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First year - Need DESPERATE help with my class!

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Birdie86 Birdie86 is offline
 
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First year - Need DESPERATE help with my class!
Old 08-28-2015, 04:20 PM
 
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Sorry this is long, but I'm really in need of advice and tips.

I'm in my first year with Kinder and I am in need of some strategies/help. Today marked the end of our first week of school, so I know it's still early, but my group just does not listen well AT ALL! I feel bad because a handful of them are awesome and are great listeners, but the rest are not and I have 22 of them. We've been going over routines and procedures and rules all week, and maybe I'm just teaching them wrong or not well enough...but I can't get them to stop talking over me, or interrupting me, or getting anything down that we've practiced and modeled. We've gone over raising hands if you have something to say, not getting out of your seats to ask me a question, etc. but they can't seem to get it. They're always all over the place, or asking me what they're supposed to do (even though I just modeled it for them), I've showed them and expressed how I want them to sit in their chairs and on the carpet but they can't seem to do that right either. It takes me many extra minutes to even go over an activity or read a book or get them in line correctly because they constantly talk or mess with each other! I'll tell them I'm waiting for their attention, and they'll know I'm not happy, but they just continue on like they dont even notice anything (and literally, they don't!). All they want to do is play but I'm not going to even introduce my social centers or work centers until week 3. Not until they can show me they know how to follow directions and know my expectations. I don't know what else to do. Everything is a disaster. Following directions for just about everything from in class to lining up to walking in the halls and lunch room and dismissal...all a wreck. They constantly talk to each other and touch each other and goof off and it takes ages for me to get all their attention. I feel like I have to yell just to make it happen, and then once I'm done it's right back where we started. Coming into the class and following the correct steps by hanging their backpacks, putting their folders in the bucket, turning their attendance card, and sitting on the carpet for announcements is just about the only thing they've mastered. All I can do is think...if they can do all that just about right, why is everything else so much more difficult?? Even the "rotation" teachers (art, PE, music, computer, etc) have problems with this class the most compared to the other kinders.

Am I doing something wrong?? I feel like I'm constantly raising my voice at them (partially because I'm frustrated/mad and partially because i'm trying to get my voice louder than theirs so they can hear me!) and it makes me sad. I love these kids and I want them to like me AND like school. I don't want to yell at them. What can I do? Any advice for me? Maybe I'm not teaching these expectations and procedures right but I don't know how else to do it from the way I am. Like I said I'm in my first year, so I'm forgetting a lot of things to teach or probably don't know the best way to even do it. I'm modeling, I'm explaining, but I'm probably forgetting a lot of things too. The important things like rug expectations, seat/table expectations, lining up/walking in halls, where we put things, how to play with the things i've introduced, etc. have all been taught multiple times to them. I have a chime I ring when i need their attention or it's getting to loud and that works, but I'll ask them to quiet down and once I stop talking after that chime, they don't listen and go right back to the loud noises or talking they were just doing. I have a behavior clip chart I've implemented (same as the rest of the kinder team) and everything, and they hate moving their clips down but then minutes later go right back to doing what made them get their clip moved. I have a whole group incentive we get when we earn a certain amount of compliments by another teacher or staff member, but they seem to always forget about it or don't care at the time.

When I student taught at the beginning of the school year in Kinder several years ago, this was not happening with that class. I could go on and on about my group of kids right now but I think you guys get the gist! I'm having trouble with them following directions and listening to me when I am talking and not bothering or talking to other people. What can I do? They don't raise their hands, they shout out all the time, interrupt me all the time, come up to tell me stuff all the time, have a question about everything all the time, and I'm so nervous about when we do guided work and literacy center rotations...I HAVE to get them on point or else that will be a disaster. I need help please!


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Don't get louder!
Old 08-28-2015, 04:56 PM
 
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Okay, first take a deep breath! I know it feels like a disaster and it's probably not what you had in your head as what your classroom would look like at the end of one week, but you will be okay! I'm not going to hit everything you mentioned, but here are some ideas/tricks/thoughts I have:

1) Do NOT get louder as they do! It's not helping the noise level and it's probably adding to your anxiety and frustration. I struggled with this last year- they would get louder, so I would get louder, so I would get more anxious because I had to talk louder, so I'd talk louder, and on and on... My goal for an entire week was to modulate the level of my voice. I felt so much better at the end of each day, plus my voice wasn't all scratchy!

2) try having them model the skills and procedures. First have them show your the wrong way to do it, then see how fast they can correct it when you give a signal. Basically, turn it into a game! Or, do it incorrectly yourself and have them correct you, kids love to be right!

3) try teaching in mini lessons. This is probably the first time your kids have had to sit at a desk/table and be still and silent, they don't have the stamina to attend for very long. Teach a skill, have them practice, then take a 2-3 minute brain break. If you have a projector, look up kids dance videos on YouTube (I always watched them beforehand to make sure they could do the dance in their area) or look at go noodle.

4) do you have a visual that tells them it's time to be silent? A red light, a shhhh! Smiley face, whatever would fit for you. Put it up every time you expect them to be silent, maybe create a portable nor to bring with in the hallways. That way you can just point to it and your expectation is always there.

5) do transitions in the classroom have to be silent? If they move from area to area within the classroom (obviously this won't work in the hallways) find or create a transition song for them to sing. It doesn't have to be fancy or long, but it gives them a chance to use their voices. (Example to the tune of Frère Jacques: I move quickly, I move quickly, to my seat, to my seat. Find the one with my name, find the one with my name. Sit right down, sit right down.)

The first week is rough, regardless of grade level, but kinder is especially tough! You will survive, and there are plenty of people who have felt how you feel (I made a jump to self contained sped this year, so I'm lost and overwhelmed like it was my first year all over again!) and are willing to give suggestions. Please take care of yourself too! I know it may seem like you don't have the time, but take a night off (I refused to allow myself to do work Friday nights my first year, no matter how much work I had to do) you need to recharge so you can head back on Monday ready to do everything we have to do!

Last thought: if the other kinder classes don't seem to be having this much trouble (and they may be, it's just not as visible to someone outside that classroom!) have you talked to your grade level team? They may have ideas or could share thoughts on how they taught procedures this week!
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:43 PM
 
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I feel your pain. The first 6 weeks of Kindergarten are not for the faint of heart. You'll be fine.

There are probably 6 children, which is a lot, who are causing all the problems. To find out who they are, let them have a free-play time. When you let them play for a while, say 15-20 minutes, take a look at who is doing what. I bet you'll find the 6 that are causing problems, you might already know who they are. Then you can focus your attention on those 6 children. When you find those 6 children (or 7 or 10 or whatever number it is), be on top of them saying things like "It's not your turn" "Your voice is too loud right now" "In my class, we don't touch other children like that" and the magic words "you're not allowed to [do that] in my classroom". When you say "do that", be very specific. By saying the words "in my classroom", they might infer subconsciously that it may be okay at home but it's not okay here in your classroom AND it shows that you're the boss of the class and they aren't.

When you're talking and they talk over you, interrupt them saying "it's not your turn to talk." Make this a mantra.

Make everything you do into a game--eg: "can you walk in the hall so quietly nobody knows you're there?" When they are cleaning up, say "STOP!" wait for them to stop and then quietly say "go", 10 seconds later, say "STOP!" and then go. Keep going until everything is cleaned up. My kids always love that game.

When you show them how to behave also show them what it looks like when you don't behave the expected way. YOU do the misbehaviour, not them (because then they'll all want to misbehave) and really play it up. I've been know to roll on the floor and flop around bumping into kids, hollering, doing all the stuff that makes teachers crazy. I tell them that's how they look. I have REALLY long legs so when I flail them around, it looks almost dangerous and I know I look ridiculous Ask them to tell you what you've done wrong and fix it. Then have them all show you how to do it the way you want it done.

In my experience, whole group incentives and clip charts don't work. They reward the children who are already behaving the way you want and the ones who don't understand what you want are mystified by the clip chart or, as you suggested, they don't care. What I do is focus on the children who aren't behaving and work on them--you'll still have to pay attention to the rest of them but they'll take less of your attention that the 6 outliers. Do you have a time-out place? It's a very useful thing to have--mine is "get off the carpet and sit on the floor on that square. I will let you know when you can leave." (it's just one of the squares on the floor, nothing specific) Use the time-out thing sparingly though because, as you say, you want them to like school and think it's fun.

You'll be fine. They'll be fine. Next week will look completely different.
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Old 08-28-2015, 11:43 PM
 
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The first six weeks are all about teaching, practicing, reteaching, and practicing all the routines and procedures the children have to go through in a day. It takes time and practice to get a routine/procedure into the memory and become automatic.

Some classes are just full of the wigglies. Many of them come from homes that are very loud. They may have to be loud to compete for attention. My class last year had to work on soft voices inside as well as eliminating the blurts.

The children have to learn your voice. My grandpa always said, "if you need to get a group to quiet down, lower your voice. They will get quiet to hear you. The more you raise your voice, the louder they will be."

I use a lot of songs, finger plays, jumping jacks, Simon Says type activities as transitions. They're working on counting, literacy skills, left/right; they're getting the movement they need; they're using their voices. They are little. They don't have a long attention span or much stamina, yet.

I've softly said, "If you can hear my voice, clap once." (those who heard clap). "If you can hear my voice, clap twice." It doesn't take long for children near the listeners to realize they're missing out on something.

When you introduce new materials you may need to allow time for exploration before they are ready for the lesson.

I've taken classes to where there were lines on the ground/floor. We practiced walking in line--hands at sides, space in front of tummies. From time to time I would stop abruptly, so the children would learn to watch the front of the line and not bump into the person ahead. Any time they needed a refresher, we would go walk lines again. (I've had this work with 3 year olds--within a week or two)

A couple of great resources:
Whole Brain Teaching--you can also find videos online demonstrating some of their techniques.
HeidiSongs There are freebies to download; there is a little story about Wiggles at school; and there is a blog with helpful suggestions.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:37 AM
 
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First I apologize I accidently posted this in the First Grade thread! Second, thank you so much for your replies! I was beginning to think it was just me and only me. I was becoming so discouraged and questioning myself as a teacher. I guess until I see improvement I may still do that, naturally, but I know I'm good deep down but its hard to still believe it when you can't get order as well as you thought you could.

I've tried some of the suggestions you all have given me, but what can I do if I'm ringing my bell, or counting in an "inside voice" waiting for their attention, or doing a "clap once if you can hear me..." but some of them STILL won't pay attention and keep talking and interrupting? This has happened and then I get mad and I know it only makes it worse if they see you mad/frustrated, right?

Thank you again for the responses, I'm going to re-read these come Sunday night so I can refresh and really try a completely different, and more calm, approach come Monday.

[THREAD HAS BEEN MOVED TO KINDERGARTEN BOARD ]


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Practice!
Old 08-29-2015, 06:56 AM
 
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We practice EVERYTHING! For attention signal - I talk about what I want them to do. Then I model it. Then I have one child model it. Then have a child pretend to be the teacher and I model it again. Talk about what they saw, what they heard. Then do it wrong. While one student is the teacher, do it a couple times yourself with one thing wrong each time (not looking at teacher, body moving, etc.). They think it's so funny! Then have two children model, then a small group. Then the whole group tries it. Praise the good you see. Practice it till they get it perfectly once, then give them a reward (skittle, high fives, WBT Oh Yeah, etc). Do it again. When you think you're going to die from boredom, go on to other activities, but make sure they have many chances to practice attention signal that day and subsequent days. If it's not perfect, do it again and again till it is, then reward. Any time they don't do it right, take time to practice. Do this for every. single. procedure.

Kinder is so hard at the beginning of the year, but they do get it. Make sure you're not emotionally invested - it's all about them and how much they are learning, not how it affects you. ("Wow, too bad! You didn't get it right this time. We'd better try again!") Good luck! Kinder is the best place in the world!
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Breathe Easy (sorry this is long)
Old 08-29-2015, 09:04 AM
 
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I feel your pain. I had such a wonderful class last year, but they were talkers! I had 3 behavior systems going on. I think the first thing you should do, is recognize those who ARE doing what you expect, whether it's sitting still however briefly it may be, or not talking to a friend. "Wow! Mary, you are such a big Kindergartner following my directions, that you can take your shoes off if you'd like." If we were sitting on the carpet and some were beginning to lose it, I would walk around and lightly touch ALL the good listener's heads and say, "If I touched your head, that means you get to take your shoes off (or, "the sticker fairy or Skittle fairy has come). I'm not above giving a Skittle or M&M to those who've earned it. It doesn't take long for the others to see that they were the ones who were NOT good listeners. I've been watching whole brain teaching and there are a few things that I am going to try this year myself. The magic mirror is one of them. Explain to the students that when you do this with your hands (start moving your hands in patterns), they are to copy you, because when your hands are moving, they won't get you in trouble.
The teacher says out loud, "Magic Mirror" and begins a quick movement then stops. Praise the students who listen and encourage the others that hopefully next time, they will have magic hands. The one K teacher that I worked with in the past had one extremely wild child and several times no matter what time of day it was said, "Free Centers! (or RECESS time) If I call your name, you are able to choose anything you'd like. If I don't call your name, that means you get to go back to your seat (or stay there if they're already there) and do nothing but sit there. No writing, no coloring, no talking, no nothing. This is only for like 10 min., but boy was this little guy ever sorry he didn't listen. If the students say, "It's not centers time." Let them know that YOU can call for centers at any time, esp. for those who love being good citizens and good listeners, you just never know when the magic fairy appears!
My kids were terrible at lining up for lunch or specials. So I had to sit them back down on numerous occasions and say, if YOU are late for lunch it's not MY fault, whose fault is it? They would all respond, "OURS." Then we began singing this song lining up, "Shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy try it, shimmy, shimmy cocoa pop, time to be quiet. Shhhh! (finger goes to lip). They cannot leave until everyone has their finger on their lip or are quiet.
Also, I read another thing a teacher does during line walking. The line leader chooses a name stick (put student names on popsicle sticks) at random and once you've arrived at your destination, if the mystery person was quiet the whole way there, he/she will be a partner to the line leader or some other incentive of your choice. You never know who will be chosen, so they all should be quiet just in case their name is called.
Keep us posted on how your week goes. I start my first day on Monday. Yikes!
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:34 AM
 
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Even though I teach first grade now, I was in kindergarten for many years. Most of my kids had no prior school experience and little direction at home. Here's my advice. Change the way you are looking at your class. You have a vision of what you want your class to look like, so you end up focusing on what your kids can't do. We all do that! Instead, think of your k-kids as blank slates who know nothing about rules, procedures, and classroom manners. Introduce only one or two teachable points (just as you would with teaching the letter or number of the week) and stick with it until they get it. Break down each procedure into parts and work on the most important first. Walking in line - I would start with teaching everyone to STAY IN LINE from classroom to destination. I would make it a fun challenge and celebrate when we do it without problems for a week. Then the next challenge would be "walking in line with whisper voices only". Then another celebration. It may take til Thanksgiving to get the kids where you want them to be, but it is worth it.

I would do the same with sitting on the rug for lessons/stories. Start with just staying on the rug. Then move on to staying in your spot, then hands/feet to yourself, eyes on the book being read, looking at/listening to the speaker (teacher or classmate), raising your hand to speak, etc. I included lots of "turn and talk" to your partner moments so everyone got a chance to speak. Always verbally celebrate when the class has learned a new skill!

This is the most important! Find 2 or 3 kids who are doing the right thing and mention it. "Jose and Emily are sitting so quietly! Wonderful!" Next thing you know, everybody's doing it! Whenever you see a "problem child" doing the right thing, make sure you point it out. You will really have to reach for some kids, but it helps them see that they can do the right thing... "Johnny , I love how you put that book away so quietly!"

Remember, it doesn't happen all at once in kindergarten (or first grade). Take it one step at a time and you'll see results. Also, K-1 kids LOVE TO TALK! Give them many opportunities to do so. I teach my Gr.1 kids (same for K) to be silent when traveling in the hallway and when I'm reading a story/teaching a mini-lesson. As soon as the mini-lesson is over, everyone gets a chance to talk in a partner, small group or whole class follow-up activity. This is extremely important for any ELL kids you may have. Good luck!
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Great Thread
Old 08-29-2015, 12:11 PM
 
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GreenBunny had some wonderful suggestions!

One that I would add is using a verbal signal that requires a verbal response from the students. I had a noisy class last year and used an idea from this forum. Teacher "Macaroni and cheese" Kid's verbal response "Everybody freeze". Half of my kids didn't even know what macaroni and cheese is but they liked the silliness of the rhyming words. It's much quicker than "Raise your hand if you can hear my voice", "Clap two times if you can hear my voice" etc.

The mantra I use before we ever walk out our door is "Eyes. Mouth. Hands. Feet." We have another little poem we use now but this is the slow and calm phrase I will use all year.

Right now, you are "herding cats". It will get better. I always go around and say quietly "It's almost time to clean-up" or "We have one more minute of ___" so they are already easing into making a transition.

I second the person who said to have the mindset that you need to teach them every procedure, every routine you want them to know. After you have modeled in detail what you want to see, they love telling you what you did wrong when you ham it up with the magnified example of what not to do. They love it even more when you role play the "Is this right?" with another adult.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:20 PM
 
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I won't repeat all of the good advice given. Just want to say take heart, it will get better! The beginning is oh so hard, for new teachers and veterans. They are babies and they act like it! The piece of advice I agree with most is to find the positive and make a huge deal about it. They want your attention and praise and if that's how they will get it then they'll start to step up!


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Old 09-03-2015, 05:04 PM
 
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Your class is totally normal! One of my professors said "Don't think of your K students as 5 years old, think of them as 60 months old." They have not been on this planet for very long! They are learning EVERYTHING! This means upping your tolerance QUITE a bit at the beginning. Embrace the movement and the talking and the noise. It's gonna happen! That doesn't mean you're a bad teacher! That also doesn't mean, of course, that you won't teach expected behaviors, and how to do routines, but they are not 7, or 9, or 12. They are little people! Think about incorporating 15 min of circle time in your afternoon to teach different social skills- life interrupting, managing emotions, solving problems, etc. Make it fun by role playing and incorporating fun read alouds. Involve the parents by sending home notes like "Today we practiced taking turns while talking. Today at dinner, you can practice this too!" etc etc.

Teach, reteach, encourage, reteach, celebrate, and reteach again. Most of all, just try to reach kids individually and establish relationships. One by one, you might start to see a change in how they listen to you.

Kindergarten teachers are a special breed! The first 3 months are SO HARD. Just try to keep your heart open and let them be little. You'll make it!!
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Old 09-18-2015, 03:21 PM
 
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I have taught kindergarten many years and this year I also have a challenging group. I promise it will get better. I would suggest that you go to the whole brain teaching website and look at the techniques there. We use class yes and hands and eyes with great success. There are videos online showing it in action and it is very successful. One of the problematic things about school is that we often don't give the kids a chance to talk. It helps to teach them to turn and talk about a subject interesting to them and then turning attention back to you is key. Also, teachers generally talk to much. 5 - 10 mini lessons then an activity adding time each day builds stamina. Making a game of everything helps. Whole Brain Teaching was developed by Chris Biffle and works with K - college learners. This website and resources are completely free and there are webinars available and trainings if you live in a nearby area. It can be draining to keep up with it at the beginning of the year but once everyone is trained, things mellow out. A helpful hint I have for transitions is to put on favorite dance music when you want them to finish up and come to the carpet. Without having to call them over, I put on the freeze dance and everyone hustles over. We love Mr. Al, Dr. Jean and Jack Hartmann music and use the songs each day. Try to find a movement or song for each thing you teach as a gesture helps it stick in the brain and we all remember things better with music.
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