure thing applies to how they learn too. I. E. worksheets. they grab at word searches but discussion and writing are something they hate. I am loose and into discussion, I have an art degree as well as Family & Consumer Science. What to me is restrictive and boring ISconforting to them.

    I did have the most amazing discussion with my one 6th grade class about the election. I haven't had a more intelligent discourse with my friends. It was uplifting. Of, course today was same old same old with my classes. That is: awful.

    I am going to go with your plan right now. I believe you are on the right track. I have to make it to June. Two more teachers told me they have other jobs today.
     
  32. msb

    msb Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2008

    Hi, Dedicated! I just wanted to let you know that I was in a similar situation last year. It was my first year last year. It sounds like a similar demographics as my last school. After the first week of school, I didn't know how I would survive the school year. I had no classroom management. Even the good students would complain to the counselors how bad my classes were. Then I realized that I needed to stick through it and figure out how to manage my kids. I tried everything, and somethings didn't work, so I tried something else. It's true what everyone says; you really need to mean business. I think it was the second semester where I felt that things were starting to work with my classes--not entirely, mind you, but enough that we were getting *some* learning done. I had two 8th grade classes and a combo block class of 6th, 7th, and 8th.

    Also, I started to get to know some of my kids, and we started to respect each other--not all of this happened with my students, but enough to where peer pressure would work for the behavior students to shut up sometimes. (Okay, it didn't happen like the Hollywood movie version; it took a long time--without all the personal drama, and everyone was saved at the end.):rolleyes:

    Yes, having it structured works, too. I started doing bellwork the first 5-10 minutes of class and then go into my lesson. Students all need the structure. When I do go offtrack without bellwork for whatever reason, it just throws them off.

    In any case, I decided that I couldn't continue working at the school for so many reasons--a great deal having to do with a lack of administrative support. I figured that life is too short to deal with this type of stress. I left and now I work at a really supportive school--administration is good, and the students are well-behaved in comparison to last year. I also have really supportive parents and some that are too involved--I can live with that. :)

    I would also recommend the Fred Jones classroom management system. I've been reading his books, and he also has a web site where you could post questions. I'm still trying to work on my classroom management skills, and I am attending a Fred Jone's workshop in June. I've tried implementing the methodology he recommends. I certainly need to work on it, but it seems to be helping my classes. I just started this in February of this year, and it has helped all of my classes. There's still so much more that I can learn. Looking back on last year, I think this system would have helped my classes.

    Anyway, just keep trying! It's true that consistency is important with students. Most of them don't have that in their life because their either moving around, parents are not there (physically or emotionally), and their home life is a nightmare--you may be the most stable thing in their lives. Sometimes doing the best you can to help those who really need it gets you through the day. I know it helped me last year. :)
     
  33. donoharm

    donoharm New Member

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    Apr 26, 2008

    Try this!

    Your situation sounds very similar to mine as well. I was hired nearly a month into the school year to teach classes with a high concentration of habitual disruptors with multi-year histories of behavioral issues. When I arrived, the students had been "overseen" for weeks by a series of subs who essentially let them do whatever they pleased, including (the day I came on the scene) play soccer in the classroom. I quit after a few weeks, but was convinced to stay on part time. To my amazement, I have managed to get the classes more or less under control--well at least some of them. I found a "majic bullet" (excuse the violent analogy--it's unintentional). Here it is. Buy a timer that beeps. You can find them on-line. They're used for sporting events. The bigger the better. Make sure it counts seconds and minutes. Make sure it has a loud beep. Whenever the class is out of control (this may be always initially), turn on the timer. Set it where everyone can see it. Announce (or write on the board, if you can't get anyone to listen), that the entire class will be held in for however many minutes the time runs before they stop yakking. Then--and this is the tough part--stick by it. You must keep the entire class in for the entire time they waste. When the bell rings, you make sure no one stands. Stand in front of the door with your arms spread and block any students who try to bustle out. Continue the lesson. Tell (or write) them, "You have two minutes and ten seconds." Hey, it worked for me. Only problem--I can only use this strategy with my end-of-day class and my pre-brunch class. Good luck. Know you are not in this alone. Try to keep your sense of humor. The kids are good inside--just not conditioned to shush.
     

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