Rowdy Middle School Kids & how to handle them - ProTeacher Community


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Rowdy Middle School Kids & how to handle them
Old 11-08-2006, 09:09 PM
 
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Lately, I've been subbing at a lot of middle schools & I have a few questions for the subs or guest teachers (I like this term better). But, before I begin, I must say that most of my experiences at middle schools have been positive. I have actually had those rough days where I do question myself and what I did when there are students who get out of control & it is from those certain days that I wish to seek improvement & recommendations.



Are most middle school classes rowdy by nature with their regular teachers or do they just feel it is "party time" when a sub is in the class?

If the everyday teacher is considered a pushover by the class, is the sub just another one of their victims, despite the sub's bravery & efforts?

If a student wants to mouth off, where do you draw the line & what action have you taken?

How do you handle a student who decides they want to ask irrelevant questions that attempt to throw you off a lesson plan?

What do you do when there is a student who refuses or hesitates to do their work because they are distracted by socializing or by making poor attempts to disrupt the class with their bad humor?

Do you stay on those students like a personal babysitter or should you just let them sink & face their own academic destiny into "Hades"?

How common is it for a sub to have students talk over them & constantly interrupt while they have to explain a lesson or go over directions for an assignment? And what has anyone done to improve this situation at that very moment?


With rowdy students, have any of you been able to contain them with any positive techniques (i.e. - no threats of sending them to the principal, staying after school etc...) ?


Also, are there any teachers here from the Sweetwater Union District in Chula Vista, National City, & San Diego, Ca.?


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middle school my fave
Old 11-09-2006, 07:46 AM
 
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that is correct: "they just feel it is "party time" when a sub is in the class". They will even say so.

"If the everyday teacher is considered a pushover by the class, is the sub just another one of their victims, despite the sub's bravery & efforts" Many times I have been told by the paras, "They aren't this quiet when Mrs. Jones is here."

"If a student wants to mouth off, where do you draw the line & what action have you taken?" I draw the line very quickly and the line isn't very long. Middle school is very different from high school and fifth grade. I come down hard on them to begin with, and then later show that I can be a nice man and I like them and enjoy some of their more benign antics. With fifth grade I am a nice man from the beginning. With high school I am more babysitter that anything else. I am just there and as long no riot breaks out everyone will be happy.

"How do you handle a student who decides they want to ask irrelevant questions that attempt to throw you off a lesson plan?" A general warning to the class to stay focused and then the first smartarse is out. Period. Just to the hall. Then go visit with him first chance. As the years go by this student will become one of your best friends in the school.

"What do you do when there is a student who refuses or hesitates to do their work because they are distracted by socializing or by making poor attempts to disrupt the class with their bad humor?" Go over and open his book to the correct page for him. Help him with the first question. Works wonders.

Do you stay on those students like a personal babysitter or should you just let them sink & face their own academic destiny into "Hades"?"

If it continues I send them out. Just to the hall to have a personal consulation. that usually does it. If not to the office. It might be tough at first, but the next time you see them it will be much easier. They will see you and think, "Oh this is that guy who doesn't take any crap"? (sorry, but a direct quote)
I try to use humor, but with this age group it is sometimes like they don't want you to be funny, almost a "How dare he" attitude. You must show this age group that you are tough, but fair, and that you do like them.
This is my favorite age group. I have had some "wrecks" and didn't exactly look forward to returning to a certain group, but they just sat there and did their work and were perfect (ok, almost) angels. After they get to know you all it will take is for you to look at them across the room.
My methods aren't perfect, don't always work as well as I would like, but I have survived in about a half dozen middle schools and am asked back. Only missed one day this year.
Some of these schools have some tough customers. Kids that are literally born into a bad life. Hardcore from the start. You can't change them. I am just like the rest of you, I am watching that clock, too. Easy does it, go slow, and try not to let a situation escalate before you know what happened.

And from one of our other threads, "Never, ever touch one of these kids".
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Old 11-09-2006, 06:00 PM
 
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I'm speaking as a former sub and a 11 year vetran middle school teacher.

Quote:
Are most middle school classes rowdy by nature with their regular teachers or do they just feel it is "party time" when a sub is in the class?
My classes aren't rowdy. Some are more energetic than others, and some have more "personalities" in them than others. I tell my kiddos to be BETTER behaved for the subs because they don't know them like I do, and first impressions are everything.

Quote:
If the everyday teacher is considered a pushover by the class, is the sub just another one of their victims, despite the sub's bravery & efforts?
Sometimes, but not always. Most of the time they act pretty much the same, but there are always a few who don't. I was out the past two days, and my sub's notes contain the same usual suspects that I'd have expected. Every now and then I have a group that misbehaves for the sub because the sub didn't do something to suit them. For instance, my third period class moved to new seats last week. I did not manage to get their new seating chart printed and in the folder. The old one was there. They argued up and down with the sub that they'd moved seats and were very rude. I'd told them that I didn't have time to make a new chart every time one person moved, so they were to use whatever one I left . . . PERIOD. It's only one hour from their lives, and they can deal with it. I left them a "reminder" note on the board today after I read the report from yesterday. They were stinkers after they didn't get their way with the seat issue.

Quote:
If a student wants to mouth off, where do you draw the line & what action have you taken?

How do you handle a student who decides they want to ask irrelevant questions that attempt to throw you off a lesson plan?

What do you do when there is a student who refuses or hesitates to do their work because they are distracted by socializing or by making poor attempts to disrupt the class with their bad humor?

Do you stay on those students like a personal babysitter or should you just let them sink & face their own academic destiny into "Hades"?

How common is it for a sub to have students talk over them & constantly interrupt while they have to explain a lesson or go over directions for an assignment? And what has anyone done to improve this situation at that very moment?
Those are the trickiest questions. As a "regular" in the classroom, I know WHY the kids are mouthing off, so I know that "Johnny" needs to be ignored or he gets worse, "Susie" responds to a quiet individual talk, and "Tom" needs to step into the hall to compose himself. Yesterday one of my students refused to do anything and acted a complete moron, as did another of his buddies. I left an office referral for Kid 1 today and told the sub to send him out if he so much as looked at her funny. Kid 1 has a ZERO percent and a stinky attitude. Kid 2, although engaged in similar behaviors yesterday, isn't normally like that and was probably going with the flow of Kid 1 because they were sitting near each other . . . and they don't in the new seating chart that wasn't left for the sub.

I don't talk over kids. I talk UNDER them or stop and stare at the ones talking. I did that both as a sub and a teacher. If they cannot hush, I've moved them to an isolated area.

Quote:
With rowdy students, have any of you been able to contain them with any positive techniques (i.e. - no threats of sending them to the principal, staying after school etc...) ?
Several years ago one of my rowdy girls was always H*ll on Wheels for substitutes, yet was always good for me. She got really out of sorts when someone else was telling her how things worked in the classroom . . . a classroom she'd been in longer than the sub. I finally started leaving subs notes to ask her to to explain X or Y or to assist with Z. She loved it and was really good. Maybe that would work? Please DON'T reward them with "free time" or tell them that their regular teacher will give them a reward when they get back!
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Old 11-09-2006, 07:41 PM
 
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Hello,

I've found that the key is to keep the middle school student busy, from the moment that they step into the room to the time they leave I have something for them to do.

I will place the agenda on the board, or a list of assignments. I will also greet them at the door with a test or worksheet if the lesson plan calls for it. I also don't waste time calling roll. I use the seating chart.

With middle school students idle time is mischief time.

Thanks
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Old 11-10-2006, 07:28 PM
 
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I have had some of my best days subbing in middle schools. I have also had some of my worst days subbing in middle schools.

A middle school has to be well-run from the top. I've been in some schools like this, and I love them. When I'm forced to send a student to the office, I'm supported 100%. I've also been in some that have weak administrators, and they are torture. One such middle school is on my exclusion list.

The lesson plans that the teacher leaves can make or break a sub. I've had classes with rough students, but the plans were so much to their liking that I had no problems. I've also had decent classes with terrible plans, and I had problems. Once I had a sixth grade social studies class for an extended period (about 80 minutes). For the first half of the period, we did a teacher-directed activity with everyone in his/her seat. They were great. The second half of the period was spent doing group projects. Disaster. They were like a completely different class!

Middle school teachers often love to leave videos. A great video is a guarantee that you won't have any trouble. A terrible video is a guarantee that you'll have a rough time. Here's my favorite middle school video story: I was subbing for an art teacher, and she left some of the most deadly videos I have ever seen in my life. The kids were supposed to take notes and turn them in. In one of the videos, a man demonstrated how to make pottery. He took a long piece of wet clay, stretched it out into a long strip, and repeatedly rubbed it with his thumbs for some reason. You can probably guess what was going through these seventh grade brains! After this "educational" scene, there was no longer much class control.

Some regular middle school teachers are tough with the discipline. They refuse to allow their students to trash the room (I've discovered that students begin to acquire this habbit somewhere between fifth and seventh grades). It is easier to sub in these rooms than in rooms with more lax discipline where the students are allowed to leave their trash everywhere.

In my favorite middle school, some of the teachers are very strict. Their rooms are never trashed, and the students know not to push things with the sub. There are other teachers who don't have the same level of control, and their classes are harder.

One of these more lax teachers is a very sweet woman, but I've seen and heard her classes. She lets her students get away with murder. I once walked into her room after school to chat for a few minutes, and her floor was covered with trash. I made an innocent comment about this, and she gave me a smile; she started picking some of it up and said that they did this every day. I like this woman, but I honestly think she lets her students walk all over her.


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Old 11-13-2006, 12:32 PM
 
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I hope I can answer a few of your questions from my love of middle schoolers.

1. Are most middle school classes rowdy by nature with their regular teachers or do they just feel it is "party time" when a sub is in the class?
This age group tends to be rowdy, but yes they also try to pull the wool over the sub's eyes. They enjoy getting away with everything, so be tough!

2. If the everyday teacher is considered a pushover by the class, is the sub just another one of their victims, despite the sub's bravery & efforts?
I go into each classroom with my own way of dealing with students. I tell the kids that if they get loud, I will keep them one minute after class for each time I have to tell them to quiet down or calm down. They don't like this idea because it causes them to be late to their next class, which puts them in trouble with a teacher of record.

3. If a student wants to mouth off, where do you draw the line & what action have you taken?
I think that if she/he is joking, you smile and say "this is not the time for jokes, let's get back to work". If you know the kid is being defensive or offensive and just flat out determined to have the last word, you write his/ her name on an office referral and say to the kid on a one to one basis "One more comment out of you and I fill this out and send you out of here. The choice is yours, work quietly or speak your mind. One will allow you to be praised for good choices the other will get you in trouble with me, the principal, and your regular teacher. Think about it." Then walk away.

4. How do you handle a student who decides they want to ask irrelevant questions that attempt to throw you off a lesson plan?
I would either answer quickly and refocus the discusion, or simply say "that's a question we can talk about later", while giving them the "look".

5. What do you do when there is a student who refuses or hesitates to do their work because they are distracted by socializing or by making poor attempts to disrupt the class with their bad humor?
This is an easy one! It sounds like you have a student that likes to be center of attention. Move him to the back of the room that way the other kids are no longer looking at him. If that does not work, make him turn his chair toward the wall. That way everyone is looking at his back. The final choice is place him right next to you. if You are the only one he has access to speak to, he will not like this and either behave better or worse. If he gets worse, write him up and get him out of your classroom!

6. Do you stay on those students like a personal babysitter or should you just let them sink & face their own academic destiny into "Hades"?
Personal responsibility is a big deal at middle school level! We are trying to teach them to stop blaming everyone else and consider that they are the ones choosing to fail or succeed. If you have to ask them more than one time, note it for the Teacher of Record and then stay on them till they get it done. Never let any kid sit without working!

7. How common is it for a sub to have students talk over them & constantly interrupt while they have to explain a lesson or go over directions for an assignment? And what has anyone done to improve this situation at that very moment?
I will not speak while others are talking. Usually, I have one very loud mouthed student who will read my teaching theory from the board. "My name is Ms. M. and I will not speak while you are speaking. If you are interested in success today, you will choose to be quiet and pay attention. If you are not interested in success, you must be interested in staying after class with me." Then every time I stop talking in mid-sentence, someone yells shut up or guys she is going to make us stay after the bell. Usually it takes one or two times of stopping in mid-sentence before they realized I am serious. Then I go back to my minutes after class technique.


8. With rowdy students, have any of you been able to contain them with any positive techniques (i.e. - no threats of sending them to the principal, staying after school etc...) ?
I tried giving them 5minutes of talk time if they were good. That idea was not in compliance with district policy of bell to bell teaching. Try a no homework policy for good students who do their work.
Try passing out raffle tickets as you walk around the room, while kids are working. Have a drawing for something fun in the last minute of class
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subbing middle school
Old 11-14-2006, 07:01 AM
 
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I am now a teacher, but subbed my way through college. I still love coming to this board to offer help from both sides of the fence.

I started out doing elem. only. I loved the kids. They were all wonderful. When I finally decided to do middle school, I was a little scared. I did have wonderful students, which made it easier for me to return.

They are capable of doing things on their own, which is nice. I did have a few classes that made me miserable, but here is what I learned.

1. Children at the middle school age are just becoming socialable to the point where they may be more talkative than younger kids. As with most ages, to a student, a sub means play time. No teacher, no work, so they think. They feel you are a sub, so you are clueless.

2.If you ask the majority of the class, they are goingto tell you that their teacher doesn't pay much attention to their behavior. I could almost bet their exact words will be "She lets us do what we want", "She doesn't care."

3. I personally don't put up with any mouthing off. I send them to the office right away. The worst thing to do, is argue back.

4. I ignore irrelavent questions, unless I feel the student is being real serious and doesn't realize the question has nothing to do with what is being discussed.

To sum it up, there is a principal for a reason..... send them out immediatly.

Don't ever talk over them, or yell..... it doesn't matter. Whispering is a good quitner.

Hope this helps.
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middle school
Old 11-15-2006, 01:32 PM
 
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I subbed for six years before I became a classroom teacher. Many days were in middle school, because this is the place where they have problems getting subs. Elementary subs want only elementary, and high school teachers would rather not go there.

In answer to your questions:


1. Yes, some kids do consider it to be a time to be rowdy, although they are often rowdy for their regular teacher.

2. The kids often don't have any more respect for their regular classroom teacher than they do you.

One very important thing to remember: Nip it in the bud. Don't let problems get out of hand. Once one starts, they all follow.

3. If a kid mouths off, call a security official and have him/her escorted out. If that option isn't available, call the office immediately.

4. Quickly make a very short comment, then return to your lesson. If you don't address it at all, he/she may persist and drive you crazy.

5. You could ask him to move to another location. If he is distracted by what's around him, that will probably help a great deal. If you can, find a table at the back of the room where he is isolated. If he acts up after that, have him escorted out of the room by security, or send him to a prearranged classroom to get him out.

6. I didn't let them rule. Period. I showed them I was the adult in charge.

7. If you have the option of giving a detention, then do that. At the middle school where I worked, I did just that. If the kid won't be quiet, send him to a prearranged room or move him.

8. Sometimes it's a good idea to pull Johnny aside and have a little pep talk with him (away from his peers, of course). If you try to criticize him in front of his peers, he is likely to try grandstanding. I had success with this technique. If it doesn't work, send him out. You can give him an ultimatum: shape up or ship out. If he/she gets really rowdy, then it's time to use him as a model for the others and either kick him out of have him escorted out by security.

One very important rule to remember: Nip it in the bud. Don't let behaviors escalate. Once one does it, they all want to do it, then it's chaos.
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Middle Schoolers
Old 11-17-2006, 01:06 PM
 
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I prefer the younger ages but when I needed subbing jobs, I did work with middle schoolers.

They do think that since you are a sub it's party time even though I worked for an affluent school district.

I remember subbing for 5th grade and was scared that they would be out of control. When they walked in, I made sure I wasn't smiling and gave them my stern lecture about behavior.
That was the best class ever. Those kids wanted be back so badly as a sub that the next time they had a sub, they told me they were poorly behaved so that their teacher would ask me to come back. And when I did, those kids were so thrilled to see me.
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