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catarific catarific is offline
 
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How do you handle behavior problems and cheating? (Long)
Old 12-05-2009, 05:42 AM
 
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I have been long term subbing five - 6 grade language arts classes because the original teacher left. I was asked to stay on until a new teacher was hired. I have been there a month and a new teacher will be starting after the first of the year.

Here are my concerns and problems and my venting....

Because the students know I am interim substitute teaching the class, the problems with behavior are continuous - trying to see how much they can get away with - Constant loud talking, not doing homework (homework being the completion of a daily class assignment), chewing gum, eating candy in class, etc. One regular class is wonderful. One advanced class is good - the other advanced class, a challenge. And two other regular classes are always a constant challenge.

It seems their previous teacher really did not require them to do much in the way of classwork or homework. When checking the gradebook in the computer for work completed - there was not too much in the way of grades. When checking students' folders, not much there, as well. In terms of class tests, I could not find any that they previously took.

The students were allowed to chew gum and eat candy in class, were allowed to chat amongst themselves, and were allowed to listen to their Ipods. (All of which are against the school's policy). I have subbed at this school many times, and this is the first group of classes I have encountered that totally disregarded school policy.

Being much more conservative in my teaching approach and philosophy, I instructed the students many times about proper classroom decorum (yeah, right) and about not eating candy or chewing gum in class. Even after 4 weeks, the gum chewing and candy eating is an ongoing challenge. The constant talking, as always, a problem. At least they are not listening to their Ipods or taking out their cell phones - since they know they will be seized and turned into administration.

I have been giving the classes regular daily assignments, homework (completion of daily assignments), and tests which I collect and grade. They constantly complain that they are given too much to do and do not have time to do homework for language arts. If homework is not turned in after two days, they are then given a zero. I have been kind and have not given a late grade as I know many regular teachers do. I am more concerned that they at least do what they are supposed to. Not being their regular teacher and with so many behaviorial issues, this is something I have not pushed.

After each literature assignment (story, poem, fable, etc.), I have been giving them a test. The last test was short answer and matching. I noticed that in my last period class, at least 6 tests had exactly the same short answers (same adjectives, wording) and same matching answers. When I approached these six students, I gave them the chance to admit they cheated but each swore vehemently that this was not the case. I finally said, I will bring this matter to administration (to scare them) and have them sort it out. Well, one student gave it up and admitted that a girl in this class got the answers from a student in a previous class who already took the test - and on post its - copied the answers and gave them out to the students in question. Each student automatically got a 0 (or F) on the test.

The students resent me because I make them do work in class and give them homework to complete.

The students resent me because I do not allow them to listen to Ipods or eat in class.

The students resent me because I do not allow them to interrupt me or to continually talk in class while we are doing a lesson or while I am talking.

In short - the students totally resent me....


I will be with the class for another two weeks. My questions are:

1. The cheating - how would you handle this? Would you bring it to administration's attention or not? Somehow, I get the feeling administration probably would not want to handle this.

2. The students totally resent me because they do not like to have assignments to turn in and they resent having homework which they never had with their previous teacher.

6 grade language arts - are students expected to do homework for that class?

Are students expected to have tests on material covered in class?

Any suggestions regarding this - very gratefully appreciated....



Last edited by catarific; 12-06-2009 at 04:30 AM..
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Some ideas
Old 12-05-2009, 07:01 AM
 
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I can't talk about all of this because I haven't been in a LTS situation. But here are some ideas. You are absolutely right in your assessment of the situation: The kids were allowed to be out of control for a long time, you're a sub and they think they can ignore you, and so they resent everything you do--and you're correct in doing what you're trying to do. Hang in there! I regularly sub in middle school. These kids test and test and test their subs.

Yes, 6th-grade language arts students have homework and are expected to do it. In my experience, they don't have HW every night, but many nights. Yes, they have quizzes and tests on the HW. Yes, they try to cheat. Quick ideas:

Split up the kids when they have tests so nobody can see anybody else's paper. Tough in a big class, but give it a try.

You could even try to create multiple versions of a test so that nobody can share answers outside class. Or maybe just switch up the order of the questions, so that kids can say, "The answer to no. 1 is A, the answer to no. 2 is B" and so on.

Have them begin homework during the class period, so nobody can say they "didn't have time" do to it. Plus, that'll help you on planning because your lessons can be a bit shorter.

Stop them right when they come into the classroom and have them toss gum and food. Keep at them until they do it.

Ultimately, it may be that the only thing you can do is maintain some semblance of order through the next two weeks, and let the new full-time teacher take it from there. Good luck!
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dan4th dan4th is offline
 
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stick to your guns
Old 12-05-2009, 10:04 AM
 
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You have done the right things. If you expect to sub in this school again you must maintain your standards. If you cave, the kids will walk over you from now on. Cheating-call the parents if you think the admin has no backbone. Kids don't want to work or study-give out the zeros and let the permanent teacher worry about it. That's one of the reasons they get paid the big bucks.
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cheating
Old 12-05-2009, 02:15 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry so much about homework. But cheating on a test is different. If two students have the exact same essay question, make copies and show the parents. Of course, many parents could care less. Administration could come in and discuss the gum issue. Don't sweat the same stuff. Deal with the major stuff. And countdown to the day when you leave this environment.
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collteach collteach is offline
 
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Old 12-07-2009, 04:12 AM
 
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I am sad that the administration is not doing more to support you. I think that you are doing the right things. Kids NEED structure and some rules, sadly, they just got away with murder before you arrived.

I taught 7th grade Language Arts for 2 years. Was it always silent in my room, HECK NO! Middle schoolers are social creatures, they really do benefit from having time to talk and work together. I tried to find ways that they could do group work. I did a lot of literature circles. For some novels, students would have assigned jobs so that I could assess and be sure that ALL students were reading and doing their part. I also tried to have some literature circles during the year that were more like a book club. Students would read the books, then discuss the books based on questions I provided. I did these things a class that was really low when it came to reading level, as well as for my "average" and "above-average" groups (my 1st year the students were grouped homogeneously, the next year, students were placed heterogeneously).

My students' homework usually consisted of reading assignments, on-going projects, and grammar/writing practice.

As far as the cheating goes, in 6th grade, the administration should be taking that VERY seriously. I would be sure to document everything, and if you can PROVE cheating (such as the same essay answers, notes a student was caught using, etc), then be sure to provide copies to the administration, as well as the parents. I know that it might seem like a lost cause, but perhaps you can plan a discussion period about cheating. Talk to the kids about why it is wrong, let them think about/discuss how it can affect them in the long run, etc. If students are cheating, then deep down, they probably want to do well in the class. Talk to them about ways they can improve their grades. Maybe offer to give them a 2nd chance on some essays or something at first. And take time to show students what is expected, and how they can get to that point, whether that be through studying, adding certain things to their essays, etc.


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Old 12-07-2009, 09:47 AM
 
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If you have been there THAT long and they haven't found someone ....they are using you. You are cheap labor for them. They don't have to pay you benefits, they can boot you the min something better comes along and they don't have to help you or "invest" in you like htey would a reg. part of their team.

BUT if I were you I would consider myself permanent until told otherwise. Take control. This is YOUR room now. Exact a plan of behavior - I suggest a social contract the kids help you put together. Then have consequences clearly lined out for that behavior. have some clear rules as well such as no food or drink except water, no electronic devices. And as for cheating or plagerism (sorry I can't spell lol) it is an automatic zero. If you suspect after grading a large number have cheated make them retake it on the spot. if they truly studied it shouldn't be a problem - then I'd average out the 2 grades the perfect and the zero. if they flat out get caught it is to the principal and a zero on the paper. It is up to them to not make you even suspect they are cheating. And there is no takling you out of it either.

i woudl also encourage more essage on teh quizes and tests as well as making diff ones and have diff keys and mark them somehow so you can tell them apart. This drives kids crazy and they can't cheat.

As for homework - I'd try to make it anything they don't get done in class and save big projects for homework. It is also not unreasonable for them to be tested. i mean, that is what school is about.

if these things improve, I'd work on finding fun ways to do these things, but first they have to be respectful and learning the traditional way. Good luck and you must be a saint to take this on.
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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thank you so much for all your responses. Today was my last day of the assignment. A new teacher starts at the first of the year. I was asked to go in the first day to be with her which I will gladly do.

More dreadful things happened after I wrote this - but all got resolved some way or other. It really makes me wonder about long term assignments. It is one thing to be paid on an interim scale - but to do this on a regular sub pay - is absolutely insane. I researched and prepared daily lesson plans, I graded papers, prepared tests, went to parent conferences, meetings, etc. But still, the students knew I was a sub and all the discipline in the world did not change that fact that they viewed me as a sub and tried to get away with as much as they could.

Funny though. Today, the last day before winter break, many of the kids hugged me, gave me gifts and said how much they liked me there (which they really did not need to do). But after being with these kids for six weeks - I still am not sure what is made up or true - ha ha! I have learned the hard way that even the little six graders learn the art of manipulation early!

I really do love the school where I have subbed and will continue to sub there. I have found that administrators in the middle schools everywhere seem to be inundated with student behaviorial problems. Having gotten friendly with many of the teachers who were on the same team, even they admitted how students seem to be more out of control than in the past. The teachers on this team were absolutely wonderful and I am very grateful for their help and support.
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