School Climate - please help!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by heatherdc1980, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. heatherdc1980

    heatherdc1980 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2008

    Hello,

    I teach at an inner-city elementary school in Washington, DC. Our test scores are terrible. I've only taught for one year at this school (my second will start next month), but I see one of the problems as school climate.

    We have a sizable number of students who are coming to school and doing just as they please. They refuse to do work, they laugh and goof-off with others, and they walk out of class. Most of these kids are not emotionally disturbed or prone to angry outbursts - they juse see school as play time.

    I teach 5th grade. I spend at least 50% of my time (at some points in the year, far more) fighting children to get them to be willing to be taught. It is exhausting and wastes the precious little time I have to actually educate them.

    I find the parents of these students to be largely unconcerned about playful and defiant behaviors. The ones I have talked to just don't get the importance of school or what they should be saying to their children about the importance of learning. Of course, I have just as many children, if not more, who have excellent behavior, if only because their parents would discipline them were they to get a bad phone call home or bad report of any kind. These children work hard because their parents expect it and encourage it.

    I shouldn't have to tell you that just 4 or 5 kids goofing-off and doing no work COMPLETELY destroys the learning atmosphere. Even if I tried to "ignore" the goofs, the other children and I would not be able to concentrate on anything meaningful.

    My school administration is not supportive with these problems. Students get suspended for fighting and that sort of thing, but students get away with "running the show" in most other areas.

    I have taught for five years, and I do not believe the problem strictly to be my "classroom management," a term which I believe to be a misnomer anyway.

    I really need help to learn how to deal with these students, and how to encourage (mandate?) a positive, structured learning environment. :confused:
     
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  3. MissErin

    MissErin Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2008

    Have you read about Love and Logic at all? This might be something that would work with you and your class. I'm sort of making assumptions here, but maybe the students' needs are not being met at home? You would know your students and parents better than I would, but that could be an issue. Love and Logic is all based on Love and developing honest relationships with students. It gives you strategies and methods for establishing those relationships. I can imagine it would be hard especially with 5th graders because if no one has reached out to them so far, it will take some chipping! I keep thinking of the teacher from CA-- freedom writers who just kept working on developing trusting relationships and presenting learning material that was directly applicable to students' lives.

    Anywho, those are just my thoughts. Hopefully they help, but there are lots of supportive teachers on this board who I'm sure will be able to help out better than I can!
     
  4. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jul 28, 2008

    This is so tough, Heather. I had to leave my last position because a situation very similar. Students were running the school, literally, and there was nothing I could do about it. We had no principal in the building, and they would even try to get physical with us. I have no advice, but I do have tons of sympathy.
     
  5. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    Jul 28, 2008

    Make sure you have a good discipline plan. I took a class on this during the summer. She said have 4 to 5 very specific rules you want. She always has follow directions the first time given. Then have a way to reward those individual students who do well and then a whole class reward. She used mystery motivator, if everyone in class was good for the day they saw if the got a reward. And also have a consequence plan you can live with so you use it.

    We had a tough 4th grade last year and we did grade level rewards. We had list of all the students and if we saw them break the rules they got checks. 3 checks in a 3 week period they didn't go to the reward activity. One teacher sat with the bad kids. It is hard to fight parent's attitudes and admin. not doing what we want. But we thought we need to reward those who are doing what they should.
     
  6. AggieTchr2006

    AggieTchr2006 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2008

    I second the use of "Teaching with Love and Logic." It has really helped me with some of my most difficult students in the past. Another good title to look into is the "Tough Kid Toolbox."
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jul 28, 2008

    I was just talking to a friend of mine who teaches at a middle school and said she deals with pretty much the same thing. Most of her kids are passing, but she feel like she puts sooooo much into trying to get them to learn that it is exhausting and really wearing her down. Can you talk to the other teachers on your team or maybe the administration and see if they will institute some kind of reward system for your grade level.

    My school also has 5th Graders who act as "hall monitors" in the morning, it's a coveted position and kids who normally act up in class work really hard to be able to have the responsibility. Maybe having some sort of community classroom reward where if everyone works hard for this class period the class gets, I don't know a gold star and if they get 10 there's some sort of classroom reward for them-popcorn day or something. If you have several classes they could compete with each other to get the most stars.

    It is a really tough thing to change, I wish I had better advice, hang in there, these kids really need someone who cares enough to want to change the system the way you do.
     
  8. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Jul 28, 2008

    I agree about Love & Logic. It has helped me with my students who like to try and act up.
     

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