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-   -   Classroom Management How on EARTH do I stop the arguing?!?! (http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=391571)

mrs_c 02-09-2012 07:25 AM

How on EARTH do I stop the arguing?!?!
 
I'm seriously about to lose my mind. I've tried everything. NONE of the kids get along. I feel like I'm on a constant episode of Jerry Springer. They argue back and forth, shout and tattle on each other all day long, any time someone gets something wrong someone tells them they "just got burned" (Where the HECK did that start?! I HATE IT!). Most of it is whispered to another student, and that student gets mad and yells back, so I usually can't even get on to the student from the beginning. They're calling each other names behind my back, and now they've even started holding up an "L" on their forehead while I'm not looking to another student. They're mean, spiteful, and just downright rude. I've tried doing group work to make them work together, I've tried separating the ones that argue, I've tried silent lunch, no recess, completely independent work...nothing has helped. Please tell me you have a magic solution before I leave work bald!!! I'm going to pull my hair out!!!

nanaof4 02-09-2012 11:48 AM

Mrs. C.
 
Well, i am experiencing some of the behaviors you are dealing with. It must be the time of year, the full moon? Unfortunately, I believe they are modeling what they see in video games, on tv, and at the moviies. I feel like I shovel sand against the tide trying to keep the class quiet and orderly. I feel your pain!

purplexowl 02-09-2012 12:56 PM

Maybe you could try holding debates with students about issues that matter to them in life and in school or whatever you're teaching about at the time. Beforehand pre-set the rules for the discussions. No name calling, everyone's opinions/thoughts matter etc etc. Maybe finding an outlet to argue peacefully in will help stop the bickering? I don't know, it's all I can think of!

Hope it helps. :)

RaYiTa1 02-09-2012 01:21 PM

guidance counselor
 
Maybe you could talk to the guidance counelor and let him/her know what's going on. Maybe the councelor could come up with some kind of lesson and go present it to the students. I would ask the counselor to come in and she always did a fabulous job giving a presentation and an activity with the students. It calmed the waters.

GOOD LUCK!!

alanbourne 02-09-2012 04:53 PM

Ouch
 
Sounds like a pretty unpleasant experience. If you're at all familiar with Tribes, a creation of Jeanne Gibbs, you recognize this as a clear sign that there a lack of community within the classroom. Essentially, they are simply behaving in a way that is entirely self-serving. I know it's hard to conceive of at this point (as another repsponder suggested, it is the time of the year), but it's never too late to try a slightly different tact. Think of the sorts of things we do at the beginning of the year to build that sense of community. The "get to know you" kind of stuff. Except the point is not to simply kill time, but to try to get students to know one another in a way that they previously didn't so that they're getting along becomes not just a nice thing or "the right thing", but mutually beneficial. They not only learn something about the others, but also become known in a way that makes them feel a little more included.
Once you have them somewhat more invested in one another, you can start to build inclusiveness. It's so important for students for feel like they belong. As is true in most classrooms, mine included, the students who are most "successful" from an academic point of view, are the ones who feel the most included. It's usually not those students that cause the problems. Why would they. They don't have any problems, as perceived by both themselves and their peers. Inclusiveness must be generated through ensuring there are opportunities almost every day for students to do something that makes them feel as though they are a valuable part of something larger than themselves. Not everyone has to realize their value, but someone other than the individual themself must see their value and make this known. This is most effectively done through strategic planning and group work, but it won't work if the first part is not established.
Finally, when all feel as though they belong and valued, they are ready to make a committment to the group at large...the community.
The problems you describe don't develop over night so don't expect them to be solved. However, it's never too late. The only thing you must avoid is not trying. There is no easy button for this problem. It takes very intentionally planning with the solution in mind at all times. I suggest you look into Tribes, at least get a taste for what they're prescribing (although Tribes is not a prescriptive thing at all). At worst you might get a little insight about the nature of the problem and from there begin to find some solutions that might work better for you in your particular situation and in your comfort zone. Good luck.

thills 02-09-2012 05:55 PM

I second the Tribes recommendations
 
It works, I use it every year. I start of using it a lot in the beginning and back off after a month. It's just a nice way to build that "family" environment that is the foundation of a solid year.
I also swear by the concepts discussed by Dr. William Glasser. I have one of the best classes year after year because of his ideas. Read, The Quality School. It takes some work, reading, and some training to learn and implement his ideas, but it's well worth it.
http://www.wglasser.com/

ConnieWI 02-09-2012 06:37 PM

Thoughts...
 
TRIBES is a great program. I would encourage you to take a look.

http://tribes.com/

I had a class that tattled one year...it drove me nuts!!! I tried to analyze why they were tattling, and it was all over the map. Some were doing it to get back at someone else. Some were doing it to get attention, whether the attention was positive or negative. Some were doing it because they didn't have any other strategies to deal with conflict. Some did it because they saw their friends doing it. Some did it because I reacted to it and didn't keep my cool.

When I could not take it any more, I put a sheet of paper on the board and a marker on the chalktray. The heading on the paper said "I tattled today!" As soon as a child tattled, he/she wrote his/her name on the paper, and could not tattle any more that day. This helped the children who needed to tattle several times per day...they could now only tattle once per day and they had to decide to use it right away or save it for later.

When a child tattled, I would say "Thank you for sharing your concern." Unless there was blood, I pretty much ignored the tattling. The issues were small, and students learned that when they tattled, I was going to ignore most of the time, so why tattle in the first place.

Another thing I did was have the guidance counselor come in over two weeks (every day) and teach lessons on bullying (perfect for the child/children who is/are using the L on the forehead...personally, I would be calling home immediately about this kind of behavior.) I wanted intensive teaching by the guidance counselor, so that is why I requested every day. The counselor showed many examples of what bullying looked like, sounded like, and felt like. She read books, the students did mini-skits, and they play-acted situations.

I also had the guidance counselor teach the class strategies they had to use before they could tattle. She had about ten of them...ignoring, walking away, I messages, etc. The class practiced each one through role-playing.

If you do not have a guidance counselor who can help you will this, you will need to develop your own lessons. I am sure there are many suggestions on-line for lessons you could teach.

Once they were taught these strategies and still tattled, I would say "Which strategy did you try before you came to tattle?" The child might respond "I ignored." My response would be "I am glad you used that strategy. It seems to me that you solved the problem all by yourself. Please add your name to the "I tattled today" sheet." If the child told me he/she had not tried a strategy, I would say "After you have tried a strategy, you may come back and tattle. Then I will let you put your name on the "I tattled today" sheet."

Another thing I would do is reward those who said positive things to others. You must hear them do this. They can not come running to you and say "I just said something positive to John."

A reward might be writing their name on a piece of paper, putting it in a bucket, and drawing five names at the end of the day to get a prize. (Start small...you may need to do this at noon and again at the end of the day the first and second week. Maybe by week three you can just do it at the end of the day.) Some students will get to put their names in the bucket ten times a day...others will not get their name in the bucket at all. Live and learn...

You will also need to use your report card and the comments section of it to let parents know about a child's bullying behavior. I am sure your report card has a comment about respecting others. If the child deserves an N for needs improvement in this area, then give the N!! Be sure to make a comment in the comment's section. The comment might be: "Your child often solves problems by using unkind words. Sometimes your child is the one who says these unkind words, and sometimes your child hears unkind words from others and responds by using unkind words. _______ needs to use other strategies to solve conflicts. These strategies might include ignoring, walking away, (list other strategies the child has learned)."

Another comment might be "Your child often tattles rather than solving his/her own problems. Our class has practiced strategies like ignoring, walking away, (list other strategies). I would like to have _______ use these strategies rather than tattling. It would be great if you could practice them at home so _______ becomes familiar and confident using them."

I would not use these comments unless the parent is aware of the problem. If I were a parent, I would want to know over the course of a grading period that this is an on-going problem. This will mean conferencing with the parent in person, by email, or by phone. If you see improvement over the course of a grading period, I would make a comment on the report card to this effect.

I noticed on the list of things you have tried, you did not mention calling home. Maybe you have tried this, and it didn't do any good. Maybe you have tried this, and home did not see a problem. Maybe you have not tried this...and I definitely would.

After intensive work with the guidance counselor and intensive training about bullying and strategies to deal with problems, I would let the class know that from now on, bullying will get a warning and then the child will be calling home/parent's workplace. Before this happens the first time, send a letter/email home to parents that tell them that the class has been having a great deal of difficulty being nice to others. Explain how students have worked with the guidance counselor, and what strategies they have practiced. Give specific examples of these strategies. Encourage parents to practice these strategies with their child. Then let parents know that from now on, their child will get one warning and then will be calling home/workplace. I would make sure this letter is returned with a parent's signature.

When a child has a problem, I would take him/her aside and let him/her know that if the problem happens again today, he/she will be calling home/place of work immediately while the rest of the class listens to the call. This is his/her warning. If the child/children bullies/bully again, I would help him/her dial the number and make the call. Before calling, the child should practice what he/she is going to say. You should also speak with the parent so think about what you are going to say. The rest of the class will get the message very quickly!

No matter what you try, you will have to be consistent. As soon as you change the rules for one child, students will see you as wishy-washy and take advantage of it. The student who has to call home is going to cry...too bad, so sad...don't give an inch. The child must call home. You set up the consequences and you must follow through!

Be positive...be strong...don't order a wig to cover your bald spot yet!!!

I hope these give you some ideas.

leasha1027 02-09-2012 07:08 PM

I love your ideas for tattling, Connie! I have this problem in my class too. The thing that works best for me is rewarding or giving verbal praise to students who are "Caught Being Kind." I discipline any students that I hear saying unkind things. They always say that someone else started it, so I tell them that they still made the choice to continue the unkind behavior.

3rdgradequeen 02-09-2012 07:36 PM

class
 
I would definitely build community in your classroom. I teach Tribes every year as my first social studies unit. We teach the rules over and over, act out scenarios, role play, and do several activitis a week. One of the main Tribes rules is NO putdowns, which it sounds like is a major problem.

Teach them how to respond to a put down, role play and practice- correct and incorrect ways. Have them tell the good/bad things.

Each time someone does a putdown put an x on a post it on their desk. 3 x's = lose recess/gym minutes/call home/etc...

Do you do a credits/debits? (Google Beth Newingham) A put down would = a debit on our class.

Pass out paper tickets when you see someone being positive. Every 10 tickets they can get a reward or special privelage or homework pass.

Ask principal to come in and remind them of school rules.

We do a community read aloud about bullying/friendship each Monday morning.

We also do talk time each morning. They have about 10 mins. to talk to each other and then they share what someone else told them.

Right now, we're doing a Kindness Counts bulletin board. Whenever we see someone helping, showing kindness, etc...we put up a heart. Every time we get 10 we have a 5 minute break. When we get all 100 up on the board we'll do some kind of big reward.

When someone does something unkind, we stop, go to the carpet and talk about how that action makes the victim feel, as well as the other classmates. Then, the offender has to repeat how it makes others feel and tell what s/he can do in the future.

Gather the kids and tell them what you've noticed. See if they have any idea about how to stop it. Make charts and review them daily.

Send kids to a lower grade for 15 mins. It might be embarrasing for them to be there. Maybe they'll "get the picture".

When kids are rude, look sad, say you don't like your friends being put down, and isolate them to a different area of the room. After a couple minutes allow them to return. Send them away again if it continues.

Hope some of this helps...yes, it takes time, but if kids are at each other's throats you aren't getting a lot done anyway. Good luck!

mrs_c 02-10-2012 08:29 AM

Thank you all for your ideas! They are fabulous!

As far as calling home, there's two reasons why I don't really do this: 1 - I've tried it and as a PP said, home doesn't think it's a problem. I've actually had a couple of parents laugh at me and say things like, "He hears his dad say that all the time!! Haha!"<!--eyebrow--> 2 - It's honestly every one of them. And the thing is, I honestly don't feel like it's bullying. The kids that are friends do it to each other. It's things they've seen on TV, or seen their older siblings do/say, and they think it's funny. More so than them getting mad at each other, per se, they just get "riled" up. Does that make sense? I know it sounds weird that they're arguing and not getting mad/bulling each other, but that's really what it is. They'll argue and yell at each other one minute, and then the next ask if they can walk to the snack machine together. It's more just a desire to be right.

I'm definitely going to sit the whole class down and do some tribes activities. I also think I'm going to send a note home to the entire class. There are only TWO kids out of my entire class that I can say without a doubt are kind and sweet to the other kids all the time, so I think it'll benefit all of them to just send a note home saying we're having issues with arguing.

Thank you again for all the help. Hopefully I can turn things around before the end of the year. I'm tired of going home exhausted every day because I feel like I've been a judge all day. <!--yawn-->

ConnieWI 02-10-2012 06:37 PM

Mrs. C.
 
I am sorry to hear about the parent attitude and the number of students involved in these behaviors...but that attitude from a parent and the number of students would not stop me from calling home, and it would not stop me from making comments on the report card. I would bet that some of the students in your classroom are imitating their classmates. They have gotten the message that it is cool, and so they have joined in the fun...it has become a means of acceptance.

Parents (and future teachers) need to know about these behaviors. I bet if you asked last year's teacher, you would find that these same children had the same problem last year. This shows a pattern...and it is time the pattern was broken...it is time to be respectful.

By your own description, some students in your class are "mean, spiteful, and just downright rude." In my opinion, parents need to know about this, and report cards need to reflect these behaviors. Whether they can be spiteful and rude one minute, and friends the next minute would not matter to me. The spiteful and rude would need to stop.

Calling each other names and making an "L" on a forehead is bullying. It is hurting feelings. It is causing tattling. It is disrupting learning.

Imitating TV or siblings is not an excuse. Eight year olds are mature enough to know right and wrong. Such behavior is wrong.

Just remember...who these kids really are is what they are when no one is looking. It sounds like many of them are not good kids when people are looking, so imagine who they are and what they are doing when no one is looking.

You should not have to go home exhausted each day because you have been the judge and jury all day. We have all have classes that exhaust us to the max because of their behavior. I had two years during my thirty-two year career. I did not enjoy being their teacher...I felt sorry for the good ones...I was a __itch...and that is what it took to get them in line. Rather than giving me a hard time, parents were grateful that I addressed the rude, immature behaviors.

Good luck using TRIBES. I will be sending you positive thoughts, and hope you find some solutions that work with your class.

gradeteacher 02-11-2012 05:44 AM

Quote:

alanbourne's Message:

Once you have them somewhat more invested in one another, you can start to build inclusiveness. It's so important for students for feel like they belong. As is true in most classrooms, mine included, the students who are most "successful" from an academic point of view, are the ones who feel the most included. It's usually not those students that cause the problems. Why would they. They don't have any problems, as perceived by both themselves and their peers. Inclusiveness must be generated through ensuring there are opportunities almost every day for students to do something that makes them feel as though they are a valuable part of something larger than themselves. Not everyone has to realize their value, but someone other than the individual themself must see their value and make this known. This is most effectively done through strategic planning and group work, but it won't work if the first part is not established.
Finally, when all feel as though they belong and valued, they are ready to make a committment to the group at large...the community.
The problems you describe don't develop over night so don't expect them to be solved. However, it's never too late. The only thing you must avoid is not trying. There is no easy button for this problem. It takes very intentionally planning with the solution in mind at all times. I suggest you look into Tribes, at least get a taste for what they're prescribing (although Tribes is not a prescriptive thing at all). At worst you might get a little insight about the nature of the problem and from there begin to find some solutions that might work better for you in your particular situation and in your comfort zone. Good luck.
Excellent post. Thanks.

mrs.shiny 02-11-2012 09:11 AM

Me too
 
I feel your pain! I too am having the same problems. I haven't heard of TRIBES, so I will definitely check it out. The students truly are mean and ugly to each other. When it comes to recess some of the boys feel they are professional football players - argue and make fun of others who can't play football right. I've taken the football away only to have it happen all over again.
I've seen students put a finger to their mouth reminding others to be quiet. Only to have other students give a shake of the head and an "in your face" look back at them. And the tattling....OMG!!!! I came across a Tattle Sheet in my file and lately I've been using that. Years past the students didn't want to fill it out, it wasn't worth it. This year they don't give it a second thought to fill it out. When a student comes up and starts to tattle I tell the student to take a Tattle Sheet. The Tattle Sheet is where they write what happened, who was involved, who else saw it, how it made them feel, how others felt, then the student needs to write 2 strategies on how they would solve it if it happened again. They give me the Tattle Sheet and that's it. I will read it and act on it if it is necessary, (bullying, physical, etc.) I've found with this group they seem to be satisfied they were able to tell what happened.
I'm too am really struggling. Recently I was sick 3 days and was so happy to be SICK and have time away from the students. I was really sad to go back. But I'm still trying.....

Iread4fun 02-11-2012 03:10 PM

Glad to have found this post! We've noticed this behavior increasing lately, too! Makes me wonder what spring fever will bring... I'm going to try some of your suggestions. I wanted to echo that I think not all of the teasing, name calling and rude behavior is necessarily out of intentional meanness. Have you watched the Disney channel lately? The characters are smart-mouthed and rude to adults, friends, etc. It seems to be an accepted part of culture. However, "not in MY room". :) So, onward to watch for teachable moments and restoring sanity to the classroom. Valentine's Day will be a great time to start!

teachmsylvia 02-11-2012 04:51 PM

tattle tales
 
I have used the same book for years and still have a lot of pages left. I have a "Tattle Tale Book" . When children start complaining a lot and just want to get other children in trouble, I tell them that I have a lot of work to do and to go write it in the Tattle Tale Book. I tell them that I will read it at the end of the day. They get to air out their side of the story and I get to go on with what I plan to teach. For some it takes more to write it out and they decide themselves that it really is not that much of a big deal. After some time has gone by the bickering dies down and that fire was put out.

Hope it helps.

calumetteach 02-11-2012 05:11 PM

This is great! I went on the Tribes site
 
What book do you use? There are so many on the site. Thanks for your help.

diannakds 02-11-2012 08:59 PM

Lines
 
And..if all else fails..handwriting work all day..100 lines I WILL BE POLITE IN CLASS...works for me. At least they will have beautiful printing and aren't wasting time by arguing.

kkim4 02-13-2012 02:24 PM

Thank you!!!
 
I've been teaching a lot of years and can honestly say I've never seen a class quite like the one I have now. You all are writing as though you are living in my class! Between all the impulsivity, tattling, meanness, inattention, learning challenges and selfish behavior, it is hard to teach this group and, as a group, it shows! Test scores are lower, we're way behind on units, and I've modified and simplified instruction to limit the "freedom" and depth I typically give the kids. I'm excited to learn more about Tribes, but most importantly, it's nice to not feel so alone. A group like this definitely makes me question my own abilities. It is so sad that many of the parents acknowledge a problem with their own child but very quickly blame other students... just like the kids do! I don't even bother calling/emailing home much anymore because, other than taking time out of my already insanely busy day, it doesn't help. Good luck to you all... only 67 teaching days left (the kids are counting).

deepdiver 02-14-2012 07:48 AM

Time of Year
 
I do believe there is something to be said about this time of year. For some reason the kids' attitudes and behaviors dip. This year I have a great class, for the most part, but at this time of year, it's like they revert back to the September mode. I try to instill in them that they are no longer in second grade. We are beyond the half way mark of school and they are on their way to fourth grade and they should act like they want to be promoted. It seemed to help. As hard as it is to make time to call and meet with parents, it does help some of the time. I was very pleasantly surprised when a student failed a test on the American Rev. and then got 100% on the retest (which I don't always do), because Dad lit a fire under him. I know I have been wrong about parents' perceptions many times and need to give it a chance more often.

sonshine 02-14-2012 05:01 PM

Two things I've tried...
 
in the past. One is kind of like the "tattle sheet." All tattling had to be done in writing. What was done and to whom? That cut down a lot and also kept a record. (Both to see who was doing the complaining and who was being complained about.) I looked for patterns.

Another thing I've done is had them write their name in a spot on the board and put a T by their name if they have something they want to talk to me about. Then when I have a moment I'll go and talk to them. It's great because usually by the time I get to them it's forgotten or they have already worked it out themselves.

Meemers 02-15-2012 05:49 AM

I love your tattling strategy! When I had a similar issue a few years back, I brought a teddy bear to class. His name was "Toby the Tattling Teddy". I told the children when they felt the need to tattle that they should go and talk to Toby. Believe it or not, it worked. Now I just keep him around in case a child needs a hug or is having a bad day.

mrs_c 02-15-2012 06:13 PM

Update:
 
We spent from 8:00 this morning till about 11:30 doing nothing but tribes activities. We started by talking about what a tribe was and how a tribe has to work together. Then we did the "Five Tribals" activity, and went around (using a talking stick...totally didn't work today, but I told them that every day I'll pick someone who I feel is "respecting" the talking stick, and they get to add some sort of decoration to it) talking about how we felt about our classroom. After that, they all went to their seats and wrote about a time that they were upset and/or heard a put-down in our classroom. Then, we had a "funeral for put-downs"...after I'd read all of their letters, I talked about the similarities between all of them. Almost everyone of them put "name-calling". I then ripped the letters up in front of them and put them on the ground in front of me. We went around the circle again (using the talking stick). One person would stand up, and everyone in the circle said something nice about them. Then that person got to stomp on the "put-downs" that were ripped up. Afterwards, we all picked some up and threw them in the garbage. Finally, I got a big jar and lots of beads. We already have a "be a buddy, not a bully" poster where I add a sticker whenever someone's being a buddy, and whenever we fill it up (100 stickers) we're going to have a pizza party. However, it hasn't been going well, because all I see are the bullies. So, whenever someone says something or does something that makes them feel good about themselves, they can put a bead in the jar and a sticker on the chart. BUT, if I hear any put-downs, I take 5 beads out. Our goal is to have 50 beads still in the jar when we fill up our chart (we have 88 more stickers to go to fill it up, so I explained to them that if I never heard any put-downs, we'd have 88 beads in the jar also, so we'd be way ahead of our goal of 50. But, if people are just filling up the chart and the jar to get a pizza party, but still being mean, then we'll have less than 50 beads when we fill up the chart so we still won't get a pizza party).

Hopefully all of this will work. I feel like we got NOTHING academic-wise accomplished today, but if it leads to a better learning environment in our classroom, then I'm fine with it. My goal is to have a morning meeting each morning, hopefully not more than 20 minutes or so, and to continue using the jar/buddy chart.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement and support! I didn't feel like ripping my hair out today!!! :)

ahawk11 02-18-2012 09:20 AM

I am in the same boat. This post helps so much! Thanks!

Yesterday I spend 30 minutes conferencing with crying students out in the hall. 6 kids all crying for different reasons, and yes, this is in third! One set of girls went back and forth with the, "yes you did, no I didn't" thing. No matter what I did I couldn't get them to understand that one had their feelings hurt and the other didn't even realize she did anything. They were too mad to hear anything from anyone. I ended up just sending them to the office because I was wasting all of my teaching time dealing with girl drama (and I still had 2 crying kids to go!) The Principal didn't even talk to them. They were sent back after about 40 minutes. All they did was quietly sit in the office chairs and they came back like they were best friends! UGH!

In my school if you utilize the councilor too many times word makes it around that you can't handle your own class. Yes, I could use some assistance, but I am not willing to go there again and let everyone talk about how I have no classroom management for the next month or so. I already had her come in once. I guess the ideology is that if it doesn't stop in one 15 minute meeting then I am the miserable teacher.


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