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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Am I being too stubborn?

My afternoon class is still giving me fits. Today, we didn't cover nearly as much in that class as we did in the morning class. Mainly because I had to keep stopping the class to discuss rules and expectations.

I start to wonder if I am being too stubborn. I know that some teachers continue through a lesson, hitting all the key points, getting the meat of the matter covered, even if some kids are off task or not paying attention. And it works fine for them, and they are good teachers. But that has just never worked for me. If I see anyone, even just one kid, not paying attention when we are going over homework or a concept, I feel compelled to stop and get him focused. As a result, I often take longer or find myself behind with certain classes.

With THIS class, I feel like I am getting WAY behind! I ask for someone to share an idea, and as soon as that person starts speaking, 2 other people across the room start talking to the person next to them. I say, "Excuse me, the rule in this classroom is that we listen when others talk. She is talking right now, so you need to be listening to her." But then less than a minute later, the exact same thing happens again. And again. And it's not exaggerating to say that nearly every single time someone (including myself!) starts to talk in my class, I have to stop the person (or myself!) and remind kids about our number one rule!

I just don't know how I can make this expectation any clearer! I have signed behavior folders of kids who break the rule. I have rewarded kids nearby who show good listening. I have modeled, we have discussed.

I feel like I am being the meanest, most hard-ass teacher on the planet, YET it still doesn't seem to be having an effect! I had hoped that by being so stubborn and hard-ass at the beginning, that I would stop the problem from being a year-long problem. And maybe it will. But I just feel like nothing is improving.

I am thankful to a good friend who teaches next door, who stopped by after school and said that her friends always remind her that she says her kids are the worst behaved, most awful, most annoying kids ever -- at the beginning of each school year. But that things always get better.

Maybe I'm just forgetting how every year starts. I really really hope so.


Christy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy said...

that sucks, sorry. I had a class like that last year. Fortunately high schoolers appreciate irony a little more than elementary school kids do, so I was able to give them the rule "you can't talk when I am taking a breath between words" and it helped a little bit, but there are some classes I have had that I was never able to get to the level of control that I wanted to. I ended up with putting kids in the hall to work sometimes because they simply would not, or could not, concentrate with certain other people around them. Is it a certain combination of kids? As in, could you shuffle the kids between your two classes a bit to separate some of the talkers? Good luck...I am facing my miscreants tomrrow and I woke up with a migraine today...I hope that's not a sign.

Russ Goerend said...

When I was a student teacher (and now, but picture me as a student teacher for the purpose of the story), I had these same problems. My cooperating teacher said "If they can't behave they can't learn." It sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true.

Another Casual Teacher said...

I've taught some talkers in my class before. I used a "traffic light" system - i had 3 coloured and laminated cards (red, orange and green).
Cards had the following
red - Last warning, if I continue this behaviour I will be going to timeout.
orange - Warning - I really need to think about what I'm doing.
green - this is where I want to be. Doing the right thing.
I laminated each students name.

I had each students name laminated. Students remained on green, if they did something wrong they moved up the traffic light. It worked great for things like talking - because it was non-verbal. If you're working with ESL you could even try visual pics.
Just an idea

siobhan curious said...

I love the traffic light suggestion, but I teach college kids (really 12th grade in some cases, because the Quebec school system is quite different from others.) I have one class this term that is very nervy and talkative, and we meet late in the day, so they're tired, and ramped up on Red Bull and a day's worth of adolescent drama. I think something needs to be done. I'm going to try a little pre-lesson meditation exercise that a friend suggested and will blog about its effectiveness (or lack thereof) tomorrow. I don't know if it would work with younger students, but it might be worth a try!

Julia said...

Sounds like my fourth period, I am fighting the same battle. I don't think you are being too stubborn. HOLD ON! I am fighting them, too, and am equally as stubborn. They WILL do things my way! ;)

Mister Teacher said...

Julia, but is it not KILLING you in the meantime?? I feel SO stressed!

Thanks for the idea about the traffic light. I just feel like I don't have enough time-out corners in my room for all of the red-light violators. And kids that I DO send to time out go back to their seats and pick up right where they left off. Like consequences are of no consequence!

Another Casual Teacher said...

When all else fails - go with wine. I just had a shocking day and wine is making ti so much better

loonyhiker said...

I think you are doing the right thing by being consistent and enforcing your rules. But be careful that you aren't giving some the attention they need and reinforcing their bad behavior. Once I did a class reward system where we I hung paper chains from the ceiling. Each day we added a link if I didn't have to stop teaching to discipline anyone more than a total of 3 times. When it touched the floor, the class got a reward (no HW or a movie etc.)This caused a lot of peer pressure for the kids to behave (especially when my other classes were earning their rewards and this one class was taking longer to get one).

HappyChyck said...

Keep being stubborn. Pride yourself in how you will always win in the end.

Lightly Seasoned said...

Yeah, it does always start out this way. I've already resorted to Stockholm Syndrome tactics with one of my groups (I wrote about it over on my blog) -- not so much as a strategy as an expression of my own insanity. Whew. Really needed the long weekend ...