What's the best way to take over a class?

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by jennyjenjen, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Aug 25, 2006

    Hi, I'm just got hired at the middle school where I was an aide. They hired me as an intern SPED teacher for their 8th grade Language Arts and ELD program. For the past month, the kids have had a substitute while the school hired a teacher.

    I have been in the class for 3 days and I feel like I have no control. I have been sending kids out of my class to time out like crazy! I wrote a few referrals, but I still feel like I can't keep them under control. I am arguing with kids constantly and I feel like my authority is ALWAYS being challenged. To make matters worse, I see many of the same students twice a day, once for Language Arts and once for their extra reading class.

    I think it was hard for the students because when I worked as an aide I was always friendly to them because it wasn't my position to constantly reprimand them. On my first day as their teacher I handed out a syllabus with my goals and expectations and asked that they sign and have their parents sign as well. I also gave a syllabus quiz to make sure that the students understood my rules.

    I started calling parents during and after classes but it is hard because many of the students do not have phones or correct numbers on file with the school. Besides sending my whole class out every day, how can I gain control? Now the kids are asking to be sent out when they walk in the door.

    I also feel overwhelmed because I have no clue on how to teach Language Arts. I have a whole shelf on the book shelf that is filled with guides and supplement to the texts, I don't even know where to begin...

    Sorry this is so long.

    Jen Jen
     
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  3. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Aug 25, 2006

    Jen,

    I think you know exactly what the problem is. You have given away your control. Stop sending the kids OUT, and deal with them inside the classroom. Did you establish rules/consequences when you first came in. They are still in sub mode, which means you have to really come down firm. I say go back to day 1 and review those rules/consequences. Enforce them. Also, remember, they are testing you. They have seen another side to you and wonder why you are not being their friend. It will be difficult, but they will learn to accept it once they see you are the real deal. I think the quiz was a good start, but you need to really show these kids you mean business. Anyone can sign a piece of paper, but it's up to you to really enforce the rules.

    Can anyone help you with the curriculum? Do you know what was accomplished before you came in? It is still early enough to recover and you will do great. Good LUck
     
  4. brett158

    brett158 Companion

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    Aug 26, 2006

    My first year teaching I came in durring the middle of the year around December. I went through some of the same problem. I backed up, went over the rules again and then planned a week of fun, hands on activities. FORGET about the curriculum right now and focus on getting control of the class. You can go back and work on curriculum when you have their attention and respect. Planning for a fun week really worked. The kids loved it and if they misbehaved they had to sit out of the activity, which only happened once! I then explained that if we could all follow the rules and learned what we needed to learn, we would be able to do more things like this.a

    Also do you have some classroom rewards in place. Like adding a popcorn kernal to a jar whenever kids are doing well and when the jar fills up a party!! I know one 6th grade teacher who gives out poker chips, each color is worth a different number of points. She keeps them in a apron type thing around her waist and just pulls out random colors to give students when they are doing well. Then she has a "store" where they can cash in their chips at the end of the quarter.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 26, 2006


    Miss Frizz, are you SURE you're not my long lost twin? That is, word for word, what I would have written if I had gotten there first.


    Jenny, Think about what Miss Frizz said. The more authority you give away-- through referrals, even phone calls, the less you have for yourself. The kids see you as one who can't handle problems on your own.

    Go in on Monday prepared to make a new start. Start the class with a cherry hello, then let them know that the party is over. Think over the weekend of what the behavior problems are, and decide on a consequence for each one. "See me after school" is a good start--middle school kids are social animals, and cutting into their free time is a killer. Ten or 15 minutes is enough to get them out of the loop of whatever their friends are doing. And if they're involved in a sport, the coach is likely to be unhappy with them for being late for practice-- isn't that a pity? But make sure that YOU are the one enforcing the consequences, not an administrator or a parent.

    Next, as to the material: I'm a math teacher, so I can't give you specifics. But why not start with something structured: say vocab or spelling? (I would avoid writing or reading for the moment-- it can be more student centered, and it looks as though you need structure at the moment.) Spend some time over the weekend deciding how you'll approach the vocab, for example, and prep a few lessons on that. Let them know that there's a quiz every day this week on the material you're planning to teach; the quizzes have already been made up and will not be changed, regardless of the material you get to covering. The quizzes will all be signed by parents, and there's a test on Friday on the material.Also let them know that you'll be collecting homework from this point on (you can always change that down the road when things calm down)-- it will be unacceptable if messy, incomplete, or late. Then start teaching. The very first kid who is disruptive, even marginally, is told to see you after school, and you write down his name on your list. If he protests, warn him that his after school appointment just got longer.

    For the reading class, I'm a bit clueless..I'm not sure exactly how you teach that, so I'm not sure how you impose order.

    I'm all for positive reinforcement, but I think that comes second to respect. These kids need to respect you as their teacher before any learning can occur.
     
  6. SpedtchrKY

    SpedtchrKY Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2006

    One thing you could do to incorporate lessons on discipline and the specific curriculum is to find some social stories that deal with the specific behaviors. Pick vocabulary and spelling from the stories to use in lang/arts. Have the students do pre/post reading activities using the stories. This will kill two birds with one stone and bring their "real world" into the classroom as most social stories relate to real life issues. If it is appropriate have students present stories (act out, etc.) to their peers in the class.
    Hope this helps-Good Luck!
     
  7. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Aug 26, 2006

    Ok I know you already sent home a syllabus, but when I taught ED kids I had to really lay down the law in my syllabus and follow with appropriate consequences that were fully stated each year. Never did I allow them out of my class unless they were throwing chairs or something. I have copied my syllabus from then, I don't teach ED kids now I teach life skills, but each year after I read all their IEPs, then I would label the consequences, but I never allowed late work. The 1st 2 weeks of school I was very tough and took no crap then I loosened up, but I also took different stances on things than most teachers do, I made one kid who was sleeping in my class stand beside his desk or I shot them with water guns to wake them up, I cannot do that now no water guns allowed at school, I made one kid who shot girls with rubber bands come into school early and shoot one rubber band into my trash can a hundred times each time he had to go back and get said rubber band, for ones who cussed I made them call their guardians right then and there and tell them what language they had just used in my class, I was tough but I also had a sense of humor about it, I never had a cussing problem after the 1st week and once they realized I was not sending them to helping teacher they began to act right. Here is my syllabus, I f you need to send an addendum to parents because you found there were certain gray areas in your class guidelines that students were not understanding, parents would be fine with it and you know what after 2 days if it is not back give them a detention and let them know this, they will get it back.

    Focus and Goals

    All Basic English courses will center on functional English skills necessary to meet an expectation of independence in today’s society. Courses will focus on writing, grammar, spelling, phonics, short stories, non-fiction, fiction, poetry, reference skills, and reading comprehension. Skills we modified and taught at a level to meet individual needs.

    v Grading Policy
    Major 50%
    - tests, projects
    Daily assignments 50%

    - quizzes, homework, daily class work, written work


    v Materials and Supplies
    The literature book, novels, and other related books will be checked out to the student through classroom teacher and may remain in the classroom. Therefore, it is not necessary for that those to be traveling back and forth on a daily basis. The grammar text will be checked out to the student by campus.

    The following materials and supplies will be needed every day:
    Three ring binder or large folder for calendar, notes, handouts, etc.
    School issued texts such as grammar, vocabulary workbooks, novels, etc.

    Ink pens, pencils
    Loose-leaf paper


    Additionally, I ask that students bring the following so that we will always have an adequate supply of these frequently used items.

    Pencils/pens 3 poster boards scissors
    4x6 lined note cards construction paper map pencils
    Loose-leaf paper glue stick 2-100 sheet spirals

    v Expectation of Students

    In order to make class time more productive, I expect each student to be prepared with work and supplies, to give his or her best at all times, and to follow all class rules and procedures. Each student must be prepared to work from bell to bell. Choose to have a positive attitude!



    v Class Rules

    I believe all students can behave appropriately. Respect is the name of the game in my class. I expect all students to be respectful of school property, their peers, and people in authority. All students will be expected to follow all the rules and guidelines outlined in the student handbook. Be forewarned: I will not tolerate any behavior that disrupts, antagonizes, or offends. Repeated failure to comply with class rules and policies will result in disciplinary action.

    v Guidelines for Coursework
    1. Follow directions at all times. This means you must listen carefully when these directions are explained.
    Write in ink. Any color of ink that is easy to read on the page is acceptable. Pencil will only be needed on scantron exams.
    Use loose-leaf paper for handed-in assignments. Paper torn out of a spiral is not acceptable.
    Write legibly. I cannot grade what I cannot read. Besides this is an area that is often neglected, and you should learn the importance of legible, neat handwriting as a matter of accuracy, courtesy to your readers, and a source of personal pride. This may be the first impression you give to a prospective employer or college admissions officer, and you want it to be a good one.
    Maintain a one inch margin around the top, bottom, and both sides of your paper.
    Do not write on the backs of pages to be handed in and graded.
    Do not skip lines between paragraphs. (This doesn’t make your paper any longer.)
    Be aware of when assignments are due. Since assignments in this class are made well in advance and since you should maintain a calendar with which to keep these dates marked, your grade will be severely impacted if the assignment is late.

    v Make-up Work
    According to school policy . . .

    v Late Work

    In all BHS English courses, any major assignment that is turned in late will be penalized 10 points per school day. ** Note: every school day, regardless of “A” or” B” rotation counts as a school day for the purposes of determining late work. After the fourth school day late, the teacher will assign a grade of zero. Major long-term assignments are due on the due date regardless of absences or circumstances. This policy ensures the integrity of the assignment. Additionally, major presentations are expected to be given on the assigned day regardless of absences leading up to that date. If a student chooses not to present or participate on his/her given date, an automatic penalty of 20 points will be deducted as the student’s next opportunity would occur two days later. Be problem solvers! If absent for ANY reason, get the assignment to the teacher, whether by email or delivered by a parent, sibling, or trusted friend.

    Daily work and homework will NOT be accepted late.

    v Cheating/Plagiarism
    A grade of zero may be given for work on which a student has cheated. Cheating includes such acts as copying during a test, sharing answers or test questions with other students, copying information on any assignment in which an individual grade is given, or plagiarizing. Cheating will not be tolerated in this class. It is in your best interest to come to me if you have any questions about this. In all endeavors, I encourage you to display personal integrity, for actions speak louder than words.





    Dear Parents & Guardians,

    I am excited to have your student in my course this year. Please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding any questions or concerns you might have. Please sign below to indicate that you have read over my classroom policies and expectations with your student and return the section to me.

    Thank you!

    Looking forward to a great year,











    Please detach here


    The signatures below indicate that I have read and understand the policies and expectations for English class.




    Student Name: _______________________________________________________________


    Student Signature: ____________________________________________________________



    Parent/Guardian Name: ________________________________________________________


    Parent/Guardian Signature: _____________________________________________________
     
  8. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2006

    Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas. Today I had a talk with every class and explained that we were not going to have a repeat of last week, we reviewed the rules once again, and I did not send anyone out. I let them know that most issues would be settled with me in class, either right then or during detention.

    I did put 2 students in the back of the classroom to copy a page out of the dictionary. The first student apologized for his behavior and we had a very nice conversation about how frustrated I feel when he chooses not to listen to me (using lots of "I " statements of course). I asked him how he felt when I get frustrated with him. After we talked for several minutes I let him rejoin the class and he was an angel for the rest of the period. I wish I could say things went as well with the second student. Every day he insists that I am unfair and I punish him w/o warning. He is one of the ones that asks to be sent out several times a period. How do I reach students like him? I tried calling his home last week but the number I had for him was disconnected.

    On a happy note, a student that wrote a referral for last week is behaving much better now. I called his mother on Friday and let her know that her son was well behaved in my class, I guess she passed on the good news to him too :)
     
  9. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Aug 29, 2006

    Good news Jennyjenjen, I hope things get better each day
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 29, 2006

    I'm glad it went so much better!
     
  11. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2006

    You have to remember to not lose control. Remember, that these are God's special angels, and should not be mistreated because of it. Like you, they are here for a reason and shouldn't be labeled rejects of world and any mistreated is ok to give to them. Having the labels they have already is enough to have to deal with, don't you think? I know it's hard to be a special ed teacher, but just think how the special child must feel not be able to do like the rest. Having no friends, having people make fun of them, and people mistreating/bulling them for a probelm that they can't help. I'm sure God's reason to have them here is not to be treated like this.
     
  12. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Aug 29, 2006

    Who is mistreating these "angels"????? From what I've heard Jenn has beed doing her best to manage her classroom. No one has labeled anyone a "reject" or mistreated anyone. Please re read the post!
     
  13. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2006

    Their attitudes are slightly better

    I think I'm getting the hang of this but I'm having a hard time keeping them in their seats. Any suggestions? The 1st day I rearranged desks and assigned seats and I think they really resented me for doing that.

    Also, how much do you let "slide". Several teachers said I have to let a lot of behaviors "go" because I will drive myself crazy if I try to stop every little annoyance. I think I understand that much, kind of like "choose your battles", but how much do you let go?
     
  14. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2006

    I wasn't saying anyone on here was mistreating kids. I was just trying to say that it is really hard, I'm sure, and it can get to you at times. Even a saint can lose it at times. Sorry if you took me the wrong way.
     
  15. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Aug 30, 2006

    I just wasn't sure what you were referring to. That's all. Yes, you have a good point there.
     
  16. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Aug 30, 2006

    I nip all my bad behaviors in the bud, BUT once I have them stopping those bad behaviors, new ones form, so I think that is what your fellow teacher was reffering too, you will always have bad behaviors and unles those behaviors are major or you see could turn into worse behaviors, then maybe you over look a few like gum chewing or something.
     
  17. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2006

    It's ok. Do you know of any teacher that have mistreated kids badly? I do. Would you like me to tell the story?
     
  18. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Aug 30, 2006

    sure.
     
  19. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2006

    Hi, MissFrizzle. Go to Emotionally Disturbed teacher. I have told the story there. Thanks !
     
  20. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2006

    Things are still improving

    Everyday feels a little easier, with an occasional off day. I had a situation today and I wasn't satisfied with the way I handled it.

    An 8th grade girl started getting mouthy after I changed the seating chart for the entire class. She was upset that I moved her away from her friends, there was a group of about 5 girls so I moved each girl to a different corner and had 1 girl in the middle of the room. So she was being very vocal about the new seating arrangement and refusing to do her warm-up. She would continually talk back after I asked her to get to work. So eventually I got so frustrated that I told her (in a very condescending tone) "Listen little girl, you are behaving like a child an you need to stop." She got very upset at me but she got to work.

    If I feel bad about what happened, so should I brush it off or take her aside and apologize tomorrow? I was thinking of talking to her outside and telling her that I get frustrated when she behaves like that and I really want her to succeed in my class. What do you all think? TIA
     
  21. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I know you must feel bad, but in all honesty, I would let it go and just remember to handle it a little different next time. It worked. Be glad:angel:
     
  22. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    I ditto MissFrizzle
     
  23. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2006

    Why?
    You wasn't as bad as some that have mistreated my friends son. I know my friend would be please if this is all a teacher ever did to her child. You just told the truth. The kid was acting like a child. Just like the asst principal that was playing hide and go seek with my friends son's notebook. You seem to have a good heart about you. Do you think for one minute that any of these people I have written about would apologize? Shoot ! My friend would win the lotto twice before this would ever happen, and they did a lot wrose than you did.
     
  24. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Wow, that was an asst. principal? I'm sorry your friend's son is having bad experiences. Did your friend say anything?

    Thanks for the compliment, I try to keep a good heart, but sometimes I lose my cool. It is very funny, since that incident the girl has been very well behaved and asking what she can do to improve her grade. I guess she realized she was acting like a child.

    Thanks for all of your support, it has really helped me get through the past few weeks.
     
  25. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Sep 8, 2006

    Hey, Jenny, Kudos to you for backing up and starting over with your class - some would have walked away figuring that there was no hope! I think that the steps you have taken have shown the class that you are firm but fair! If they are behaving like young adults, you can treat them like young adults. The first two months you have to lay the groundwork for the rest of the year. I always said that (way back when I was a teacher) the first few weeks or months are torturous, but after that there is a relative calm in which you can get so much done! Don't worry about being off-curriculum right now. Once they are behaving, you will probably get twice the work done!!
    Again, Congratulations. You are an inspiration!
     
  26. Good1

    Good1 Rookie

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    Sep 9, 2006

    This girl (your student) has more sense about her than the asst principal did. LOL
    I bet if my friend said something like you did to your student, it still wouldn't click with him, or he would keep acting like a jerk.

    Everyone loses their cool, even the best of moms do. It's how you deal with it w/o mistreating a child over it that counts the most.

    I always put myself in a special ed student's frame of mind. They did not ask to me here, they didn't ask to be slow learing, and they sure in the hell didn't ask to be mistreated because of something they have no control over. My friend and I think a like when it comes to the well-being of children. We think like this..

    JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN SO CALLED "NORMAL" .. DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOU WILL LEAVE THIS WORLD NORMAL.

    Then mean people should answer this question ..

    If this was YOU .. how would you like it if you were mistreated like this?

    No ! The mean people think like this ..

    OH, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME.

    Oh, yes it can.

    IN LIFE .. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT IS AROUND THE CORNER FOR YOU.

    If we did, a lot of us would have taken different roads.
     
  27. jennyjenjen

    jennyjenjen Rookie

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    Sep 9, 2006

    I think I will print this out and pin it on the bulletin board by my desk. I think that is a great way to think about it. Every morning I remind myself that my students didn't ask to be placed in SP. Ed., but by the end of the day my attitude and frame of mind change. I think a little reminder will help me stay more positive through the day. I also think I will keep a bag of M & M's in my desk to keep me smiling ;) Thanks for the "reality check"
     
  28. sdgs62

    sdgs62 New Member

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    Sep 9, 2006

    You start with the most obvious behavior. No you can't get them all. The rest will come in time. And it will not all happen overnight. It sounds like you have already seen improvement. As far as teaching the language arts. You can always start with nouns and verbs. Most students remember what they are, and it is great when they can tell you what they are during discussion. When working with elem. I started out with two word sentences (Birds fly.) and added to it.
     

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