I'm curious as to what some of you use to control 6th grade behavior. I'm having problems controlling my 6th grade classroom. I'm in a district who thought it was a great idea to convert all school to a K-8. This is my 1st year with 6th graders and it's not going well. The issues are consistently talking, playing, not following directions, being rude, smart remarks, etc.
This is my sixth year teaching 6th grade. I find that using humor really helps alot. I am pretty laid back, so I don't if they talk (quietly) during their work time.
I use positive discipline to manage their behavior. I believe the philosophy of not using rewards and punishments, but instead teaching kids how to problem solve and control their behaviors. One thing that I believe is key to having a well managed class is class meetings. We have these everyday for about 20 minutes. I take the time to be honest with the kids (today, for instances, they were talking during my lesson. At class meeting I said, "It really bothers me that I put all this time and energy into a lesson, and some of you talked during it. Is there anything you could do differently next time?) Or today I called out a kid that was giving me goofy answers. Privately I said "Joey, I know you are giving those answers to get attention. can you think of a way that you could get atttention appropriately? " He asked if he could tell a joke at the beginning of every day. I said sure, as long as he told me first.
Another thing I do is weekly letters. I will write the kids a letter about how I think things are going, and about my life. They write me back and I try to respond. This helps build community.
I think the key is for 6th graders to respect you and see you as a human being, not just an authority.
This is my 11th year teaching sixth grade and I have found that positive reinforcement works wonders. For example, as a class, if they are behaving, following directions, doing anything well, they are rewarded with marbles in a class marble jar. When they earn up to a certain part of the jar, they each get a "no homework pass" , a chance to grab a prize from the grab bag, and a game day. Individually I give them "star cards" ( I made the on word with clip art) if they are caught being good, answering questions, etc (try giving these out many times throught class to reinforce positive behavior). At the end of the nine weeks they can use the star cards to "buy" items from our class auction (they bring in gently used or new items (books, cool pens, etc.)
I have been doing it for years, and it works, they'll do anything for a marble, and a star card!
P.S. The marbles can be taken out of the jar if they are not behaving.
I buy those big rolls of raffle tickets. At places like Walmart, they are really cheap. I keep a handful in my pocket and when I catch a student being good, I put one on his/her desk. At the end of the period, they put their name on the back of the ticket. I pull one out a week for a small prize, like a sucker or something, and the other kids get one point of extra credit for each ticket. I have a student aide from another grade that handles the management of tallying up the tickets.
I've tried other ideas, but this seems the easiest for me.
We start out the year by telling the students if they get five or less "W's during the next two week theywill have a free period the last period on Friday. They get three choices...one might be go outside and play, another might be play in gym and another a movie in room. The group who goes over the amount has to go to study hall. W's are given for behavior, not having materials, not doing homework,.....After a few weeks we reduce the W's to four and a few weeks later, three. We stop at three and use theat number for the rest of the year.
Jlogan--I think you have great ideas! I am a first-year sixth grade teacher, and my plans were to approach classroom management just as you describe. The first two weeks were awesome, but now their behavior is not what I had hoped. Nothing major, just a lot of talking and getting out of their seats, general lack of focus. It's not bad, but I don't want it to get out of hand. I think I know where I went wrong--I was planning to have classroom meetings regularly, but we were so busy at the beginning of the year (and their behavior was impeccable), so I failed have the class meetings. I don't think it's too late, do you? They really are a great class--I was observed by my principal last week and they could not have behaved any better. They really came through! I'm just wondering how to start the class meetings. I have told them from the beginning that we would have them, but now I'm not sure how to approach the actual meeting. Any suggestions?
P.S. Have you read Beyond Discipline by Alfie Kohn? I really believe that he has good ideas and that what he describes is the ideal classroom, but so far I'm not quite able to pull it off.
I would appreciate any suggestions.
Last edited by jazzbaby; 09-29-2007 at 08:06 AM..
I teach sixth grade too - it's my 5th year : ) I manage the class behavior with free time. You will only need a stopwatch for this. They get 15 minutes every monday and then it goes up and down all week depending on their behavior. If i tell them to take out their journal, pencil, and math book, i'll set a timer for 2 minutes. If they are still not ready when the timer rings, then i will start the stopwatch and deduct all the time they wasted from their free time. It works every time, "She's starting the free time, shhh!!" Anyways, on Friday, I pay them how ever much time they have left for the week. They play games in the room or we will go outside and play kickball together. They like it
Also, my kids sit in groups of 4 or 6. I tell them that the first group to do ____ transition or behavior will earn 2 (or however many) points. We tally the points on teh board all week. The table who wins gets to have their free time on the internet (or choose a snack) for the reward. It's super motivating for the kids. Even the kids who move slow and are always talking through transitions are monitored by the "good citizens" of the class who always want to do things right to please me.
For teh kids who are constantly disruptive, I give them a warning and then send them on a time out in 7th or 8th grade. Find a good teacher at you school in an upper grade who can really debrief them and they'll come back good as new. But if they don't, i make a parent contact and then start the referral process. Or I might put a behavior plan in before the referral. Like if a kid is disruptive, i would monitor them once an hour on a document and give them thumbs up, thumbs sideways, or thumbs down...the more thumbs up they earn the more rewards they can earn.
Email me if you want to see this document and i can send it to you
Jlogan, I really like your ideas and this is the way I would like to run my classroom but I do not have a self contained class. I have 40 min. periods. My kids are extremely chatty, they talk over me, and they cannot follow simple directions. Yet, they are the smarty pants for the 6th graders. 1 group of students I only get for 2 periods, 40 min for each period. The other group I only get for 40 min. a day. This makes it very challening to build that class support through the meetings. Do you have any ideas since I do not have a self contained class? This is my first year teaching every so any ideas would be super super helpful!
I would like to see the document. Could you please send it to me? Thank you!!
Also, I love your idea of earning free time, but there is so much emphasis on learning and the SBAC tests, that it would be a cardinal sin to give them free time. But, I think if you can have them truly focused and learning for 30 to 40 minutes, that it would be worth the free time. Just think of how much time is wasted to get these kids to focus and actually learn something!!
Im a band director and i know 6th graders are pretty hard to deal with. Usually they are the funny/goofy type, sometimes when it gets wayyyy to out of control i go " HEY!!!! YOU BETTER LISTEN TO ME!!! IF YOU DO, YOU GET A GOLD STICKER NEXT TIME WE MEET OK!!" so if they are the funny type, you should try to be the funny type, if they are the serious type, try to be the serious type too. try to mach their actions but do it in a more mature way. One time my 6th graders weren't listening so i taped a giant candy bar on the board and then yelled "CANDYYYY" then they looked right up at me and said where and i pointed to the board and said be good and this might be yours. I've seen that 11 and 12 year olds like the teachers who are more goofy, you know what I mean. Maybe put on a funny video for when they walk in but if it starts to get out of control, don't play a video, but when they start to be good again you can bring something back. that's my advice to you, i hope it works