Teaching Remedial Classes and Scared

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by applesnap, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

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    Dec 18, 2015

    Where I live, high school begins in the tenth grade. Students who failed grade 9 science take remedial science when they enter grade 10.

    I found out today that I will be teaching remedial science next semester. I'm panicking right now because I have no idea what I'm doing.

    This is my second year teaching. As a student, I was always very academic. My background is physics, and so for the past two years I have been teaching mainly physics courses, which also tend to be very academic. Even my student teaching was in a physics classroom.

    Basically, I have no idea what I'm doing. What should the atmosphere in a remedial class be like? What types of activities should I plan? I'm scared that behavior issues will come up, because I haven't really dealt with that too much yet. What do I do if a student comes to class smelling like weed? My boyfriend spent part of last year teaching remedial math and these are all issues that he has encountered.

    The other problem is that I am a very awkward person. I have trouble connecting and building relationships with students, which I know is so so important in those remedial classes. I build relationships in my academic classes easily because the students can see I am working hard to help them understand the material and they respect me for it. But that's not going to work in a remedial class. I am not funny or entertaining either. Basically I am having visions of my career ending over this... I don't think I am well suited for it at all. Where do I start? Can someone help me figure out how to approach this?
     
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  3. teachsph2008

    teachsph2008 Companion

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    Dec 18, 2015

    I would first find out if the main goal for these students is to pass state testing or to get credit for the 9th grade, hopefully it's the latter.

    If it is for state testing, you need to talk to one of the curriculum specialists or whomever it is who handles test prep. Request all available resources, books, workbooks, online programs. You don't want the students to get bored.

    You'll need the same for students who just need the credit, but I think you'll have more flexibility with this group because it won't be all about the test.

    To get an idea of how to teach these students, I'd refer to the text you used for your physics class and look at the activities for remediation or even ESL.

    If you don't have a text, Google it or look on Pinterest.

    As far as behavior goes, I think that is what you mainly need to be prepared for the first day of school next semester.
    Teach/model procedures
    Explain your enforceable/realistic consequences
    Do an interest survey (this will help if you need to have some kind of reward system in place)

    But most of all, you should just be yourself and this might sound corny, but you need to reverse your thinking. Believe that you can do it and you will act accordingly. If you go in frightened or unsure, the students will sense it
     
  4. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Dec 18, 2015

    I've taught remedial English, and I found it essential to overplan the class period. Try for three "moves" per class, and try to minimize downtime.
     
  5. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

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    Jan 1, 2016

    Actually, it's neither. I live in Canada, and this particular course doesn't involve government testing. The curriculum for this course is different than what the students studied in grade 9 as well. The goal is for them to complete the 10th grade science curriculum.

    This is one of my main concerns. I've been talking with people who have taught this course before. Some of them have used a very hands-on approach, and others have told me that hands-on just becomes chaos in the classroom. So, I'm kind of confused about what type of classroom atmosphere I even want.

    You'll need the same for students who just need the credit, but I think you'll have more flexibility with this group because it won't be all about the test.

    All good ideas - I will be using these. I have not really had to deal with consequences much yet, so I will have to think about these... I am trying to think of what behaviour issues I might encounter and then how I would handle them, but I am having trouble coming up with anything =\ If anyone has suggestions I would be happy to hear them.

    Thank you for your advice.
     
  6. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

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    Jan 1, 2016

    I agree that this is important. How long were each of your class periods? This one is 90 minutes, and even my top students often have trouble paying attention for 90 minutes.
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jan 2, 2016

    Ouch! 90 is a long time for remedial students. Our classes are 55 minutes.

    Do you have access to online videos and a projector? If your curriculum includes the basics of physics, check out The Science of Stupid for short segments that both illustrate a concept and are very funny. Actually, there's a lot of great science videos. Combine a video with having students write about a concept. Use some small group activities. Even something as simple as putting a process in order can be an effective strategy. For example, we go back to school Monday, and my students finished the first three acts of Hamlet before the break. I broke summaries of the acts into 12 parts each, and I'll give groups one act to put in the correct order, then have them read them to the class. Short activity, gets everyone's head back into the play, and then we move on. I have high school seniors, and I use manipulative type activities a few times during the year.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 2, 2016

    If you're teaching integrated science, perhaps you could break your periods into mini-periods, dealing with a different science in each and having very short brain breaks in between in which students stand up and stretch or move. (You could perhaps even have the brain break teach science concepts.)
     
  9. teachsph2008

    teachsph2008 Companion

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    Jan 2, 2016

    In my experience, as both a para and teacher, I've found that for this kind of class, less hands-on is the way to go. This could also be because I personally just like these on the calm side and more structured. I've seen the hands-on approach work to a degree, but these were the "outgoing/loud" type of teachers.

    However, since you have 90 minutes to work with, you'll need something to break up the monotony. You could try a variation of the following:
    *Bell ringer: Journal writing or something they do right when they enter the room. This way you can do attendance and what not, plus it will start them off on the right foot.

    *Direct instruction: videos, power points, lectures etc..
    *Independent work: worksheets, books, foldables and/or interactive notebooks
    *Mini assessment/review-Goformative, padlet, Jeopardy style games (check out tpt), flashcards, projects
    *Brain breaks or sponge: Brainquest, riddles, Kagan

    Possible behavior issues
    Tardy
    Excessive talking, including profanity
    Getting out of seat without permission
    Refusing to do assignment or actually any request
    Sleeping
    Eating in class

    Consequences
    You'll have to check with your district. Many districts have some kind of system for this. I would think that things like being tardy, cursing, or fighting would fall under the district's guideline. You will likely have more personal input as to how you manage the others.
     
  10. laf10

    laf10 Rookie

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    Jan 2, 2016

    I definitely agree with the posters that have said to have a structured class with at least 3 different activities over the 90 minutes. I teach sped high school so they are also pretty unmotivated but I rarely have major issues in my 50 minute class periods because I keep them busy the entire time. You look into stations--rotating through different activities may help keep their attention longer. I teach English, and we always have a read aloud going that the classes vote on--I give them choices and I read it aloud at the end of class. They have occasional assignments on the read aloud so they need to be listening plus they get a "listening grade" which means they have to look awake. If I can't see their eyes (and they're open) they lose points that day. It works pretty well. I know it's not an English class, but you may could incorporate some interesting science reading (have you seen Wonderopolis.org?) or even science fiction that you read at the end of class. I love that we end with that because whether we have 10 or 20 minutes left, we have something we can do until class is over.
     
  11. tiki7719

    tiki7719 Companion

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    Jan 3, 2016

    I posted a thread a few weeks back (similar to this) re. teaching science in a 90 minute block-- although I'm teaching resource room science. I am having the same difficulties as the original poster.

    I was introduced to a site called NewsELA. Check it out as there are articles for the students to read and a quiz to go with it. The articles are sorted by Lexile Level and the quiz can be used as an assessment :) Check it out, and good luck.
     

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