Rough Day at the 4th Grade Office

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by Dr Kevlar, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Dr Kevlar

    Dr Kevlar Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2013

    I was going to post this in the Substitutes forum, but it seems most threads there revolve around issues such as pay and such.

    My question is on classroom behavior and techniques to keep things on an even keel. While many of you are not subs, perhaps there are some things you have used when new to a room that might help.

    Yesterday I was a sub at an urban elementary school, subbing in a 7/8 learning support room. At noon I was asked to take a Gr 4 room - the kids were literally waiting for me to get them from lunch, so there was zero prep/consultation with the room teacher.

    Things went south pretty quickly. They did not follow instruction from the teachers monitoring the hallway and having no idea who I was did not take too readily to directions from me. I had good support from the other teachers and in fact one of the other LS teachers spent the rest of the afternoon with me and one other teacher in the room - it seemed no one could get these guys to settle down. We had essentially the same behavior when the rooms switched (there are 2 Gr 4 classes). I was told later that this has been a really rocky week and that no one was really sure why.

    Behaviors were: talking out, wandering, refusing to respond to directions. I don't know if, or how many students are on IEPs/behavior plans in the rooms. It was classic brushfire: once things started in one corner it spread across the room.

    We did get some things accomplished so it was not pandemonium. What I am looking for are things that I can do to set a tone from jump so that things don't get out of hand next time...

    Thanks!
     
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  3. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Aug 24, 2013

    So there were 3 teachers in the room? And the other teachers were not substitutes? I ask this because it seems unusual to have this scenario. Why would they need a substitute here if they already had two teachers in the room?

    What activities did you do with the students? When you sub in an urban school, sometimes it is best to be prepared with some very engaging activities. That way if the class goes south, as you put it, you can pull out the fun, yet educational activities that will grab their attention and keep them engaged.

    Another thing that worked well for me when I subbed in urban schools was keeping a list on the board of "super stars" for the younger grades, and "rock stars" for the older grades. Getting your name on the list meant a public acknowledgement of your hard work and good behavior. I let them know that I would leave the list up for their teacher to see the next day. I would make sure to get the more difficult students' names up there asap.
     
  4. Dr Kevlar

    Dr Kevlar Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2013

    Schoolteacher, some good advice there. A couple of points:

    First, I was initially called for a full day as a Gr 7/8 learning support teacher. Since the rooms are all inclusion I key off of the room teacher and the materials that I bring will support the lessons. The switch to Gr4, as I noted, was out of the blue. As a result, i had nothing with me for that particular grade level.

    Second, the other teacher was the grade level learning support teacher. She would have been in the room ordinarily for the IEP students to support them while the el ed teacher covers the curriculum. It is not, by design, co-teaching.

    Third, since there was no transition I did not even see the lesson plans until I got into the room with the students. Maybe I am just slow but there are limits to the multitasking - especially when the class is not responding to anyone - including me.
     
  5. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Aug 25, 2013

    "i had nothing with me for that particular grade level."

    Well, therein lies the problem. Next time, bring a storybook, a set of markers, or see if you can borrow materials from other teachers. If you have nothing to bring to the class, the children will quickly find other things to do...
     
  6. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Aug 25, 2013

    Okay, I understand the situation better now. It is my experience as a former sub that this kind of switching is common; either I would sign up for one assignment and be switched first thing, or asked to cover another class later.

    To be prepared for this, I always brought a bag of activities that spanned the grade levels.

    But as you say, the problem was during the transition, when the students didn't respond well. At that point, I probably would have tried just silently writing the names on the board of people who were doing the right thing. You'll catch their attention - they'll be curious about what you are doing, and most will settle down. At that point, I'd start a game of "Follow Me". This is where I would challenge the children to silently mirror my movements. I'd move my arms around slowly, then quickly, then slow it down. Then legs, etc. The key is it must be quiet, and it must be in one spot.

    Then I would call on a person to lead the game. This is a very high interest game, as you will see. While they were doing this, I would check out the lesson plans. If the plans looked like they were viable, I'd proceed with them. If they were along the lines of, "have students read two chapters of the book silently and then write about it", I'd proceed with my own highly engaging plans. (Yes, those actually were the plans I encountered at a middle school with a very rowdy group of students. It was a no-go and I used my own plans.)
     

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