Rowdy Group of 8th Graders

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Mathemagician, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Nov 6, 2011

    I'm currently teaching a rowdy group of 8th grade math students for a double period of algebra. There are 25 kids, and they are all very talkative. About 7-8 have IEPs, but there is no in class support. It's very rough.

    I was observed in this class, and was essentially told I sucked. I have trouble getting there attention when they are working in groups or something and I need them to focus at the front of the room. I was told that until I find my "teacher's voice", I won't be successful. I don't think I can do that though. I am not a loud person at all. My voice is typically very mellow, and I have to really strain to make it louder (and then I can barely talk at all after that).

    Does anyone have any different suggestions for getting the attention of the class after they work in groups? I was thinking of bringing a small horn in, telling them that it's a magic horn, and that when I honk it twice and say "Class, class", they must respond with "Yes, yes". After a while, they could start to use the horn when they want to speak. I am just worried this could backfire big time on me. Has anyone else tried any similar technique because their voice is not so loud? Any ideas?
     
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  3. NightFire223

    NightFire223 New Member

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    Nov 6, 2011

    Definitely don't do the horn thing, or the "class,class" or any clapping with hands, as it most likely will backfire or cause other problems. i would suggest being "real" if you will, showing them you are a person as well as they are and level will them on an even playing field or at least make them think it is even, like sitting in one of their desk in front of the class and have an adult discussion, at eye level; however, try not to be condescending. after that maybe try to work out a middle ground and try to be friendly with everybody as much as possible but still have a stern hand. but, you cannot demand or force true respect. and the key to that path is giving them respect and treat them like adults.Possibly try to become friends with a few students. Try speaking in terms of which maybe they are more accustomed and try reaching out to them and do more activities outside or inside, or have a discussion on sumthing that is "cool' like brand new sciences, quotes from important ppl and philosophers, great moments in time, and everyday you should include something that is going on in recent times, such as 99%, presidency and help each student find their own opinions and always tell them to such for the truth and go and look at both sides of the story, not what you hear in the news. which ever you think is better for the class, and don't tell them ahead of time so it will be a nice surprise to break away from the norm. Its a hard road but its all worth it in the end.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 6, 2011

    My teacher voice is NOT loud. It can be, like if kids are shoving in the hall and I NEED to get them to stop. But my classroom voice is a fairly normal speaking voice. And heaven help them if every one of the 40 or so kids can't hear it.

    In fact, when my voice gets very low my kids know they're in deep trouble.

    Being an effective teacher is not about being loud or intimidating or anything else. It's about getting the kids to respect you enough to hear what you have to say.

    Reigning kids in from group work is typically pretty hard. My advice would be to drop the group work for now. Keep your classes pretty teacher centered until you get the class under control.

    Transitions are your enemy; they're in invitation to fool around. So consciously think of ways you can elimintate transitions.

    Have work on the board when they enter the room, and ensure that there's always another problem waiting for them. Be uber-prepared, so kids are NEVER waiting for you--that's another invitation to fool around.

    The preceding post had a lot of good ideas too. Consider attending a soccer game or a basketball game when your kids are playing, or the 8th grade dance. You'll be surprised at how differently the kids react to you once they know you really care about them outside the classroom.

    But my primary suggestion is my standard one: work bell to bell, always have another problem waiting for them. Keep them too busy to talk.

    Do NOT resort to gimicks. They get stale real fast: the first challenge for the kids will be to hide the horn on you. Concentrate on making them listen to YOU, not to a horn or a clap or anything else.
     
  5. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Nov 6, 2011

    Thanks for the ideas.

    Unfortunately I have to keep the class mostly group work and activities...the amount of direct instruction is to be minimal as per the course policy. They tend to just give blank stares during direct instruction anyway. I give them work the entire period, but half of them don't care.

    My three honors classes are perfect, and we accomplish so much and are able to do lots of fun and engaging activities. I have gotten all "exceed expectations" for my teaching in these classes, but this one double period class literally makes me dread going to school. I think it would be okay too if it weren't a double period. They get bored after 85 minutes of something they hate, no matter how much I try to spice it up, it's still math to them.

    This is just for student teaching by the way, so I'm thinking when I find a job, I will have to look somewhere where double periods aren't used and/or at a private school where I suspect behavior is not quite as bad.
     
  6. Ranchwife

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    Nov 6, 2011

    My suggestion is to graph their behavior. You simply make tally marks for a period each time a kid's behavior, or the classes behavior isn't what it should be. Then graph that behavior using excel so that kids can see what they're doing. I have been doing this now for 2 weeks and I had classes going from an average of 150 tallys per period, to an average of 8 tallys per period. The behavior changes were amazing. I carry around a post it tablet and just make tallys. The kids stop their behavior as soon as they see me reaching for the tablet or my pencil. At the end of the period, they want to know how many tallys they have and they want to see the graphs and compare themselved to the other classes. I have a very talkative 8th grade class and am still having more problems with them then the other classes. I talked to the kids on Friday in that class and told them that if things don't improve to the level of the other classes, I would start keeping tallys for individual kids and graphing that then have a set down with them and their parents. That seemed to put the fear into them.

    Graphing behavior wasn't my idea, but it works. The link takes you to the thread that discusses this concept. http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=150071&highlight=graph
     
  7. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Nov 6, 2011

    That's really an interesting idea! Do you offer some sort of incentive for getting their tally count down?
     
  8. Ranchwife

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    Nov 6, 2011

    Nope. It's peer pressure and competition that makes this work for my kids. Each class wants to be better than the other classes and better than themselves from the previous day. I've had so many kids say that they're surprised at how much more productive class time is and how much more they learn. I've taught for almost 15 years and this has been the single most effective behavior thing that I've tried with my kids and I didn't have behavior issues to start with, I just wanted them quieter.
     
  9. BadTXTeacher

    BadTXTeacher Rookie

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    Nov 8, 2011

    Do something interesting to get their attention at the beginning of class. I've had really talkative groups and just had to mold them into understanding my expectations by being very clear and concise with praise and redirection. Sometimes being quiet is better than yelling. Try to be as entertaining as you can be and you'll gain some student support. Once you win a few of the easier ones over, some others will join.
     
  10. PowerTeacher

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    Nov 8, 2011

    Look into Whole Brain Teaching. it is designed to address pretty much all the problems you are having.

    The "class-yes" will work fine as long as you pair it with the Scoreboard Game for strong engagement.

    There is nothing wrong with trying new stuff as long as you feel comfortable with it first. Part of what you are dealing with already is habituation, a waning of response to previously successful stimuli. You are going to run into that no matter what you try. Adding new elements, or ways of doing things every so often can work very much to your advantage. Just add one small thing at a time.

    If you use the Class-Yes with the Scoreboard you will not need the horn.
     
  11. bondo

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    Nov 9, 2011

    Great advice, as always, from these AtoZers.

    Since you are student teaching, the 8th grade wasn't that long ago. Remember, it was an awkward time. Guys and girls aren't infested with cooties anymore. Bodies are changing and expectations have increased a lot. CHANGE is the name of the game in this stage of life. A lot of times these kids are just looking for stability and consistency. Also, with all the changes going on in their lives, confidence and assurance is attractive to them. The more confident you are in the way you act and teach the more the kids will be drawn you. The more consistent and stable your classroom the more they will see it as a respite and be willing to do what you ask of them.

    The chart for behaviour is a good idea. In this case, you would be playing on their insecurity of wanting to be the best (or, more likely, NOT last/the worst).

    I hope you find what works for you. Whatever you do, keep working to find a solution. Don't raise the white flag. You will learn so much about yourself, your teaching style, and students through this process. You will become a better teacher through this. Keep your head up, you'll be fine.
     

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