Need major help :(

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by eri444, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Feb 5, 2011

    Hi all-

    I am in my very first year of teaching in an amazing, high-performing school district on Long Island, a district I was really proud to get hired in without any type of nepotism - all on my own merits (for those of you that don't know, the L.I. public schools are "rumored" to have nepotistic hiring processes). My classroom management, however, is terrible.

    Unfortunately, word has gotten back to my principal that the classroom management in one of my classes is especially bad (since I was told by my mentor that he had spoken to her to help me). I am on a probationary track, but I fear I will lose my position because of this discipline problem. The administration is now aware of it, and I really have no idea what else to do. I have read so many books on classroom management in the past 5 months, and I thought maybe I was going to swing by my first year under the radar (without admin finding out) and start anew next year. I am having so much trouble getting 6th and 7th graders under control - I am known as the young, "cool," and "not-strict" teacher, despite all my efforts to be the opposite.

    I would hate to lose my job over something like classroom management - I enjoy helping students, and the students enjoy working with me - but I clearly have trouble commanding respect from these students since many of them obviously do not like to listen to me. I always have clear lessons planned out with "Do Now's" on the board and I never leave any free moments for the students to do whatever they want, quickly transitioning from one thing to the next, but still the students are so misbehaved...

    If I get let go from this position, I think I would leave teaching for good... (I'm a career changer - did online marketing before).

    Help! Any advice?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2011

    First, we need a little more information. You said you teach 6/7th grade. How long do you have the students for? What subject are you teaching? About how many students in a class?

    Can you be a little more specific on the behaviors? Do they start this immediately walking in? Do they not start the warm up? Do they talk the entire time?
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Feb 6, 2011

    I would suggest that you be proactive. Go to your principal and ask to observe other classes. Ask if there are any district classes you can take to help. The P would be more inclined to keep you if you show that you are on top of the situation, trying to make changes, and not trying to "swing by my first year under the radar (without admin finding out)". If you can't get the situation under control this year, next year won't be any better.
     
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  5. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2011

    First, we need a little more information. You said you teach 6/7th grade. How long do you have the students for? I have the students for 40 minutes at a time. This particular class is right after Lunch so the students come about 5 minutes early, but they wait outside the room (since I am teaching a different class), until the bell rings. What subject are you teaching? I am a math teacher, but this particular class is called Core. It is for all 6th graders, and it is taught in rotations. They have me for two weeks; then they go to science for two weeks. After, they go to English for two weeks; after, they go to Social Studies for two weeks and then they come back to me. So in total, I only have the students for 2 weeks, 4 times a year. However, I have been told by the students that their behaviors are worse in my class than the other classes. The kids themselves have told me that I am not as strict as the others, but I don't know how the other teachers are appearing to be so strict. I know for a fact I am the only one that gives out detentions. I gave out 9 in one day once in one class. About how many students in a class? The class size in Core ranges from 26 to 29. I have four different rotations - the first two are terrible, the third one is bad, and the fourth one is bearable for me compared to the other three, but is still not perfect. A little more about the class - it is Pass/Fail, and the grades are done by all 4 teachers, not just by me. So even if they fail Math core, they will not fail Core if they're passing one of the other parts of the course.

    Can you be a little more specific on the behaviors? Do they start this immediately walking in? When students walk in, they immediately start talking to each other. If I start to explain the Do Now, though, I can get them to be quiet for about 1 minute (literally), and then they'll start talking again. They will read problems aloud even if I tell them to read in their minds until we're ready to go over it, and they will keep calling my name aloud without raising hands, even though I tell them not to.Do they not start the warm up? Do they talk the entire time? I would say there is always at least one student talking. I am constantly stopping and waiting, and another student will say something like "He's waiting..." and the students will then quiet for about 10 seconds. Once I start going over something again, another student talks again.

    I would suggest that you be proactive. Go to your principal and ask to observe other classes. Ask if there are any district classes you can take to help. The P would be more inclined to keep you if you show that you are on top of the situation, trying to make changes, and not trying to "swing by my first year under the radar (without admin finding out)". I didn't mean I was swinging under the radar and not being proactive. I am proactively trying to change the situation - I was just trying to do so without administration finding out that I had a problem at all. I have interviewed other teachers - I have observed other classes (though not Core classes) - I have taken some advice from my mentor in terms of class arrangements - I've literally bought probably 7 or 8 classroom management books and have tried different techniques - I'm taking a Classroom Management class right now on Monday nights at a local college because of it - I am always looking online for classroom management tips. The sad part is, behavior HAS gotten better from September. But an administrator walked into my classroom on Friday and saw what was happening, and she really thought the behavior was terrible, and she went back to the principal because of it. The Principal had a private conversation with my mentor to ask her to help me out, so I'm working with her to get the situation under control. The toughest part is that we all know how important first impressions are - and these kids already have that impression in their head that I am the easygoing teacher, even though I am constantly walking around, trying to discipline these students, giving detentions, calling parents - it just doesn't help.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2011

    A few more questions:
    Do you also have these same students for math during the day?
    When you teach CORE-what are you teaching? (Testing taking strategies, more math, lower skills that they never mastered, calculator skills)?

    You can make changes in the middle of the year! When I want to change something, I explain to the students that they are starting to become "seventh graders" (or whatever grade) and that the expectations need to shift to get them ready for the next level.
     
  7. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2011

    A few more questions:
    Do you also have these same students for math during the day? Nope, I am not their 6th grade math teacher. Though, I could have these students next year for 7th grade (and don't think I haven't used that as leverage - I am constantly saying that they could get me again next year, and they are not showing me that they are ready for the 7th grade math curriculum."
    When you teach CORE-what are you teaching? (Testing taking strategies, more math, lower skills that they never mastered, calculator skills)? During first quarter, we did graphs - bar graphs, line graphs, etc. During second quarter, we did the ancient number systems - Roman Numerals, Ancient Greeks, etc. This quarter, we're doing Test Prep for the 6th grade math assessment in New York State. The way it's set up, students have 1 period to take Book 1, then the next day we go over it for a period. Then, they have another period to take Book 2, then the next day we go over it for a period, and so on.

    You can make changes in the middle of the year! When I want to change something, I explain to the students that they are starting to become "seventh graders" (or whatever grade) and that the expectations need to shift to get them ready for the next level.
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2011

    When you say they take book 1---do they sit at their desks and take the test silently?
     
  9. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2011

    When you say they take book 1---do they sit at their desks and take the test silently?
    On a scale of 1- 10, their noise level when they take the test is a 3-4. When we review the test, their noise level is around a 7-9.
     
  10. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2011

    The worst part about it is that when I walk through the hallway, some teachers have such quiet classrooms where you can hear a pin drop in them. It's crazy.

    It is so frustrating that it's something I'm working on so much yet have seen such little improvement.
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2011

    On review days, is it possible to have the students present the answers in a group. Maybe each pair gets two problems to present to the others. They tend to be more quiet when they are listening to each other.

    Have you tried playing the teacher/student game, or giving group points yet?
     
  12. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 6, 2011

  13. dhich

    dhich Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2011

    I agree here. A principal who sees a teacher trying to improve his or her skills should probably not only look more favorably at you but also offer recommendations. Observing other classes and talking to the other staff about techniques can be really helpful. And use your mentor. That's what they're there for.
     
  14. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Feb 6, 2011

    Whole Brain Teaching is tailor made for your situation. Look into that. It is fun for you and them, and very easy to get started. Best of all the whole thing is free.

    If you look into it and are interested let me know and I will be glad to help you get started.
     
  15. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Feb 6, 2011

    have you tried group work or game-like review (of course with clear expectations)???

    and yes I've used whole brain teaching - it is great.
     
  16. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Feb 6, 2011

    What kind of consequences can you give the kids? If the children are talking while testing they are not going to do well on the test. If there are a few main culprits who are leading others have you done any specifics to stop the behavior? Is the 7-9 while you are speaking? If so then do you stop speaking? If they have to wait the entire time; due to their talking can you then have them come back at lunch or a break to redo what they chose not to do during class? Have you gone in and observed other 6th grade core classes? Have you talked to them about the consequences they use?

    With my first graders if they raise their hands I am specific about why I am calling on them, "I am looking for quiet hands." I also repeatedly explain "You skipped a step" when the children call out. I also reiterate "we use quiet hands to give everyone a fair chance" When the children are talking over me I use a smiley face frowny face chart that I mark for behavior, you could use the same type of thing check out whole brain or Tools for Teaching for whole class consequence ideas. I also have all the talkers visit me at recess.

    My class is currently going back to the beginning of the year because of regression in behavior. So we go over the rules daily. The whole class meets to discuss what we are going to focus on to improve our whole classroom. We also have gone back to lots of practicing of expectations. We are stopping everything to go from the rug to the chairs if that is a problem. We stop everything to practice turning on the rug to follow me from one area of the class to another if the children are not doing that well. If talking over me is the problem that is what we practice until I am satisfied. If the classroom has its behavior falling apart it is useless trying to teach other stuff because until the behavior is better the children are not learning much. One of the fifth grade classes I taught in my first few years was not very classroom ready and I so I back tracked and started over like they were beginning school to get them more adept at regular classroom behavior.
     
  17. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Feb 8, 2011

    Students will size you up in milliseconds by how you start the school year. As they enter the room they are asking "Is this a work class or do we get to kick-back?"

    Two scenarios:

    Teacher A

    1) Kids begin to saunter in before bell rings. They mill and talk.
    2) Bell rings and kids continue to talk. None take seats.
    3) Teacher (from front of classroom) "Class, the bell has rung. Let's all find a seat."
    4) A few sit (next to friends) but most continue socializing.
    5) Teacher (in a little sharper tone) "Would everyone please find a seat. We have a lot to cover today."
    6) Almost all sit down but two in the back continue to talk.
    7) Teacher (starting to show frustration) "You tow back there. This is the third time I've asked you to sit down!"
    8) They finally sit down, seven minutes into first period.
    9) Teacher launches into a long-winded oratory about goals and wishes for the school year.

    Teacher A has taught valuable lessons to start the school year:

    1. You can enter my room any way you want.
    2. You can sit by friends.
    3. I have nothing for you to do.
    4. I will nag you to sit down.
    5. I do most of the talking.

    Teacher B

    1) Teacher is standing at door as students enter, greets each one, hands each a work sheet with instructions to find his/her seat (name tags in advance) and follow written directions on board (written in advance).
    2) Teacher moves among students as they work monitoring and answering questions.

    Teacher B has taught valuable lessons:

    1. I will greet you at the door and respect you enough to learn your name.
    2. I will assign you a seat.
    3. I will have something for you do.
    4. I expect you to follow written directions.
    5. I will be near you as you are working.

    Questions: Regarding student's first impressions which class is likely to be a work class? In which class are they already plotting to see what they can get away with? In terms of rules and routines which teacher likely to have an easier year? Which teacher likely have to establish order on a daily basis?
     
  18. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Feb 8, 2011

    I could have never said that as wonderfully as you just did!:love:
     
  19. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    Mar 13, 2011

    Yes, I would like to believe that I am Teacher B. Even before the beginning of my new classes, I had little post-its on the desk with numbers on them. I had already made a seating chart with the support and advice of the previous instructional assistant who knew the classroom behaviors better than me.

    As soon as the students walked into the classroom, they were given a number and told where to sit at. Now that I think about it, I feel that this already established me as a tough teacher to be with in class.
     
  20. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Apr 13, 2011

    I posted a similar problem on here last year and someone suggested Whole Brain Teaching, which helped me quite a lot (especially the Class-Yes part). I don't use it as much as I used to, but it's still a very helpful tool.

    Also, take advantage of whatever leverage you have- one simple thing I do is if it's the period before lunch, recess or the end of the day, I tell them that I need quiet please, and then say if they're not quiet in five seconds they will stay for an extra minute after the bell.

    I also very much agree with the advice about being pro-active. Last year I involved every one I could in my behavior problems (I probably went too far) and asked for advice from anyone who would listen. Even if the advice or help makes very little difference in class, it makes the problem more concrete and less abstract for your bosses. It forces them to walk around a little in your shoes and hopefully develop some sympathy for the problems you're having. More importantly, it's exactly what you should do professionally- no competent manager would ever tell you to keep your problems to yourself and handle it all on your own.
     

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