HELP! My class is extremely talkative. I can never get all of my kids to stay on task or focus on me without disruptive behavior. I am a first year teacher, so I know that I have much to learn. The first two weeks of school were fine, but now I feel like my class is running all over me. Any ideas of how to gain the control back begining tomorrow?
We are using a color coded card system and marble jar for behavior management.
Please let me know of any suggestions that you have found useful to control behavior issues. I am starting to feel desperate.
I felt just as you do now, last year, my first year. Being inexperienced, I was never sure if I was being hard enough on my kids or if I just had especially chatty kids (and the poor things couldn't help it!).
Now I realize that I should have laid down the law right away, and not let a single unacceptable behavior slip by.Whatever you let them get away with is what they will think is o.k.
I see it now as I start out with a new class and whenever I am tempted to "just let it go", I remember how quickly they will take that as a signal and run with it.Now if I see a student start chatting to his neighbour while I am in the middle of a lesson, I will immediately stop and remind him of my number one rule: No talking when I am talking!
My suggestion is starting tomorrow, let your kids know you plan to make some changes and tell them why. Start to really step up the rewards for every good behavior you notice. Focus heavily on the positive and try to have some other new incentives for those behaving appropriately, such as free choice time, going outside to play or something you know they want. It takes several days of them seeing that you are serious and will follow through before you will get results.
You can get control of your class again!
I know it's tricky your first year, but you are right - you want to get control of this right away.
I agree with the PP - find incentives, but also have direct consequences for breaking the rules (and stick to them). Consistency is the most important thing. Don't worry about them liking you (they will anyway), but they need to know that you are in control of the classroom - don't let them forget it.
Sometimes nonverbal cues are good enough to get the talker to be quiet. Move near the people talking and stand right behind them as you continue teaching the class (it freaks them out - kind of like when a cop is behind you but doesn't have his lights on, he's just tailing you); also, freeze them with a stare and perhaps a raised eyebrow (you can't laugh or smile, though!). One trick I use is, while talking about a lesson, if someone else starts talking I immediately stop speaking - very abruptly - and pause... and wait for them to shut up (truly, it only takes a second, b/c they will all notice your abrupt stop!).
Good luck! The first year is tricky and a big learning year (for the teacher), so don't beat yourself up. Also, don't let the kids rule the class. You can do it!
I have used the tips posted by other teachers, and I can already see a difference in my class (even my child who I thought would for sure cause me headaches everyday for the entire year). Thanks for all of the support.
I think that you need to be more stern with them. I kept on hearing that you shouldn't smile until Christmas break. Make sure to consistently enforce the rules, so they don't think they can walk all over you. Also don't make false "threats" that they know you won't follow through on. Good luck trying to get control back, it is best to do it right away, before you lose them forever!
When my students are too wound up, I sometimes shut off the lights and do some quiet stretching and breathing exercises. They think it's fun and it really does help them focus. I don't use it as a punishment nor do I tell them we're doing it because of their behavior. I just say, "I think we'll do some stretching for a little while." They know the routine and will spread out and get quiet while waiting for me or a student leader to guide them through stretching their arms, legs, etc... and breathing in through the nose, holding it in for 10 seconds, and breathing out through the mouth. I even put on relaxing music sometimes, which at first they thought was goofy but now they like it.
I can vouch for your advice to stop talking! I'm a first-year teacher, and I have just one section of grade 8 math right now. I'm a singer as well, and I'm determined not to ruin my voice by raising my voice - but every other teacher I've observed at the school so far does that! The kids are used to being able to whisper all through class and have the teacher talk over them.
I've tried doing exactly what you said, and it's working fairly well. It feels like I can only get one or two words out at a time, but the pauses make it really obvious that someone is talking. If I pause the very second I suspect someone is talking, their voice is the only one in the room. I notice that it is even stopping the kids from fidgeting and flipping their papers, because I stop talking for that too.
There are some challenging times - like last period on a Friday. I tried a scheme in my student teaching that worked well with grade 9's, and I'm going to try it this coming week if I need to. I told them I was giving them five minutes of free time at the end of class, but any time they wasted would come out of that. Every time I stopped and had to ask someone to turn around or stop talking, I added 15 seconds to the time. (I just had it written on chalk at the side of the board). But then I started erasing the bits of extra time when someone did something good, like putting up their hand instead of yelling out. They figured out that they could get the whole five minutes back, and started shushing each other!
freeing yourself from the overhead and/or TE. I decided three years ago to do that with a EXTREMELY talkative which forces me to walk around and read over the students' shoulders. This keeps them focused on their work and on the right page number.
Also, start over on Monday. Tell them that there are some things that are going to change and tell them how. For the next 4 weeks the classroom is going to have to be run like a dictatorship so that the students know that you are serious. Every behavior that bothers you needs to be put in check. I inform my students the first day of school: "Everyone's house has their own rules. This classroom is my house, and I make the rules. You are NOT at home. What you do at your house is not to be done in my house." Let me tell you if you don't smile while making this speech and say it with a firm voice, the students will know that you're serious. Unfortunately, this has to be done. I learned this from another teacher that if you don't get the behavior the way you want now, you will not be able to teach by Thanksgiving.
I still do reteaching and modeling of good behaviors. Just on Tuesday, my class would not line up quietly in the classroom with both of their hands behind their back. I had them redo it over and over for the next 15 minutes until they finally got it right. They began talking as soon as we left the classroom, and I made them turn around, go back to the room, and sit down. They had to start all over. They got it right, and they were quiet the whole restroom break time. Not only that, I told them that since they wasted 15 precious minutes of my time (and theirs), I would take theirs. So, instead of the usualy 20 minutes of recess, they only got 5. Needless to say, they received their whole 20 minutes the rest of the week.
I know that there are some teachers out there would say that this is cruel and unnecessary, but I pride myself on having a well-behaved class. Once they know that you mean business, you will have the class that you want. You can begin to do group work, literature circles, independent reading time, etc.