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4048 4048 is offline
 
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multiple disruptions
Old 11-21-2017, 07:50 PM
 
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Just when you think you're getting good at this often thankless job, some event happens in a classroom that makes you wish you were out digging ditches for a living, or, better yet, I should have stayed retired. I was warned about these clowns. One period of H.S. Ag. contains all those who need military boot camp; and this could be their only salvation. How do you respond when multiple disruptions occur simultaneously, people are shifting around to various unassigned seats at the beginning of the period? It becomes impossible to determine who is who as you won't get a truthful answer. The fact is, I suppose there is but a small handful who start most of any giver ruckus, but it spreads like wildfire. Marching the entire class to the office is tempting, but not the answer, nor is "old school or biblical" common sense.


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it's like...
Old 11-22-2017, 03:01 AM
 
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putting out fires. Days like this happen to anyone. But the key is knowing how to manage and dealing.
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Old 11-22-2017, 03:20 AM
 
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"Choose your battles..." is the sage and perhaps old school advice that comes to mind. So does "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" (a bit biblical).

Get 'em "working" and focus on the one or two who start doing the right things... personally, I'm not sure I'd be too worried if kids aren't in the "right" seats. I'd be more concerned with what they are doing while sitting (which is better than running around) in the seats of their choice. I have even said to kids, "Would you at least pretend to be working?" That usually gets a laugh. It's an attempt to get us all on the same side. That might mean making your "deal breakers" significant and not sweating the small stuff.

I often take attendance by counting. If I'm supposed to have 18 kids and there are 18 in the room, everyone's present. If I only have 17, then I only have one problem to solve-figuring out who is missing. Is it a boy or a girl? Can I narrow down the problem to make it manageable? If I truly can't take attendance, I might announce that I'm marking everyone absent. In the truest sense of the word, they are all absent if there's no order in the room. I've also focused on getting everyone seated and working, then take attendance one kid at a time during the class by looking at names on papers, computers, books, etc.

As long as I'm using pithy sayings, "You eat the elephant a bite at a time." It sounds like these kids are used to controlling their environment by making chaos the norm. Chaos from the student's perspective creates freedom. If there's any magic involved, it's probably found in an understanding that "freedom" is always relative.

It's a lot harder to try to manage 18 people (the whole class) than it is to manage one. Just as the ruckus spreads, so can order. One becomes two, two becomes three...

The word "triage" comes to mind. This stuff is not easy, but neither is digging ditches, really.
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Old 11-22-2017, 05:15 AM
 
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A little off topic, but lately I've noticed every time I read a post from you, I'm thinking "hey, I do that too!"

This time it's the "at least PRETEND to be working, please." More often I tell them to get a book out and at least pretend to be reading it.

I do think humor helps in these situations. If the quiet kids are laughing at what you're saying, the disruptive kids usually want to know what they're missing. Pretty soon you've got everyone paying attention and you've been able to restore some order. Doesn't always work, but it does sometimes. Particularly with the kids that you aren't going to be able to get to settle by just being stern...they aren't afraid of you, they don't respect you, and they don't care that you are in charge. Humor helps to win them over.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:03 AM
 
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If this is middle school or high school, I would just let them do what they want to do. We had a HS sophomore who got mad at life and murdered 2, shot 6 total, just because the little snow-flake was pissed off. He was planning to gun down kids at the school, but instead, he took his daddy's guns and went to the nice quiet little library and shot up all the people waiting to check out books, and the ladies trying to help them. I would not want to be on the bad list of any little murderer like that.

They absolutely know that no one has any power over them. They do what they like. The state has taken away the power of "corporal punishment" over them by teachers/parents/ and elders. The place where they will see any kind of dominance is in their work lives (the threat of with-holding paychecks) or the prison system (where I think most of the kids in the HS around here will end up).

When you pester them too much, you get into a shouting match. The office hears about it, and you, the sub, will be written up. You will not hear about it until something goes wrong, and they have a stack of "documentation" regarding what an awful and insensitive person you were (yelling at kids and actually expecting them to do something).

You can see I am going crazy....


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Old 11-22-2017, 07:17 AM
 
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I've been there too, and I know exactly what you're talking about. It's a shame that taking attendance and managing the class is sometimes a big ordeal.

Sometimes you can "read" a class by watching them come in. If they enter calmly and listen to you when you start to speak, you know it won't be hard. If they're loud and obnoxious, with many of them moving around and fooling around as the bell is ringing (and right after too), you know it will be one of those classes. When this happens, I delay taking attendance for a few minutes. I might notice that a student with a green shirt and another with a red one appear to be major ringleaders. Learning their names becomes a major priority. I'll take attendance, no matter how long it takes, because this is my only chance to learn their names. I'll make a little note on a separate sheet of paper for myself that identifies these difficult students by shirt color. If I need to write a referral later, it becomes easier. Of course, this isn't foolproof because you don't always know who will give you trouble later. Elementary students will tattle on each other and give a fellow student's name, but middle and high school students usually won't.

If it makes you feel better, these clowns often aren't much better for their regular teachers. Last year, I had a couple classes like the one you're describing, and was back at that school for another teacher the next day. The previous day's teacher thanked me for subbing and added, "Welcome to an average day for me."

Several years ago, I subbed for a high school social studies teacher, and one of the classes had a number of very difficult students. I knew one of the nice students slightly (our families know each other, but not well), and happened to see her somewhere outside of school a few weeks later. She immediately apologized for the actions of her classmates, and told me that the regular teacher has trouble with these students too.

To Cattleya:
You're absolutely right. In all of the public discussions about education, the subject of violent students should be near the top of the list, but isn't because nobody wants to take it seriously. Those on high who think they have all the answers wouldn't last one hour if they had to actually teach some of these students.

A number of years ago, I often subbed in a high school that had a mix of very high and very low achievers. I once subbed for a young teacher who said something like this in her note:

Second hour: Some of these students get angry easily, and might become violent. They could seriously hurt you or others. If they aren't bothering anybody, say as little to them as possible and leave them alone.

I followed her advice and didn't have any problems. At the same time, it left me wondering how she was able to do any real teaching.
I put that school on my "don't go back" list, but felt bad for her because she couldn't just walk away.

Last edited by c6g; 11-22-2017 at 07:53 AM..
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Old 11-22-2017, 09:14 AM
 
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I also have used, "At least pretend to be doing something," at the high school level. I know some of them won't do the work so I do use that phrase (sparingly) as I wander around the classroom!

I have been very lucky as the jr. hi. and hi. school near me have students that are well-behaved. There are one of each of these further from me that I just won't go to as the behavior is worse and the students do nothing.
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4048 4048 is offline
 
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Disruptions
Old 11-22-2017, 05:55 PM
 
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Thank you, friends. I found each response extremely helpful. Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas.
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:57 AM
 
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I only sub occasionally , but if the teacher has a seating chart I always make sure they are in their right seats. Even in the "good" schools, there are children who will challenge this. But I wait till everyone is in his right seat. If there is no chart, a disruptive student gets moved to another area. Unless it's some small, studious honors class, allowing them to sit wherever they like, or work with a friend or two on a class assignment is not a good idea. They will get loud really fast and you will spend the rest of the period arguing with and shouting at them to lower their voices.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:49 PM
 
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I rarely have to do this, but sometimes I resort to announcing that I will be taking attendance at the end of the hour. If they have something they're supposed to be working on, then I tell them I'll take attendance from the name on the paper.

I tell them that they can hand in a completed paper with their name on it, or they can hand in blank with nothing but their name on it.

Occasionally, students will protest and tell me that I can't mark them absent because they are there. I explain that I have no idea who they are, so there's no way for me to mark them present. Invariably, they then tell me their name.

Even though I make a point of trying to remember the names of these troublemakers, I tell them that there's no way that I can remember everyone's name, and if they want to be marked present, then they'll need to give me a piece of paper with their name on it.

Things still remain chaotic, but it does restore a certain amount of control.

Another trick I occasionally use is filling out one or two passes with everything but the name filled in, and then post these in the front of the room, to the principal or assistant principal. On one of them, I write, "student continued being disrespectful and disruptive despite repeated warnings." I tell them that it looks like I need to set an example, and I'll use one or more of them. I rarely have to use it. But when I do kick one kid out, that generally helps the others settle down.

On the other pass, to the principal's, I write, "student wishes to make complaint that substitute teacher is being unfair." I tell everyone that they have an absolute right to make a complaint about me, and that they can take that pass at any time and go complain to the principal. So far, nobody's taken me up on the offer.

Finally, I'm not particularly good at remembering names, but when some kid gives me a fake name, then as far as I'm concerned, that's their name for the rest of the day, and I repeatedly address them by that name.

Fortunately, I only rarely have to resort to these tactics, but they can restore a certain level of control.


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Old 11-25-2017, 05:05 PM
 
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Well, it’s said that great minds often run in the same channels. Maybe we are channeling each other.

I definitely use a lot of humor, obviously not at the kid’s expense. My rule number two is “We will enjoy learning.” I de-emphasize obedience but still run a tight ship, if that makes sense. I try to make behavioral issues about problem solving.

Another line I use after explaining the problem. “I can solve this, but I am not sure you’ll like my solution, so it will probably be better if you come up with one. Have you got some ideas or options?”

I think techniques like that diminish the power struggles. I use the word “we” a lot. If a kid really pushes me, I will ask him “Are you sure you want to have this contest (argument) with me?” That often stops the action and I can ask, “What are you hoping to accomplish?” or “What are you trying to gain?” Tone is important... I really want to hear the answer! Maybe we can find a different way to get that result.

I also agree that we need to focus on the kids who are in line... if I have just one kid on task, she gets my attention. I get small victories. “When you are sitting up straight with your pencil in your hand, i’ll be over to help you.”

I bet you have also found that getting a kid to pretend often gets him started. I have gone over and said, “Whoa... either you are a good pretender or you are finding that more interesting than you expected. Be careful or you might actually start enjoying yourself and learning something!”
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Just when you think you're getting good at this often thankless job, some event happens in a classroom that makes you wish you were out digging ditches for a living...
One school I sub at the nurse thinks nothing of interrupting when she wants a student or students. If you pause even for the briefest moment she is like "I NEED BILLY AND SUSIE FOR THEIR VISION SCREENINGS!" The office is just as bad over the intercom. Rather than look at a student's schedule to see where they are, the "all call" button is used to page the student throughout the school.
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