Worst start to the year :(

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by kimberly121, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2008

    I started my first year teaching this past Wednesday. By Friday, I was in tears at the end of the day.

    I teacher Eng 1 and 4 at a relatively new high school. I just found out on the 2nd day of school that the incoming class of freshman is the worst in terms of behavior... 3 of my classes are comprised of freshman. And only one class so far is really awful. I did diagnostic testing Thursday and Friday. They chitter chatted on Friday, laughing, talking, making noises... I tried several times to get the focus back on the test... I had started the class with rearranged seating, ending up moving kids throughout the period. Nothing worked. I pulled out a stack of referrals and started working on those for the 5 or 6 troublemakers and plan to turn them in Monday if the behavior continues.

    I wouldn't say I'm completely frustrated or disheartened but I am a little. I had hoped my first week would at least go somewhat well but no. By Friday, I was not nice nor did I pretend to be. I am completely new to teaching (no student teaching, no subbing) so the disciplining caught me off guard. I didn't think I'd have to implement it quite so soon.

    I guess this is more of a rant than anything. Thanks for reading if you did.
     
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  3. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Make sure to focus on classroom behavior/management and be strong, consistent and structured with it.

    As for the whole this class is the worse ever - I've heard that before and I don't if it really ever is true - I think people say that because they forget how it was with the other group of students, etc.
     
  4. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Start off with a strict schedule and rules, don't relax them until a few months in. You have to make sure that they don't feel you are trying to befriend them - you're the teacher, not their pal.
    Don't feel disheartened, but start fresh on Monday as though the last few days had never happend.
    You can do it!!!
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Aug 17, 2008

    The strict schedule is the key. You need to plan out every second that they are in your classroom. Time them for everything. "You've got 3 minutes to get the warm up copied." Move on. "You've got X minutes to do Y." Whatever. Keep the chunks of time small and move forward no matter what (at least at first, until you get control). You'll probably have to do this for a couple of weeks. Don't worry about it being fun. They're having plenty of fun right now on their own. Once you get control, you can do more "fun" activities. Right now, it's about establishing order. Be firm and consistent, stay calm, don't yell, and just keep pushing them forward. You're going to think, "Yeah, but I'm not really teaching them right now." Well, you aren't going to teach them if they're out of control, either. Get them settled, then you can teach.

    Like Kidatheart said, act like Monday is the first day.
     
  6. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Also, I would make referrals your last resort. If you're pulling them out already, they know they've won. They know they can push your buttons and make you lose control. Don't show them that. Don't take anything they say or do personally, because it's not personal.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 17, 2008

    High school kids can be so wonderful in so many ways, but they also can be absolutely awful. They've had years to hone their "Irritate the Teacher" skills, and they're very good at doing just that.

    I think it's fair to say that most new teachers are surprised that they need to start doing the classroom management thing so early in the school year; you're not alone. What many new teachers don't realize is that the beginning of the year is the time when most students are going to test you and see how much they can get away with--so this is the time of the year when we have to be on our toes. You're figuring that out the hard way, but at least you're figuring out out! You're already ahead of the game! :)

    Go in on Monday with a fresh attitude. Talk to the students and tell them that whatever discipline plan you've been using hasn't been working exactly as it should have been. Go over your expectations again, very thoroughly and clearly. Go over the consequences for inappropriate behavior again, very thoroughly and clearly. Avoid becoming emotional (angry, upset). They don't need to know that they've gotten to you.

    On Monday as students begin to test you (and they most definitely will), follow your discipline plan from step 1. At the end of the day, call home and speak with every single parent, if that's what you need to do. By Tuesday, you might see a huge decrease in the number/severity of inappropriate behaviors because their parents yelled at them. If not, go on to the next step in your discipline plan and offer detention or whatever. (It might be a good idea to have detention forms ready at hand with the main information--student name, ID number, etc.--already filled out. Students will see that you've anticipated their inappropriate behaviors and that you mean business. Plus you won't have to waste class time filling out paperwork.)

    What are your classroom rules? Maybe we can help shape them into a set that works better than what you have.

    What is your discipline plan? The members here use a variety of discipline strategies, so we might be able to help fine-tune yours.

    It's going to be okay. I can just about guarantee it. I had a horrible class during my first year teaching. While they never really got any better, I got better at learning to handle them. The only time I cried because of school during my first year was immediately after that class one day. (I'm really proud of myself that I managed to make it until Christmas without crying on account of the class! Hey, I needed every bit of motivation I could find....It was hard walking into that class every day.) That class felt like a school of sharks just circling me. It was terrible, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was very happy at the end of that year. I learned a lot from that experience, but the most valuable things were a) don't let them know that they've gotten to you, and b) come down fast and hard on inappropriate behaviors. They might not have cared for me (heck, who are we kidding? Those kids hated me.), but they did tone down their behaviors (somewhat) once they realized that I wasn't going to give up just because they were a bunch of jackasses.
     
  8. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Oh my gosh! This sounds horrible for you! First off, set those referrals aside (or at least the majority of them). The kids will be laughing because they will know that YOU don't know what to do, so therefore you are sending students out. Instead, take control.......don't worry about academics just yet. I agree with the previous poster.....if they are out of control, they won't be learning anything anyway.

    When they return tomorrow, start the class with a discussion on what they would all like to see in terms of a productive, respectful classroom. Maybe they would like to use their Ipods silently while doing their assignments, etc. Chart their answers. Also chart what they would not like to see (non-productive behaviors, disrespectful, etc.). Come to a conclusion of what you can all live with.

    If your kids are not even able to participate in this because of their poor behavior, then everyone sits silently.....no talking, moving, joking. This is where your referrals come in....those few who are so disrespectful that they refuse to even sit quietly....they leave!

    You will have to get your message across that you want a nice environment but they will have to cooperate for this to happen OR.....it will be miserable and silent each and every day.

    Finally, once the behavior is under control, establish a "first few minutes" routine that is the same EVERY day. The first few minutes of class will set the tone for the remainder of the class. As a new teacher, I changed things constantly because I kept learning better ways of doing things. BUT....I would have been better off by keeping things consistent and SLOWLY improving......that way my kids wouldn't have been bouncing off of the walls not knowing what to expect!

    PS....I had no student teaching either.....CRAZY!!!:rolleyes:
     
  9. michelleann27

    michelleann27 Cohort

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    Aug 17, 2008

    I hope every thing gets better for you. Will keep you in my prayers.
     
  10. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Everyone has such great advice, I'm elementary so I'm a whole different ball game, but I agree with what they say, be consistent and don't let them see your stress if you can help it. (I always tell the student teachers I work with that kids are like dogs, they can smell your fear and uncertainty.) I'll be keeping you in my prayers.
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Kimberly121, you've been given great advice. Cassie shared some great insight about her first year. One thing I would like to mention is to try to not let the info of "worst class ever" mean that much to you. It's nice to know that maybe you need to really be on your toes with this group, but don't set low expectations for these kiddos, they will pick up on it. They may truly be a rough group of students, but that doesn't mean they will be that way in your classroom. Keep them informed, keep them engaged ... they will come around (maybe not without a struggle, but it will happen).

    Bell Work is an essential part of my classroom management. We are required to monitor the hall between classes, so my students need to be on task in my classroom while I am outside the classroom door. If you don't do something like this, try it:
    1. laptop status is on the board (students look here to see if they need to login at beginning of class, if they need to be charged for later, of if the laptop stays in the bag).
    2. Bell Work is posted on the board (a PowerPoint slide titled DO NOW with one of the following: prewriting activity, problem solving puzzle, comp check from previous class, vocab to know for the day, writing prompt for journal, etc.) I expect this to take 5-7 minutes. Instructions for bell work include what to do upon completion (pass it forward, put in tray, keep, exchange with a student ... whatever is required for the next activity).
    3. While students complete bell work, I take roll and greet the whole class.
    4. When it looks like about 75% of class is finished, I say, "you've got 1 minute to finish up."
    5. We launch into next activity.

    Once you get the hang of it, it's like clockwork ... AND, the best thing, the students groove on the structure.

    The first couple of days I peek around the door and say, "there are instructions for you on the board." They learn that time is limited and they better "get on it" if they want to be ready for the remainder of the class.
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 17, 2008

    It's been mentioned here many times before, but why not take a look at Power Teaching?
    http://homepage.mac.com/chrisbiffle/Menu38.html
    Go to the free downloads and read through Teaching Challenging Teens. You might find that it's just the tool you need.

    I'm going to the Power Teaching seminar in Hemet, CA on Saturday - even though it's a 2-1/2 drive, I'm excited! :)
     
  13. Engsis

    Engsis Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Hi Kimberly,

    I'm sorry to hear the first few days went that way for you. You really need to establish rules and consequences as well as procedures to organize your class. In addition to that, you should find ways to connect with your students.

    There is a website that gives great examples of scripts that teachers have used to establish rules and procedures on their first days. I think it might help you to follow these models (they have really helped me!):
    http://teachers.net/gazette/MAR03/wong.html

    When using your script, make sure you give a copy of a code of conduct to your students (with rules and positive and negative consequences). Also, give them a copy of class procedures and expectations. Spend this week reviewing these. Don't begin teaching this week; just focus on reviewing rules and procedures.

    While doing this, don't forget to connect. Students need to know that you care about them. One thing I do is, after spending a half of a period going over my rules and expectations, I say, "I've spent a lot of time telling you my expectations. Now I want to know yours. What are your expectations of me as your teacher this year?" I then have students write a personal letter to me. By the NEXT day, I make sure I've read everyone's letter and written my own personal short response to each one. The letters reveal a lot of things and also give you a chance to look at their writing. There are many icebreakers you can do also to help you to start forming relationships with your students. They are ninth graders; maybe you could have a frank discussion with them about their feelings on starting high school.
     
  14. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    I did hand out a syllabus the first day and followed a few examples but I don't think it contains enough information.

    How in the world do I introduce a revised syllabus?

    Thank you for the link to power teaching. I like the scoreboard idea to start with. Does anyone know when the seminars will be, other than this Saturday?
     
  15. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Kim, say to them, "Now that I've had a chance to get to know you a little, I think I need to revamp some of what I had originally planned to better suit your needs and to make sure you are successful this year. Here's the new syllabus..."
     
  16. SciTeacherNY

    SciTeacherNY Companion

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Like previous posters said, try to resist the urge to use the referral slips, at least in the very beginning.

    I would probably start over entirely. I would make up a class contract where the students "make" the rules. I use the word make loosely because it is a guided process. Then the students sign the contract. It gives them the feeling they are part of the process. Also this class will require a lot of modeling behavior. Recognize positive behavior, no matter how small. Such as "I like how Johnny is sitting quietly, ready to work" Finally I would call EVERY parent.
     
  17. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    Well, I did have them do small group work the first day to come up with a list of things they want in a classroom environment and things they want from their teacher. I already planned on making the "class rules" from those (without the request for 'no homework' though the power teaching scoreboard would be a motivator for them not to have homework).
     
  18. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 17, 2008

    I think the Power Teaching seminars are about twice a year, but there's a mini-seminar coming up - here's the info:


    Good News: However, we are offering a special, free 3 hour presentation.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -----------
    “Mini-Conference: Teaching Challenging K-12 Students (and the rest of your
    class, too!)”
    9 AM-Noon
    August 30, 2008
    Crafton Hills College
    Yucaipa, California
    (see directions below)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ----------
    We’ll cover the core strategies for Teaching Challenging K-12 Students but
    we will not have grade level breakout sessions.

    The Very Good News: As of now, we have 500 seats available!

    Let me know as soon as possible if you’re planning to attend.

    *****************************************************************
    Reservations are absolutely necessary. Please reply as soon as possible to
    this e-mail telling us how many will be in your party.
    *****************************************************************

    thanks!,
    Chris Biffle
    Philosophy Department
    Crafton Hills College
    Yucaipa, California
    92399
    jcbiffle@crafton.sbccd.cc.ca.us

    Directions to Crafton Hills College, Yucaipa:
    From Redlands, go east on I-10 and get off the freeway at the Yucaipa
    exit. Turn left over the top of the freeway onto Yucaipa Blvd. Go
    approximately a mile to the second stop light; turn left onto Sand Canyon
    Drive. Take the first right onto campus. Park in Lot F.
    From Palm Springs/Beaumont: Go west on I-10, get off the freeway at
    the Yucaipa exit, PAST Calimesa. Turn right onto Yucaipa Blvd. Go
    approximately a mile to the second stop light; turn left onto Sand Canyon
    Drive. Take the first right onto campus.

    ---> Park in Lot F. Take the path to your right as you leave the parking
    lot and look for signs directing you to the Performing Arts Center.
     
  19. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Thank you! :)
     

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