Need help with behavior management

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 15, 2009

    I teach one section of 'Mentorship' which is an early bird class for all freshman magnet students at my school. This class is primarily meant to serve as a study hall or homework lab associated with the freshman magnet course. The other Mentorship teachers and I have also decided to implement reading, writing, and grade check components.

    The class meets daily for 45 minutes. Typically we either read or journal for the first 20 minutes of class, then work on homework (study groups, homework support, whatever) for the last 25 minutes of class.

    Sounds easy, yes? Well it should be. The problem is that this class is NOT FOR CREDIT.

    Because students aren't earning credit for this class (at least this is why I think), several of them are viewing the class as a glorified social hour or nap time. It is neither of those things.

    Students generally work well for about 15 minutes and then they start to chatter.

    I can't send them to the deans' office because their class meets before the school day and the deans are unavailable. I have nowhere to send them for a time-out or otherwise remove them from the classroom for the same reason--teachers don't even arrive at school until 7:30, when our class is 2/3 over. This means that I must keep them in my classroom, inappropriate behaviors and all.

    I am working on contacting parents, but in the meantime I need some help with dealing with these students in the moment, as they are displaying these behaviors. They pretty adamantly refuse to comply with my directives. Obviously I can't force them to read or write or do their homework...but I can't allow them to just sit around and do jack when they are being disruptive.

    Any suggestions?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I should add that I don't generally struggle with classroom management. I have a progressive discipline which I follow...but it can't be implemented in this situation. I'm pretty frustrated!
     
  4. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I can understand why this is frustrating. My approach would be to use a hand signal to get their attention. I would have everyone stop what they are doing every time there is the smallest disruption in order to train them as to what is expected. I have a class with the potential to be loud and this works well. I would also consider putting an kid who was excessively disruptive in the hall and then assign detentions later.
     
  5. SPECIALEDMAN

    SPECIALEDMAN Companion

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    Sounds like a hard spot to be in. If all magnet students of that grade level are required to attend shouldn’t it be held during the schools normal hours of operation? I understand the concept and reasoning for the class, but also see the holes in this from a student prospective.

    I would take this up with the P by explaining that the children are not taking the class seriously and explain the concept of their thoughts and reactions. I’m certain that the P will view this as something to think about. After all, it can be difficult to get kids of that age to work hard in classes that do count (so to say).
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The class shouldn't exist. The only reason that it does is that the buses refuse to pick up the magnet students (who live all over the county) at a later time. Since the buses drop them off at school between 6:30 and 6:50, and school doesn't start until 7:50, admin needed someplace to put them. Their hands were tied as far as this class went. They are not happy with the fact that the district transportation office is dictating the master schedule, but that's neither here nor there....

    As for stopping the class with a hand signal...eh. It's a good idea and I think it would definitely work in some settings, but not in mine. Some of my students flat out refuse to stop talking when I attempt to get their attention--which I do by standing in a particular spot at the front of the room, asking for their attention, and waiting until they give it. This method works for me nearly 100% of the time, but it doesn't work here because they. won't. stop. talking.

    Normally I would send insubordinate students to the deans office, per my progressive discipline plan. As I mentioned before, I can't do that.

    Unfortunately I also can't send disruptive students into the hallway because a) they will disrupt other classes, and b) I can't be responsible for them when they are out of my sight. It's actually a violation of my contract to leave students alone without supervision. I'm not about to do it.

    I'm starting to wonder if this might end up just turning into a sort of holding cell for these students. Maybe the battle isn't even worth fighting.... :(
     
  7. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I've always had a great deal of respect for you Cassie so I'm sure you know what is best. But I have very chatty low performing kids and waiting for them to quiet down has never worked. The hand signal does. I have my kids in groups of 4. They are responsible for alerting their seatmates but are not responsible for "making" them be quiet. I was really skeptical about it. But it has definately worked better than anything else I've ever tried. I have to be really consistent about the expectations, etc, but it is truly making class so much easier :)
     
  8. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    I understand the class is not for credit, but can you give pass/fail marks? That might make a difference. Also, if you school gives citizenship marks, can you give these marks? For us two insatisfactory marks keeps a kid from extracurricular activities (sports, dances, etc). This might help also.
     
  9. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    They definitely need some sort of incentive and def. age appropriate considering they're high school students.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No on the pass/fail. I can't issue citizenship marks either.

    I can try giving a hand signal, but I'm telling you that I'm skeptical. It's not that the students don't realize that I'm trying to get their attention. It's that they choose to ignore me. And I have no recourse for that behavior.

    Erg. Frustrating!!
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Let me add that there are 50 students in this class.
     
  12. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Hi Cassie,

    I think you are in a tough spot and I really do think you have always sounded like an excellent teacher.

    I started using Kagan in my class. I started the hand signal. I had one REALLY bad day where I didn't know if I could handle the whole cooperative concept. Then I read a post on another board about stopping negative behaviours when they happen. I have found that as long as the hand thing is clear in my head that it works.

    As I said I think you know what is best better than anyone else, but if I was in your shoes I would:

    1 - Meet students at the door - be very clear about what I expected - quietly file to your seat, sit down start writing the note on the board -- how the hand signal works.
    2 - I would stop anyone who made a peep before the class could get to a dull roar.
    3 - I would, as the kids wrote, explain what I expected. (When my hand goes up the class is quiet in 5 seconds because.....When you see my hand you stop what you are doing stop talking and put your hand up - you gently tap your group members desks - you are only responsible for yourself and alterting your group - you are not responsible for other groups).
    4 - I would practice the quiet signal.
    5 - I would give them a bunch of tiny little tasks and keep practicing being quiet and the quiet signal
    6 - I would include some fun, silly games to give them a break part way through class and explain that our brains need a break
    7 - I would repeat this for a few days - I would be super happy every day and I would tell kids how good they were doing (when they were) - I wouldn't show frusration even when I was

    If this didn't work, I'd probably give into the chaos :)
     
  13. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    BTW - when my kids were ignoring me (early on before I did the note, etc) I knew they knew what I expected too :)
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Maybe you get assignements-- extra work-- from their classroom teachers that WILL count???

    You could ask the teachers to donate used tests or something. Anytime a kid chooses not to do what he should be doing, he would get one of these as an assignment, to be handed in and graded, instead??? Kind of a PITA for the classroom teacher, except that it would be more drill work for the kid and might actually help with the grades???

    I'm making this up as I go along, so I suspect there are some flaws in my reasoning someplace.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I guess bellowing "YO!" at the top of your lungs is a bad idea? It used to be the only thing that worked for me because I could do it staccato and blow out their eardrums.

    In your case, I'd deal with the noise on two conditions. A) The students can hear you speak slightly above a normal speaking voice and respond with instant silence to hear you; B) They are not so loud that another teacher doesn't run into the room to complain or rescue you.
     
  16. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Good grief - 50 kids in a class for which they've got no motivation to behave because it doesn't count for anything? The thing that gets me is that you're there with no administrators on campus! I get to school at 6:30, and my P is always there before me.

    Unless someone is willing to step up and be available for discipline, I don't see a real way out for you. You've got my sympathies - what a way to start the day. :(
     
  17. 2inspire

    2inspire Companion

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    Can you "arrange" for them to come in and practice the working quietly expectation during some of their free time (ie. lunch). If it's not a time you have off maybe the admin would help you out. I'm thinking you'd only have to do it once or twice before the class got the message that you mean business.

    I'm imagining it looking like this, 5 students (we'll pretend it's only 5 for the sake of argument) are off task. You ask for their cooperation and then set timer counting up. (A great big one if you have it-like on an overhead or smartboard) Eventually someone will see you are counting up and ask why. "This is how long it took for you to get control of yourself. You have shown me that you need to practice this procedure. You are expected to report to (fill in who can help) at lunch with this homework assignment to practice working quietly. We will practice everyday that you need to until you can follow the expectations in this class."

    If you're feeling particulary nice you can even give them the lecture at the start of class.
     
  18. SPECIALEDMAN

    SPECIALEDMAN Companion

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    Sounds like a lot to handle especially with 50! I still don’t exactly understand why insubordination can’t be dealt with once the school is open or the Dean arrives. I would have each and every student that gave me a problem called to the Dean’s office the minute he/she was available.

    Another idea…Devise a demerit plan with your Deans approval, send a letter home explaining the demerit plan with all the magnet program students that MUST be signed and returned stating the fact that after a predetermined number of demerits the student will not be able to attend the class for a set number of days… Trust me, when parents have to make alternative plans for their child in order to get to work on time or alter carpooling arrangements those students will straighten up in a hurry! This is similar to getting “kicked” off the bus back in the day when I was in school. Parents have to make alternative arrangements and more importantly know that their child is being disruptive.
     
  19. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    That sounds like too many kids in one class, especially in a class with no grades, no credit, etc. What you are really doing is baby-sitting.

    Why not call it as it is, and have it be morning wake-up, and they can simply stay in the room and sleep, read or QUIETLY talk? What's the point in teaching a class to them when they know it has no meaning or influence on their grades?

    They know it's BS so they aren't doing anything to make the class anything other than BS. If you just call it out, make it known that you KNOW it's not a class, but basically a resting stop before actual school begins, perhaps they will respect it more and actually do what they SHOULD be doing... reading, homework or sleeping.

    Make it fun by bringing in some goodies for breakfast when they follow-through...
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is the direction I'm heading in right now. (But I'm not bringing in goodies!)
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The problem is not that I can't 'deal' with insubordination through the deans' office. The problem is that when students behave inappropriately during class, I have no recourse right then. I can't send them out to any other place, which is what I would normally do in the event that a student were to hinder me from teaching and/or other students from learning. I am obligated to keep those students in my classroom, regardless of their behaviors.

    Of course I deal with the issues after class, by calling home, writing referrals, etc. I'm just very limited by what I can do in the moment.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    And unfortunately, 50 students in a classroom is not unusual at my school. Several of my other classes have darn near 50 students, and the rest have 30-35.

    Normally I love teaching where I do, in this setting and with this sort of student population. In situations like these, however, it's hard to love it....
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This plan sounds like it might work in an elementary setting. I'm not entirely sure how this would work at a high school. Our students are on two different lunch schedules, so they'd have to come in at two separate times. Since I'm teaching during one of those times (and that class has almost 50 students) there's no way I'd be about to ask an additional 25+ students to come in and 'practice' anything.

    I also don't really think that I'm allowed to take away their lunch time. It's pretty limited as it is. Frankly, even if I were allowed to do it, I'm not sure that I would. I do think that all students need time to socialize.
     
  24. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    I agree with the poster who said that you need to threaten the parents with the students' suspension from the class. You guys are doing the parents a huge favor by taking those kids in early - many families have to provide their own transportation to magnet programs. Run this by your principal.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    None of this is up to my building principal. It's a call made by the district, which is ENORMOUS (5th largest in the country) and not always on board with what actually works in real, practical life. You know what I mean, I'm sure.

    Parents are being contacted with limited success. In an urban setting like this, it's not unusual for parents to have zero involvement.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Update:

    Today I started class with a huge pile of detention slips on my little cart at the front of the room. As students behaved inappropriately, I handed them a slip and asked them to fill it out along with the day they would be serving detention--Thursday or Friday. The first student was shocked, SHOCKED, that I asked him to do this. The second student evidently thought that I had been kidding with the first one, and he appeared to be equally as shocked. Thankfully their shock led to their silence and compliance. Everyone else seemed to get the point after that.

    We'll see if it carries over to tomorrow.
     
  27. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    Have that stack ready tomorrow and every single day from now on. They're in the magnet program, they should act like it.

    And yes, I know exactly how the powers that be are out of touch with those in the trenches.
     
  28. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Good luck, Cassie! It seems like you've at least gotten a handle on the situation!
     
  29. 2inspire

    2inspire Companion

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    yeah for an idea that's working, good luck and I'll quit complaining about my 28. eh' gads-50 students I'd go crazy
     
  30. SPECIALEDMAN

    SPECIALEDMAN Companion

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    Wish you luck... They now realize that your serious.
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Update:

    Well, it's been a little while since I first posted about this issue. After trying many different strategies (thanks, guys!), I ultimately decided that the best course of action in this situation would be to sort of let it go.

    Students are still required to spend the first half of class reading or journaling (alternating days). They will spend the second half of the class working on homework. I'm not going to incorporate any sort of study skills or mnemonics or test-taking strategies sorts of components. Although I think that those sorts of activities are invaluable, especially at this level (freshmen), the group as a whole is simply unresponsive and non-participatory. Since the class is for zero credit, I'm not pushing the issue. They can use the period as a study hall and that's that. Maybe when they see their quarter grades they'll be more interested in what I have to say....

    The behaviors have worked themselves out. I've been issuing detentions whenever students have been making inappropriate choices. That has been a huge deterrent, so I'll keep it up.

    Anyway, there that is.

    :)
     
  32. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sounds like a happy medium, plus you'll be there to help them when they decide they need you. Beautiful!
     

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