Remedial Classroom Management?

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by maynardsong, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. maynardsong

    maynardsong Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2016

    I'm HORRIBLE at classroom management. I have some theories on why: at the beginning of the year, rather than use desks, I used tables that could fit up to six chairs. I did this because I'd have the easiest time circulating and because it facilitated group projects. Unfortunately it also facilitated side conversations when I'm trying to give direct instructions, and by the time I realized it, I couldn't stand the thought of moving out all my tables and replacing them with desks. I also had a few procedures that didn't work out the way I wanted them to (e.g., signing out for the bathroom), and I didn't come up with alternative procedures. So I hadn't established as much routine as I should have. If I got renewed, I'd use desks, and designate small and easy to organize spaces to store various things. Lots of small spaces are easier to keep clean than a few big places.
    There were some things I did (do) right - I use proximity, I rarely raised my voice, I said please and thank you (well, por favor and gracias). But that ultimately amounts to naught. If I hadn't resigned today, I would have been non-recommended for rehire. I have no excuses for it. I sucked at classroom management. Kids complained about not learning because I couldn't control the class.
    I could pass any online classroom management course with flying colors, but in the real world, nothing clicks. It really sucks, because I write FANTASTIC lesson plans, but I just seem to be incapable of earning students' respect. How can I get better at creating a positive learning environment?
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Apr 25, 2016

    The first rule in classroom management is building relationships with the students. Start there.
     
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  4. maynardsong

    maynardsong Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2016

    I mean, I ask the students about their lives and take interest in them. I give positive reinforcement, I word my replies to wrong answers carefully so that students aren't discouraged, and I precede every direction with "please" and say "thank you" when they follow directions. It's obviously not enough.
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 26, 2016

    You have learned the basics of good classroom management. Set your expectations at the beginning of the year, strictly enforce them for as long as it takes for the students to adhere to your rules, and hold them accountable all the time. When your students know that you expect them to follow the rules, they will fall in line.
     
  6. maynardsong

    maynardsong Rookie

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    Like I said, I understand all this, and I did set my expectations at the beginning of the year. I guess I fall apart in real life when it comes time to enforce them in the moment. When I gently reminded students of rules, they usually listened, but those few who didn't - then what? And sometimes it slips my attention when someone has earphones in when I've begun class.
    What I really need is the nitty gritty of classroom management, not just the big picture.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 26, 2016

    I guess the nitty gritty is consistency. If you don't enforce, or enforce irregularly, the students will know you don't mean what you say. Many posters recommend reading Harry Wong, who has some good ideas about management.
     
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  8. maynardsong

    maynardsong Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2016

    Are there any tricks to enforcing rules and procedures consistently? I definitely struggle with that. And I've read Harry Wong too. I'm having a really hard time implementing all the ideas that I know are good.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Apr 26, 2016

    As swansong said, consistency is the key; if the kids think they may be able to get away with something, they'll try it. It can be overwhelming, so start with one thing--which is the behaviour that is having the most serious impact on your instruction? Review your expectation(s) and remind the students of the consequence ("If you are talking during our lesson, you will need to move.") Then, every single time someone doesn't follow that expectation, follow through on your consequence.
     
  10. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2016

    I think one of the biggest things that has helped my classroom management (and like you, I have struggled with consistently enforcing expectations.) this year is coming up with consequences I know can be enforced so I can do so consistently. As a resource teacher who sees my students primarily in small groups, it's harder to follow up on the consequences general education teachers tend to use- loss of free time, silent lunch, etc.

    Instead, I try to keep my consequences limited to simple, relevant ones I know I can enforce. The consequences vary based on the action (and if this has been a problem before or not) but some examples include: writing a list of supportive things we can say to a classmate who is struggling with a problem (after a student was sighing dramatically and whining about wasting time because a classmate was taking a long time to work out a problem), using our "Fun Friday" time to make up incomplete work because they were goofing off, having to clean desks after school for a week after they drew all over them. (This was for a student who was with me at the end of the day and goes to our on site after school program, so I knew I could enforce that and cleared it with the group director that he would be a few minutes late).

    Unfortunately I did not have this epiphany of sorts until later in the year, so I'm hoping that by starting off this way next year I can avoid a lot of the minor but annoying classroom management issues I faced at the start of this year.
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 26, 2016

    This thread reminds me of a Dr. Phil show. People are willing to expose their flaws for all the world to see in order to help many who have the same difficulties. I applaud those posters who are reaching out.
     
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  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Apr 26, 2016

    Maynard, are you a first-year teacher? Most new teachers struggle with classroom management. It does get easier with time. Can you go back to subbing for next year and use that time to hone your management chops? I would also recommend attending a Fred Jones workshop if possible -- it helped me a great deal when I was a new teacher.
     
  13. iconoclaste

    iconoclaste New Member

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    May 7, 2016

    I'll throw my two cents in. This may get long.

    I've been a special education teacher for ten years. For my first seven years, I taught in a level III program. I had some really tough kids who literally drove me cuckoo my first couple years. I felt like I had no control at times and my daily existence in the classroom was extremely difficult. Now, I am co-teaching and teaching resource small group special education classes at the high school level. I have struggled with classroom management, but I also have worked with kids who no one could really get to behave. That's why they ended up in my program.

    Here's my advice on behavior management. First, your behavior management will only be as good as the toughest kids in your class. The well adapted, mature, highly intelligent students will understand what you want, and for the most part, fall in line with your expectations. The other kids will fall into two basic camps: confused or manipulative.

    So, your first task then is to do everything humanly possible to limit confusion. I am a big believer that you shouldn't be teaching to the middle, but you should be teaching to the confused. If you can't rally the confused, then it doesn't matter how well you are teaching to the middle/high because the confused will sabotage everything anyways. Most confused kids will happily go along with anything you request once they are NOT confused. But if you talk down to them when they get confused, misinterpreting their confusion for laziness or disrespect, then you will create a situation you don't want to enter into--the power struggle, which will only lead to your demise. Create accommodations for the confused , so they are content and not stressed out. But more importantly, design lessons that are not confusing. What you perceive to be confusion free, may be the most convoluted stressful experience for a confused kid. And if students are confused, speak to them directly, calmly, and provide them with the next steps, as quickly as possible to get them moving along. Do not make it about them. That is the worst thing you can do.

    Now, for the manipulative. Most of these kids understand what they are supposed to do, often they are highly intelligent, probably smarter than you. These kids are often labeled with EBD. After ten years of teaching EBD kids, I would say the #1 most important thing to do is be very straightforward with the expectation and follow through with an immediate consequence (do not bend, remain calm, and absolutely do not engage verbally with them). Otherwise, these kids will absolutely run you over. You may think you can be their friend, get to know them, pander to their better angels, but in the end, the really manipulative or mentally ill students have much deeper problems that you simply don't have the time or ability to solve in your classroom.

    And plus your responsibility is to the larger group. If there are kids who are manipulating your environment and you don't have the resources to control that student, then they need to be out of your classroom. At that point, it is an administrative problem. This is crucially important for new teachers especially. New teachers are generally going to be young, inexperienced, and frankly unprepared to deal with these most difficult students. It is imperative that you clearly document (referral) the behavior of problem students. Make sure that you write a good referral. Also, I would highly recommend that if you are a new teacher and you have a problem kid, or more, that you are documenting on a daily basis the behavior, even if is just a little blurb, for your own records. This way, if anyone asks, you have documentation of what you have been dealing with. This will serve the purpose of making clear what is happening and show that you have been proactive. Also, it will serve a secondary purpose of providing you with data that could give you some insight into the pattern of behavior.

    Kids need to see you as credible. They need to see that you are in control. There are different paths to this credibility, and that is because we all have different personalities and strengths, but I think when it comes down to it, the structure and clarity of your lessons is the main force to control behavior. Secondary, I would say it is your rapport with kids. And don’t expect every kid to like you. That is ridiculous. Some kids just want to be left alone to meander through their day. They don’t want or need you to be in their business all the time. Often the best relationships develop over a period of time. Give kids the space they need to be individuals, and over time, when they see that you are credible, they will open up to you, or they won’t. And that is okay too.
     
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  14. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    May 11, 2016

    Classroom management ultimately comes down to clarity and consistency. You need to have abundantly clear expectations (and be able to articulate WHY you have those expectations) and you must enforce those expectations 100 percent of the time.

    The two biggies for me are hand raising and side conversations. Those are deal breakers. Any blurted out response, no matter how right or well-intentioned, should receive a verbal warning. And any side conversation, even if it's about your content, should also be met with a verbal warning. Those verbal warnings must build to a sanction of some sort, and you must not be afraid to issue said sanction.

    Just as importantly, give kids precise praise for meeting your expectations. "Thank you for raising your hand to answer, Bob. That's the right thing to do." Stuff like that is incredibly powerful, because it reinforces your expectations in a positive way AND builds positivity and positive momentum in your classroom.

    Finally, the "nitty gritty" of classroom management, as you say, is perfect, beautiful consistency. You are a referee. Once the rules are set, all you have to do is call the game as you see it. Really look at your classroom. When kids fail to meet your expectations call them out every single time.
     
  15. lark265

    lark265 Rookie

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    Jun 20, 2016

     
  16. lark265

    lark265 Rookie

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    Maynard:
    just off the cuff I wanted to say, "Thank you" for your post. I too suck at classroom management but, as a veteran teacher, I guess I was afraid to "come out of the closet" and admit it.....they say you can't improve until you admit the problem.....
     
  17. FrenchSteve

    FrenchSteve New Member

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    Mar 23, 2018

     
  18. FrenchSteve

    FrenchSteve New Member

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    Mar 23, 2018

    Thank you so much for sharing! I still struggle with management, and I've been at this since 1999.
     
  19. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    q
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018

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