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kallard kallard is offline
 
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Ideas for a "Specials" and classroom management
Old 09-10-2017, 06:33 AM
 
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*Edit, see my next reply below for more information.

I am an elementary science specialist. I teach science enrichment to all of the classes TK-5 at my school for approximately 1 hour a week. This year, 4th and 5th will be getting 1hr and 15m. On some days the classes are back-to-back with little to no transition between classes. What they do in my classroom helps with science knowledge and engagement, as well as engineering, but it is not the grade level/report card science that the classroom teacher is still responsible for.

Due to the nature of the experiments and hands on activities I do, it is easy for the students to get loud and excited. Also, I know I have a tendency to be a little loose with the students, so this is something I need to work on. However, I have noticed an increase in difficult behaviors at our school, and by the time they reach upper grades, it has become considerably more difficult as a specials teacher than it was when I first started. The kids that were wonderful to work with as third graders, are now very difficult - numbers, excitement, etc.

Since my classroom is very hands-on, it can get quite noisy. I am in a bungalow that has tile floors and echos - my previous classroom was in a larger bungalow with carpet, and I noticed a big difference when I moved to the new classroom.

Noise during the experiment doesn't bother me, unless the kids are not on task or taking it seriously. However, I do have trouble getting the students to stop, look, and listen for directions more than I used to, and many classes continue to chat (yes, I do have specific signals). Occasionally I have a student who is attention seeking.

I know that one struggle is that I am not their regular classroom teacher, and they are only with me for an hour. The classes that do somewhat better are the ones that have a teacher that hangs a reward or consequence based on my report I give back to the teacher. Only a few teachers give me permission to send the kid back to their room - it is protected time, and I am not really supposed to send them back to their teacher. We do have reflection sheets in our new school behavior system.

So, my question would be for other successful "specials" teachers - what classroom management techniques have you used? Or if you are a regular teacher and know the system of a successful specials teacher at your school, I would like to hear suggestions.

Thanks.



Last edited by kallard; 09-10-2017 at 07:56 AM..
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You're still the teacher
Old 09-10-2017, 07:14 AM
 
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Specialized teacher or not, you are for that block the student's teacher.

Go back and reteach your expectations. Make sure that consequences are clear to the students. Something like First time, warning. Second time, parent contact and observation only lab participation. Third time, parent contact with lost of all lab participation & book work for the next two labs.

Sounds like you also need some kind of attention getter. "If you hear me clap twice, if you hear me say hey-oh, if you hear me put your finger over your mouth, etc" is pretty effective.
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Old 09-10-2017, 07:50 AM
 
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I do have those signals. These are all signals they know - only kindergarten and new students to our school do not know them. I go over them the first few weeks of school, even though they know them. In the past, I have also stopped an activity or experiment if the class is not following directions or being too loud. I have also copied paper pencil tasks to give in place of the lab as a consequence.

My question was not so much about making expectations clear, etc. So, I will rephrase what I am asking. I am interested to know any systems that specials teachers use as a visual cue and what positive or negative consequences they have associated with it. As a specials teacher, I find it harder to have this for every single class. As a regular classroom teacher, it was far easier to do this type of thing. Like a regular teacher might have a marbles in a jar thing.

So, for some examples of things I have used or know other teachers have used: giving x amount of points each time they come, and then given a special reward when they reach a certain goal number of points. Tally marks where they have to have more points than the teacher (points for them when they are making positive choices, points for me when they are not) - but what happens if the students win, what happens if the teacher wins? Providing a report slip with a emoticon face circled - (face meaning happy, neutral, sad, etc). Raffle tickets and monthly raffles (don't like this one). Table points - but what do they earn if they win?

I have tried different ones throughout the years, but I do need something easy that I don't need to break the bank to reward or have trouble keeping track of the different classes over several weeks.

Or should I even have a cumulative reward as a lab teacher? It is my thinking that coming is a privilege, and that if they are not behaving, there should be a consequence of sitting out the next week.

However, my principal has NOT been supportive of having students miss class. This has been a school-wide problem from my administrator - something all of us have been struggling with. We have tried to put into a place a school-wide discipline plan, which took the entire year to develop and she resisted because she didn't want to deal with it. Any kid that has an IEP, she also does not handle and dumps them on the resource teacher while she is working with groups. Last year we had a student in first grade who threw tables and chairs, etc., and she just looked at me and said "what do we do?" as if I was a special education expert. She did not follow his behavior support plan which said he needed to have a paraprofessional with him, and he never did or it was inconsistent. So this is part of what I am dealing with and trying to figure out a way to work within this difficult situation.
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Taught Art....
Old 09-10-2017, 08:42 AM
 
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I taught in a school where specials were NEVER allowed to send a kid back, or "report" a kid unless it was a deal between the teacher and parent.

I was NOT allowed to send kids to the office unless a punch was throwing, a desk tossed or something huge like that.

Specials are like doing stand up. The moment you look weak/wishy washy the kids will eat you alive. It doesn't matter what incentive you have on the hook.

I raised my hand up in the air for the charmers to pay attention to me. They would also be quiet and raise their hand. That was the only thing I did.

One thing that helped is I never sat down. I was always walking the room, and made sure my back was never to them. My room had table groups, and the classes that weren't dumpster fires had free choice seating.

95% of my problems were kid specific. It was a group of kids or 1 kid with some big time issues. I can teach you about art with the cool things I've planned, or we can do it with golf pencils and news print. The charmer's behavior dictates the choice.

If I had *that class*, my incentive may be doing something fun for the next time together. Paper airplanes and a flight contest for bragging rights was a big deal.

The things that helped me

*Know what you are doing cold.

*Walk the room. A good 90% of my issues could get snuffed out before it hits Death Con 10 by me just moving around.

*Keep a sleathy side eye on your frequent flyers.

*Quiet has always worked better for me than clapping, ringing a bell etc. I'd model what expected, and that was it.

*Sense of humor.

I personally hated sticker charts and all that crap UNLESS a kid really needs it. Most of my kids had more things than I will ever have. Find out what their hook is. For my classes it was making origami with primo origami paper or learning fold a new paper airplane model.

I have a feeling your classes are treating this like a camp activity, instead of you being a teacher and them having to get something out of it. When I took my last job, it was hard because EVERY class treat art like it was a family fun fair craft table.

I probably didn't give you what you asked, but the above worked for me.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:17 AM
 
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That actually hit the nail on the head. I think I need to toss all of the ridiculous incentives that I have tried. They are pointless and do very little. However, one activity tied into what I do might be something - like making slime or something.

Yes, this is like the "camp" class in lots of ways because they get to build, and try stuff, experiment, and create - something they are not getting otherwise. There is no grade associated with the class. If there were one, I would have to grade over 430 students, which is more than a middle/high school teacher, and I only see them one hour a week.

They have science in their regular classroom, but I do not have time to join my activities with in-depth, paper pencil/writing tasks often like I would if I were in the regular classroom. They have science notebooks, and they use them, but I do not have time to actually monitor and evaluate.

A few years ago, when a child got in trouble in my room for being disruptive, the classroom teacher spoke to the parent. The parent said "oh, it was only Science Lab." So obviously, it the behavior in my room didn't matter to that parent, and I am sure it is the same for some other parents as well. [Not to imply that I don't talk to parents, just, in this instance, the classroom teacher had a system and her class is one of the better behaved ones when they come to my room because they know there will be consequences.]

I give a Science Lab Behavior Report to the classroom teacher. I am thinking that each class will start with a word (say, SMART or something that has 5 letters - or KOALA, that's our mascot), and each time they don't follow directions, I will erase a letter.

See below to see if there is any suggestion for what should be changed. This is for the whole class, not individuals.

Each letter = a consequence

KOALA = No consequence
OALA = verbal warning
ALA = 5 minute time out from activity
LA = 10 minute time out from activity (so, 15 minutes total)
A = Stop activity, clean up and classroom-wide incident report written by individual

Or

KOALA = No consequence
OALA = verbal warning
ALA = 10 minute time out from activity
LA = Stop activity, clean up and classroom-wide incident report written by individual
A = Paper pencil task for following week


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Old 09-10-2017, 07:41 PM
 
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I think for specials teachers, it's got to be something super simple. You don't have enough time with them for anything elaborate and you have too many kids to be handing out candy and treats. Our art teacher has a theme in her room. It's a video game, I don't even know what it is, but it's something with bananas and at the end of art, the class either gets a red, yellow, or green banana. She makes a BIG deal out of it, and gets super excited about it, so they buy into it. There's no other reward or anything. Just bragging rights. They monitor each other and they're like, "Stop it, you're gonna make us get a red banana!"

In my class, one of the things that makes my kids try really hard at transitions is using a timer. I time how many seconds it takes to do anything. Pass in papers, clear desks, line up, etc. They love it. They try to beat the other class's most recent time, and they try to beat their own time. I just write it on a corner of the whiteboard. If they aren't silent when they transition, I stop the timer and they don't get a score. If they beat it though, you do have to teach them how to celebrate appropriately and not too loud... like silent applause or raise the roof or whatever. Otherwise, they have a silent fast transition, but then a big, loud, cheer and chaos. Lol

In the case of one disruptive kid, I'd just put him out of the activity and he can sit in a chair in the back of the room. Don't send to the office - obviously you'll get no support. Don't send back to homeroom teacher - that's her planning time. Don't put in the hall - you can't keep an eye on him, and everyone who walks by will think you can't manage your class. Let him stay in the room and see how cool your activities are that he can't participate in. Hopefully next week he'll remember.
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I am also a specials teacher.
Old 09-11-2017, 04:30 PM
 
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I teach elementary Spanish. I see the kids twice a week for 30 minutes and will be with them from 1st to 5th grade. Before teaching Spanish, I was a classroom teacher for many years.

I am not a huge fan of whole class rewards or punishments. I don't think that the kids should be responsible for monitoring and influencing the behavior of their peers (although it is nice when it works).

I try to keep classes to a very fast pace and with a predictable format. They know where to go when entering the room, they have assigned seats at tables, I assign partners (with few exception). I ring a bell to get their attention (nice) or clap a pattern if that does not work.

Students know that if I have to speak to them more than once, they will not be invited to play games to practice vocabulary. They will have the joy of watching their friends have fun. That does not have to happen too often.

Being a special area teacher is tough. We don't have the leverage that a classroom teacher has. However, we can show the passion we have for our subject area.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:52 PM
 
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Quote:
...My question was not so much about making expectations clear, etc. So, I will rephrase what I am asking. I am interested to know any systems that specials teachers use as a visual cue and what positive or negative consequences they have associated with it. As a specials teacher, I find it harder to have this for every single class. As a regular classroom teacher, it was far easier to do this type of thing. Like a regular teacher might have a marbles in a jar thing. ...
Some teachers tie in their management system with specials teachers. That is, they share the same incentives for homeroom and specials. Example is Responsibility Training with PAT. Students can add extra time to their homeroom PAT bank by cooperating and increasing time on task in their specials class. The specials teacher is a timer. There is no clerical work or tangibles to manage. A note with + minutes (or - minutes) is sent with students back to homeroom. The home teacher adds the minutes to the classes' PAT and is in charge of directing a PAT activity when appropriate, often depending on the maturity level of students. Since students are familiar with PAT the specials teacher need only hold up a stopwatch.

Something else. Is there any law or government mandate that states students must always communicate-collaborate through the verbal modality? If students are not allowed to share their activity verbally will they end up with irreversible neurological damage? Consider: Mute Session

A Mute Session is a length of time, usually 20 min+- or an activity, in which students may communicate but only in writing. The teacher can't talk either. Students are given "mute paper" (scratch paper - a special color helps) to communicate (write) with. The teacher carries a clipboard or notepad. Whole-class directions or instruction are written or drawn on the board or projection device. An index card is folded like a tent with ? (I have a question) on one side and DONE (I'm finished) on the other and given to each student (or they can make them). They don't raise their hand for help or to ask a question. They turn their card up so ? is showing. This signals the teacher, who is moving and working the crowd, to walk over to the student's desk (table or?) and, without saying a word, writes on her/his pad, "What can I help you with?" or similar. If the student speaks - likely in the beginning when training the class and due to years of blah-blah-blah - the teacher doesn't say a word and writes, "I can't hear you", meaning the only thing I hear is writing. The student must write the question or statement and show it to the teacher. Of course, one will have to teach with modeling and guided practice what a Mute Session is and emphasize it is not a punishment, rather a different way to communicate. When I did this (many times) students thought it was fun. Some would petition to have Mute Session more often. A spin-off once Mute Session is up and running is to demand correct sentences - mechanics, spelling etc. - in order to be "heard". Also, when students are collaborating in groups they have to write everything and show their partner(s). This cuts the noise level to 0. To get their attention I walked to the board, wrote "Alto" and pointed.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:56 AM
 
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As a former special education teacher, I've organized many special events in my room that was attended by multiple groups and entire classes: cooking (fruit fondue, cookies, milkshakes), Reptile Day with over 30 animals including a 60 tortoise, Guinea Pig Day with over 5 different kinds, Bug Day, etc. Kids tend to anticipate these events with excitement and an expectation that they won't have to do any work - in other words, it's PlayTime! It's up to you to set the tone right off the bat. Do you have all students line up quietly outside while they wait for you to let them into your room? Do you give them a simple directive while they are still in line? (e.g. Come in and sit down quietly.) Do you send the entire class back outside to line up again when students start talking? (Do this a few times and Voila!) You say you want Simple? Just think Old School. Forget about incentives and trendy gimmicks for getting kids to cooperate. Just apply simple training techniques even though they may go against what you've been taught. Want their attention? Just turn off the lights? Still too noisy in the dark? Send them outside again. All training requires consistent repetition - this applies to both animals and people.

By the way, in the interest of time, I also did away with dispensing praise for every correct response. Instead, every child was responsible for showing a quiet thumbs up or thumbs down whenever I called on a student to respond to a question that I asked. This helps keep everyone on their toes and promotes full class participation.

Consider projecting the directions on a screen and simply call on students to read them to the class (one step per student). Do this as soon as students are seated so that no time is wasted. Minimize downtime to discourage kids from fooling around.

The classroom teacher should always be present with her students in the science room and should be informed of what you expect him/her to do: assist students as needed, assist you as needed, remove disruptive non-participants as needed (take them to the office or just babysit outside your room).

Change your thinking about how to motivate the students. They don't need any additional motivation to do well in your class - the activity itself in your "special" class is enough to motivate everyone.

Let me know how it works out!
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I did raffle tickets
Old 10-25-2017, 12:51 PM
 
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When I was in the library, each class had a small bucket, and I would give tickets (just cut up scrap paper, doesn't need to be fancy) to kids doing the right thing. At the end of the lesson, they'd write their name on the tickets they had and put them in the class bucket. Every couple of weeks I'd draw a couple of names out of the bucket, and they would win a prize. My prizes were cheap - small chocolates, an ice block from the canteen, things like that. This was for grades 3-6 and it worked very well for me. All I had to do was grab a handful of tickets and start looking around and there would be instant silence and a strong work ethic happening.


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