Gee, I was hoping to see lots of replies, as I could say the same for my 8th grade class. 8O
I was on these boards this summer, frustrated and confused about finding a job....landed my dream job at a school in the top 10 in our state that I had student taught at. I was also given the job of creating a brand new AP Environmental class. Love it! Thanks for all the great advice!
Anyway, I need someone's help again. I have 6 classes in total (1 AP class and 5 freshman bio), 5 of which are absolutely fantastic and I look forward to them every day. The other class has been a nightmare for me, though, and I know it stems from the dynamics of the kids in this class. I have set up the same management in this class as in my others, which are absolutely wonderful, but the kids in this one are getting the best of me! I absolutely dread 5th hour when they come! I find myself having "imaginary" conversations with these kids after they have left....telling them exactly what I would have told them had we not been in a school. "Brianna, I swear to God I'm going to.....(substitute favorite means of torture in here)!!!!"
There are clusters of them who perpetually talk. They have been informed that they are my only class with homework almost every night because I continually have to interrupt the lessons due to their talking, but they simply don't care. I have separated them several times, sent kids out, informed them that it is rude and inconsiderate to talk while others are asking a question or I am lecturing (which I try to keep to small chunks of time), waited for the room to be quiet before resuming, giving pop quizzes to reinforce the importance of the topic at hand, not allowed them to participate in labs, etc. and yet the second I open my mouth, they immediately start talking again! Nothing is working! Again, I don't have this issue with my other classes.
The situation is difficult because there are several students involved in each of these "clusters" and sending half of my class down to the office in a mass exodus is not an option. Singling students out as an example has not worked.
My superiors have commended me several times on how impressed they are at handling situations in class and my lack of problems (less than 10 all year, and all from this class--spitting water on one another while I was doing hall duty during passing periods, throwing a water bottle across the room, etc.) I do want to handle the problems myself. I feel the students respect me more that way, and it has worked well with the exception of this class.
Any ideas on how to solve this problem? Most of them are good kids, but somehow I have lost control and if I'm going to make a major change, the beginning of the new semester would be ideal. Is duct tape an option?......
Gee, I was hoping to see lots of replies, as I could say the same for my 8th grade class. 8O
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”
If there were only a group of chatterers, I'd simply seat them in corners of the room opposite each other, taking care to observe who their friends are and seat accordingly. Having said that, I will say that sometimes you will get a "bad" class- one that fails, one that talks too much, etc. You may have one of these. I would put it on individuals- you can see who is talking, and I would not tolerate being ignored, and if it keeps happening I would handle it as an outright case of insubordination. (I assume your school has a policy for that.) I teach freshmen myself, and I can say this in dealing with them: you cannot have enough structure. The same latitudes you might give seniors or juniors cannot be given to the freshmen. And they don't handle gray areas very well either- all boundaries have to be black and white, good and evil, up or down. I would not be afraid to send some to the office- provided you have made some attempts to solve the problem yourself, and have documented it.
"Opportunity is often missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
"Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentis telum est"- Seneca
Seperate and isolate the talkers. Put them with their backs to each other in different parts of the room. make them do everything on their own. If a group is dong a lab they do book work. Bore the hell out of them. Make them earn the privledge of doing the group stuff. Structure, Structure, Structure, and put teeth to your consequences. I have discovered that telling a student that they are rude is like tell ing a fish they are wet. They just don't see the point nor do they care. Tell them there is a new sherriff in town and lay down the law. Spell it out very specifically.
Johnboy is right, sometimes you just have a rough group, and you deal with them. This is one of the reasons teaching is so interesting.
One thing that I've done with "difficult" groups in the past is to pre-write a referral for each of the problem kids in the room. You can fill out their name, ID# and their behavior before they arrive to class.
Then, after you have these ready to go, inform the class that your expectations for how class is run are X, Y, and Z (or however many you need) and let them know that you are now imposing a zero tolerance policy for violations of these ordinances. The consequences will be a trip to the office and let them know that you have their referral slips ready if they step even a hair over the line.
Then say, "Any questions?"
You MUST follow through if you take this approach and you may need to remind them of the new rules a the start of every class for two or three weeks.
I did this during my first year teaching (ironically with my fifth period class) and later that year, several of the students in that class thanked me for taking control so they could learn. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Now, I start a no-nonsense approach with every class and if a student is being a little snot in the first couple days, I call them out for a private talk and I speak very frankly with them. The talk goes something like this:
Me: "Are you planning on getting a schedule change?"
Me: "I am in charge in my classroom and if you can't accept that, then you need to get your schedule changed and get a teacher you can treat with respect."
The kid either straightens out or gets out, and they do it because I've let them know that's what I expect.
I've heard that four out of every three people have trouble with fractions.
Thanks John, Mark and Mary!
I appreciate your experience and the help you have given me. I think I will try the option you gave, Mary.
I can already hear them now...."What are you going to do when the whole class is down at the office?" I've heard that one the few times I have sent someone out....or "That's not fair! There were a lot of people talking!!" I've heard that one, too.
I think going through the talking rules, specifically (again!) point by point on the board will help with some of that. Hope it works! I think I also might inform my superiors ahead of time to expect this. That might be helpful.
Do you think it would be a good idea to have them spend detention with ME, IF it happens a second time? It bugs me to know that when they are given detention they go and just sit there. To me, that's not a punishment. I have an "action plan" drawn up in which the student and I delineate my expectations and their behavioral changes to solve the problem.
Mary, you've gotten some great advice! I won't need to add to it.
I will say this, though....five out of six classes you look forward to seeing daily???? 8O Count your everloving blessings! Really! Those are amazing percentages!
Yes, that one class could ruin your entire day. I've seen that before, but I feel sure that if you keep at it, don't ever let them see you sweat and follow the advice of the good people here at t focus....things will work out.
Glad you got the "dream" job you wanted! That's always a plus! :P
"Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once."
Thanks, Billy! Yes, I am very pleased at the way things are going for me my first year. Trying to figure out this crazy class so I know how to handle the situation properly in the future. Thank goodness for the advice and experience of others!
Oddly enough, my 5th period is also a very difficult class. I have instituted 'science detention' as a behavior modification scheme (Of course, my school doesn't have a referral system - no way to track if/when/why a student was sent to the office. They also allow students to text-message while in 'detention' and a large percentage of my students would rather be sent to the office than stay in my class. Which means school-wide discipline is a problem and I do the best I can in class because I know I have no back up at the office. But I digress.)
Science detention involves as gross/boring/difficult of a project as I can come up with - custom tailored to each student. Scraping scum out of a fish tank. Scrubbing desks or cleaning filthy test tubes. Putting chairs up at the end of the day (I have ridiculously heavy chairs at my lab stations). I put their name on the board as a warning and then a check means they have earned their 15 minutes of (science detention) fame. It's actually worked better than other things I've tried - and once word got around about how awful science detention could be, now it's a nice little threat to hold over them and they usually settle down.