Hello everyone. So I am in my 7th year teaching, and while I would never consider myself a classroom management expert, I have done well so far. It seems that I teach a different grade every year, so I am constantly learning. Last year I taught first grade, and while it was not for me in terms of content and the kids independence level, I managed the heck out of those kiddos. So, I have always felt like I knew what I was doing. Except for my first year. Good golly...
...anyway. I am teaching fourth grade this year and I am STRUGGLING. They are talkers. I know this is an age old problem, but I have NEVER experienced anything like this. They just ERUPT. If I am talking and I stop to clear my throat, half the class starts chatting. LOUDLY. I'm not kidding. I turned my head to look at the Smart Board today and half the class started a conversation. I feel like I am losing authority over these guys and it is killing me. I am not enjoying my days. I am exhausted. I am overwhelmed. I am unhappy.
Things I have tried:
1. Various incentive systems: I am OVER this. I did it because the rest of the team did, and we are departmentalized. I wanted to be sure we were all on the same page. All of them have proven USELESS. The reward systems, not my team! And yes, it is only December and I have tried 3 different systems. I know, I know. Big problem with consistency there.
Classdojo: nightmare to keep up with. I have 38 fourth graders times 2. We are departmentalized. Can't do it.
Clipchart: nightmare for the same reason
Yelling: ha ha. I know it's not an incentive, and it is so WRONG, but I have lost my cool a few times.
2. Stop, go back out and try it again: Half the class were talking at playground volume going into the room. When we try it again, they go out as slowly and as loudly as they went in!
3. Heart to Heart Talks with the Class.
I don't want an incentive system. I think they become tied to it, and they don't want to do well if I get wrapped up in teaching and forget to give them a reward. These systems tend to work only for the "good" kids anyway, and they do what they are supposed to do regardless.
In this class I also have 5 boys that are VERY difficult. I mean, in the office RPC difficult at least once a week. This is a difficult year to say the least.
I just need some advice y'all because I need to get some teaching done.
I've had classes like this. I have done Whole Brain teaching and the call/response can work wonders if you are into that. If you are not, I'd start rolling out consequences. I'd give one warning and then start writing kids' names down. Three checks or whatever and then give them a refection sheet. If that doesn't work, they can take a note home that they wrote. I think you need a ladder of consequences that will work at your grade level.
Move seats/move kids in rows
Threaten them with parent conferences.
Call the parents in class.
Arrange a parent conference.
Cut time off of recess or lunch detention.
Tell them any unfinished work is homework.
Cut out group work and have a silent class.
I don't know what will work for you, but I hope you can find some "threat" that will help these kids shut their mouths. Obviously, the last steps are office referrals. I like to isolate the four biggest talkers and put them in the "four corners." I also will have kids move their desks facing the wall, my desk, or away from other kids. I put kids in the hallway or in front of another teacher's room. We've even sent kids to other teacher's classes after arranging that before hand.
...I don't want an incentive system. I think they become tied to it, and they don't want to do well if I get wrapped up in teaching and forget to give them a reward. These systems tend to work only for the "good" kids anyway, and they do what they are supposed to do regardless....
Many incentive systems work. Problem is (as you are finding out) some cost you an arm and a leg to manage them. In addition, they can create their own discipline problems ... "Hey Teach! Someone stole my Lucky Bucks!" An effective intervention should do two things: 1) self eliminate 2) reduce the teacher's workload.
It is of little practical use to start a management system (like dojo) in September and still find yourself using it in April. If it's a good management system it should go away. In other words, students test the system, find out they can't get away with anything and give up. The system is used less and less until just a "look" from across the room is all it takes. There are no charts, clips, checks or other visual "threats". Students know the management system is in effect because the system, the teacher, just walked in the door.
An effective management system should not bog the teacher down in record keeping. It should free the teacher to do more important things like plan effective lessons. Beware the system that asks you to tally behavior. Punish one kid and miss the same behavior (like what happened to you) of another kid and first kid and the class will think you are unfair.
If you really want to get on top of discipline, move it to the back burner, consider a look at Fred Jones' Tools For Teaching. Jones' methods were developed from observing hundreds of teachers in real classrooms. Teachers that use his methods correctly report an 85% reduction in discipline problems. And they don't have to pass out any tokens, take away any privileges, call parents or involve the office.
One of the best techniques I've found is the 'free drawing/reward' clock. Draw a clock on the board. For every minute they talk, they get time taken away from an activity they can do on Friday afternoon (dancing, drawing, reading - whatever works for them). I've taken away minutes because a single child was talking. It's a great teamwork builder. If a single child continues to talk, I call parents and discuss the issue. The most a group has ever earned from me was 20 minutes of free drawing.
Keep trying, you can do it - we are all behind you!
I don't know if you have solved your problem yet but here is something that worked for me. I had to go back and begin with making rules together again. They came up with the consequences that were reasonable and they agreed upon. These were signed by each student and posted in the room. We also had to go over procedures. How we enter a room, raise hand, pass papers, line up and so on. It is time consuming but it worked for me.when they got in trouble, we would point to the rubies.
I also had the schedule written on the whiteboard so they could see what was happening throughout the day. If you have an overhead projector write the procedure down for the day.
Good Morning Xlass
1. Walk in quietly
2. Put your book bag and coat away
3. Have 2 pencils sharpened
4. If we have Gym, put your gym shoes on
5. Work on morning work reading and math worksheets)
6. Read quietly
I hope this helps, Good Luck!
Saw this popped back up. I love the free-draw clock idea!
I've also used little sticky notes with really chatty classes. I put one on the corner of each desk, and if the student is talking when they are supposed to be quiet, I take it off. No discussion, no interrupting the flow of my lesson, just step over and pluck it off. All privileges (lining up first, first choice of supplies, any sort of helper request...) go first to those who still have their sticky notes.
I've also found this age responds well to group competitions, so depending on how your desks are arranged, you could have a tally chart on the corner of the board, and give a point at the end of class to the group with the most sticky notes left.
I think the key is getting the kids to understand that there is a time for talking and a time for quiet (which means making sure you work both into your day and practicing the transition between the two) and getting them comfortable with quiet at all. Kids today live in such a noisy world, and get so used to that, that silence actually feels strange to them at first. I think sometimes they talk out of nerves.
Our site went to hear a behavior management specialist named Aaron Stabel. He talks about most behavior problems in class as "Tier 1" problems that can be solved whole-group. There are tiers 2 and 3 for severe problems, but we are concentrating on Tier 1. This deals with all those behaviors that we all have as well as those that some of us have a LOT of: talking and disrespect.
Our site has agreed to try one thing at a time. Last year, we all did a ticket system where we got a roll of raffle-style tickets. Each time a student did something good, participated particularly well, etc., they got a ticket. At the end of the day, I pulled a few tickets for a small prize. It could be a piece of licorice or sticker, or a lot of my kids wanted the "hat for a day" prize. I liked the ones which didn't cost anything. You may pull tickets more often if the reinforcement is needed more often.
The main idea centers around building a 5:1 ratio of positive things said by you to negative things. This is REALLY difficult when all you want to do is scream. Believe me, I know. This is the one we are working on this year - 5:1.
I also had at least 3 horrendous behavior issues last year. They moved on to middle school!! My friend is the VP over there and she has told me that she sees my kids often. One of them actually said he missed me because he knew that I cared about him. It really made me realize - again - that these kids often act the way they do because they have no one who shows them love. It's really hard to do that sometimes but it can make a difference. Oh, and sometimes YOU won't get to see the difference it made, but someone will. Good luck!