Need Management Help...Losing It!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by roxstar, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. roxstar

    roxstar Companion

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    Dec 12, 2016

    Hello everyone. So I am in my 7th year teaching, and while I would never consider myself a classroom management expert, I have done well so far. It seems that I teach a different grade every year, so I am constantly learning. Last year I taught first grade, and while it was not for me in terms of content and the kids independence level, I managed the heck out of those kiddos. So, I have always felt like I knew what I was doing. Except for my first year. Good golly...

    ...anyway. I am teaching fourth grade this year and I am STRUGGLING. They are talkers. I know this is an age old problem, but I have NEVER experienced anything like this. They just ERUPT. If I am talking and I stop to clear my throat, half the class starts chatting. LOUDLY. I'm not kidding. I turned my head to look at the Smart Board today and half the class started a conversation. I feel like I am losing authority over these guys and it is killing me. I am not enjoying my days. I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed. I am unhappy.

    Things I have tried:

    1. Various incentive systems: I am OVER this. I did it because the rest of the team did, and we are departmentalized. I wanted to be sure we were all on the same page. All of them have proven USELESS. The reward systems, not my team! And yes, it is only December and I have tried 3 different systems. I know, I know. Big problem with consistency there.

    Classdojo: nightmare to keep up with. I have 38 fourth graders times 2. We are departmentalized. Can't do it.
    Clipchart: nightmare for the same reason

    Yelling: ha ha. I know it's not an incentive, and it is so WRONG, but I have lost my cool a few times.

    2. Stop, go back out and try it again: Half the class were talking at playground volume going into the room. When we try it again, they go out as slowly and as loudly as they went in!

    3. Heart to Heart Talks with the Class.

    I don't want an incentive system. I think they become tied to it, and they don't want to do well if I get wrapped up in teaching and forget to give them a reward. These systems tend to work only for the "good" kids anyway, and they do what they are supposed to do regardless.

    In this class I also have 5 boys that are VERY difficult. I mean, in the office RPC difficult at least once a week. This is a difficult year to say the least.

    I just need some advice y'all because I need to get some teaching done.

    Thanks.
    Roxane
     
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  3. Education4all

    Education4all Rookie

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    Dec 13, 2016

    Roxane, you said "I just need some advice y'all because I need to get some teaching done." I'm no expert myself, however, I see very clearly where your teaching needs to be done and it is not academics. You need to go back and teach that procedure and your expectations for the students during lessons and hold them accountable. This won't happen in one day. You may need to stop all academic lessons and go back to the beginning and teach procedures and expectations for a few weeks. If you take one day and try to review your expectations, the kids will know you are just frustrated and are a joke. However, if you take the time necessary, like 2-3 weeks of teaching procedures, the kids will know that you mean business and things are changing.

    I had a student that I held accountable for 2 months. They didn't clear up something on the home front with their parents and they had to sit at recess everyday until they did. I put all the responsibility on the student and held them accountable. Other teachers said I was being a bit extreme and I should let it go. After two months, the student took care of the business and got it done and their recess was restored. Was it a failure on my part? Absolutely not! The student learned a life lesson on being responsible. They didn't learn it quickly, it took 2 months, but they LEARNED IT! If I had let it go, then the student would have learned a much different lesson.

    The point is this...We teach math, reading, etc. but we TEACH students the things they need to be successful in life. Hold them accountable!
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Dec 13, 2016

    38 fourth graders? Wow! I think departmentalization makes elementary classroom management harder, too, because at that age different classroom expectations and environments during the day can be tough.

    Here are a few things to try:
    1. Choral reading. Instead of you or one student reading a passage, everyone reads it. This gives them a chance to talk productively, and makes them pay attention.
    2. Turn and talk. Have them turn and share an answer as often as possible, even if it's just for five seconds. Practice having them come back to attention right away.
    3. Keep them busy. One of my classes (we departmentalize too) cannot have a moment of downtime. Always give them something to do. Let's say you need to walk to a shelf to get a book. As you walk, you might say, "Today we're going to read a book about Alaska. Turn and talk with your partner about what you know about Alaska." You also might say, "Take out your notebook and write Alaska on a fresh new page. A-L-A-S-K-A. Also put the date at the top."
    4. Finally, keep a fast pace. We do worksheets but I keep the rhythm going when we're checking them. "Alice, read the directions. Jose, read question 1. Lee, what's the answer? Good. Kane, read 2. Micah, what's the answer?" The rhythm really helps keep kids on task, and they follow along. You might also do choral responses here too. "Kane, read 2. Everyone, what's the answer?"
    Basically, these kids have a lot of energy. You've got to find ways to keep them busy, let them talk, and tire them out, otherwise they'll do that in ways of their own choosing.
     
  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2016

    I suggest a mix of the above. Train them on the expectations and train them hard (I recommend after winter break) then keep 'em busy.
     
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  6. TeacherCuriousExplore

    TeacherCuriousExplore Cohort

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    Dec 13, 2016


    Classroom management is one of the aspects in teaching that is hard to master because it is one of those skills that is a natural rather than taught. I have taught children from age 3 to 4th and thankfully on every level I possess classroom management.
    I must admit I am a person that yells at times,but not often. Only when they are extremely noisy. How many 4th graders do you have where the talking is extra loud for you to yell?
    4th graders should know not to talk while classroom learning is taking place. Try doing the star chart and those that do not have a certain number of stars can't participate in Fun Friday.
    Be stern, But nurturing.
    In all of the grades that I taught, I let the students know that we have rules and you will not disobey my classroom rules. Each time that they would test me I would call them out for it and let the class know why they were wrong. After letting them know about their actions then the whole class would suffer by maybe placing head on desk during recess for 10 to 15 mins.
    I now teach Prek and they know my classroom rules. I never have any problems with them.
    Get stern and serious
     
  7. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Dec 13, 2016

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Dec 13, 2016

    This is also helpful. Try not to have them sitting and listening without something to do. Notetaking is a good skill and also keeps them focused.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  9. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Dec 13, 2016

    ,
     
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  10. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    Dec 14, 2016

    What subjects do you teach? I am also 4th grade departmentalized but we have 3 groups of 30 so a total of 90 students.

    I know you said ClassDojo hasn't been the best incentive, but for us it works great. All three of us share the same dojo so the students know that their same points and scores go from one classroom to the next. At the end of the week, for every 5 points they earn $1 (school money) to spend at the school store.

    But I'll echo everyone else here... go back to basics. Reteach rules and expectations.
     
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  11. McGonagall

    McGonagall Rookie

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    Dec 27, 2016

    Class Dojo is HARD to keep up with! I had 29 students, but there were three classrooms and I took them all for social studies. We did a three-way switch. All of us used Dojo - and man, was it a pain. I would be giving out Dojos to kids during lessons, which was great, but half the time I was forgetting to add them and the hopping back and forth between classes stunk big time! It was also hard to reinforce the idea of "earning" the Dojos (or getting them taken away) unless the kids heard the Dojo noise over our speakers... which were often broken.

    So I came up with this method:

    At the beginning of a lesson, I wrote a giant '5' on the board. I told the kids that they all had just earned five dojos - their entire class, every single student. If they got through the lesson without me having to stop for misbehavior or noise, they got all five Dojos PLUS a bonus dojo (since I never took any away during the lesson). But, if the noise got out of hand or the class got too off-task, I would quietly walk to the board, erase the 5 and put up a 4, or a 3, or so on and so forth.

    It worked.

    Sometimes I would make it halfway to the board and the kids immediately fell into a silence, or one particular kid would notice that I was heading to take a dojo and would hush the class. It brought personal accountability as well as teamwork. If the kids would fall into silence or go back on task before I made it to the board, I let them keep the dojo.

    It was honestly very effective, and it meant that I was NOT having to keep track of all those individual dojos all the time. Of course I gave out individuals, too, when I saw kids doing great things or staying on task during worktime. But by using a visual incentive, and pushing them to work together as a class to stay on task, it helped me. All I had to do at the end of the lesson (or day) was dump a lump sum of dojos to my kids.

    Oh, and this was a 3rd/4th split grade class.
     

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