I've been employed in various capacities in elementary schools, and I'm currently subbing (hard to find a teaching job, you know). I'm usually pretty confident in my subbing skills, especially with the younger grades, but tomorrow I'll be in fifth grade which I usually try to avoid. It's not a particularly easy class either. What are your best management strategies for this age? I probably should've posted this earlier in the day, but I would really appreciate hearing some of your ideas.
that fifth graders don't like losing privileges. One big thing is recess, and I have been known to start tallying recess minutes if they don't quiet down when I need to get their attention or if they have a loud transition during class.
They also like being rewarded, so if they are doing well, they may get some "free" time later in the afternoon if they have done well, quieted down, etc.
The important thing is to be firm and not to let them get away with things. I will call students on inappropriate behavior immediately and make sure the consequences are carried out. When the students know you mean business and won't put up with things, they tend to listen better. Good luck to you tomorrow!
I also agree that they do not like losing privileges. They do not do very well with warnings so you need a visual system - I write something on the board (you can do RECESS if you're allowed to take away recess, or 1-5) and tell them I will be moving them up the scale when they get too loud, and what happens if they get to 5 or S or however you want to do it.
Also important in 5th grade (at least in the school I go to most often) is to get the ringleader either on your side or sent to the office with a referral right away. And be confident with how the referrals work (the office can explain them to you if need be). The class will act according to how the ringleader acts (you'll be able to pick them out), so you can either try to work with them to get them to work with you for the day, or if they are out of control send them out right away. This will get the rest of them in line.
They also really like positive reinforcement - in one class I teach the classes rotate through for part of the day, so I have a few other homerooms for a short period of time. For these classes I tell them I will be writing down the names of students that are working well to leave for the teacher - now when I go into that class they specifically ask me if I will be making that list
Biggest thing is to jump on the bad behavior right away. They start to get kind of sassy at that age, but if you show them you mean business they will most likely back off and do their work. Stand your ground and you will do fine. Let us know how it goes!
I just had my first fifth grade experience a couple weeks ago. It was originally for 2 days, and it got bumped up to a third. I was kind of dreading it; but, was so happy I finally got my feet wet.
Wow...you DEFINITELY need to bring a nice, big drink with you! I have never talked so much, and I felt I didn't have a lick of free time. I came about an hour early, just so I'd be prepared to teach the lessons. (Thankfully, I remembered how to handle fractions!) And, as you mentioned, you deal with different kinds of issues with a 5th grader than you do the earlier grades.
First thing I did was make a seating chart of where the kids are sitting, so I could keep track of who's who, and call them by name. (Amazing how we learn the disruptive kids names so quickly!) Also, each school has different types of discipline programs. This school has a specific one that is different than all others; and, by the second day, the kids behaved pretty well, knowing they'd possibly be spending their lunch and recess in a special class for kids who get pink slips.
I noticed I had to watch for certain behaviors, where the kids tried to play games that slightly would disprupt the class. (In this one, they came back from lunch, and decided that they'd keep one hand up at all times...and, the last person with theirs up would win.) Also, I noticed that a certain couple kids would always start this up; so, it wasn't too hard to keep an eye on them.
I try to handle all this with an idea of the kids working towards a goal. Many times, it's just a game at the end of the day. (Yeah, even fifth graders like to play Four Corners.) Plus, I try to keep things in perspective. It's tough being a fifth grader, where you suddenly get only one recess. (Hard on us teachers, too. Kids need to blow off some of that energy, I think.)
Also, while I thought it was silly trying to use some of my younger techniques on these kids, I found it still worked. I still gave the kids an indication of how each lesson during the day went with either a smiley face, half smile face, neutral face, and frowny face next to the time and lesson segment of the day; and, amazing how many still wanted the entire class to earn that big smile for each teaching segment I did. (If I'm having trouble with a certain lesson, I go up to the board and put a neutral face or frowny face...and, the kids know they have a chance to make it better before the lesson is done. And, if I work more than a single day with them...or I'm a returning sub later on...they can get two smiley faces during a segment, knowing they improved on their past performance.)
Not sure if this helps at all. Being new to this, I'm sure there are more experience subs on here who might have better advice...or, just because this worked with my first fifth grade class, it might not work with another. But, I try to keep everything positive and have a smile on my face most of the time. I want to have fun, and for the most part, the kids personally ask me to come back next time.
I realize that you are probably in the midst of your day, but I still wanted to offer some advice/thoughts for others that are lurking this thread.
I've noticed at least with the one 5th grade class I was in...be nice and they'll be nice right back. I had one girl say that she liked me because I was a nice sub. All the subs they would have would come in and just yell at them if they talked and stuff like that.
I guess I'm used to talkative classes. I can let it go until it reaches a certain level and I notice that they aren't focusing on their work. Then, I warn them, set a timer for a certain amount of minutes for "quiet work" and then they are allowed to go back to quiet talking.
Constantly go around the room while they work, to make sure each kid is on task and not passing notes, etc. If we did review, I would call children at random so they were on their toes. They also liked that I split the class into two groups and each group competed with each other to get the most questions correct. Got a little rowdy at times, but they were focused on getting the answer correct.
Be fair and consistent. These aren't like the younger kids who just do whatever you tell them to do...they are reaching that age where they want to be a little more defiant and they want to test the limits.
Also, say "hi" to the teachers next door and ask if it's okay to send a student out to them if you have problems. The school where I did a two day sub job encouraged me to send students to neighboring 5th grade classes if a kid was giving me trouble, but luckily enough, it didn't get to that point.
Having read through the advice others have offered here, I don't feel I have a lot to add. Most of my "strategies" have been covered already. Phaedrus offered the "seating plan" advice. That's generally the second thing I do after arrival in the morning. I generally sketch out the classroom layout (actually, I do it in a graphics program on my laptop, but pen and paper would be fine) and identify a helpful-looking student to help me put all the names in the right places. This is particularly help if you get to take the same class again at another time (which I often do).
I always arrive as early as possible in order to get the "lay of the land". The first thing I do is put all the chairs down (the kids would normally do this but I find it makes the classroom fee "ready for business". If it's a nice day, I'll open some windows and get fresh air. I check any notes left by the teacher and then write my name and the day's intended program on the board. By the time the first kids start hovering around, I like to feel totally prepared and relaxed.
And speaking of relaxed, I think that being calm and relaxed counts for a huge amount. It doesn't mean being "soft". Kids have to know that there are non-negotiable consequences for poor choices. But it's hard to expect to have a calm and relaxed class if the teacher isn't modelling that. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, I work from the premise that I need to "be" the change I wish to see in the classroom.
Thanks, everyone, for all the great advice! The day went well, even with this challenging class. I'm glad I don't teach fifth grade every day, but I do appreciate their independence. I will definitely use your suggestions in the future. Thanks again!