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Help! Struggling with classroom management.
Old 09-15-2017, 03:20 PM
 
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I have been a substitute teacher for not even a year yet but I feel like I am significantly struggling with my classroom management. It takes me a while to calm the class down in order to get them to listen to me. A lot of the times during instruction I have my little friends chitchatting away so I stop and wait and tell them I will not talk over them. I also get a lot of those students that are up-and-down out of their seats constantly and disturbing others. Then the occasional downright defiant and disruptive students who mess up the atmosphere of the entire class. I feel bad for punishing the entire class or for the students that want to be there and want to learn but as a substitute it's difficult because a. you don't know any of their names and b.it's almost easier to punish the whole class rather than singling out individual students.

A lot of times I will take minutes away from recess which seems to get them to calm down but I hate keeping students in at recess because that's my quiet time as well. A lot of elementary classrooms I work in use the clip chart classroom management system which works OK and some that don't use a system at all. Basically I'm just looking for any advice on classroom management. Specifically how to get the children to calm down without having to raise my voice or yell and how to keep them from talking over me as I'm giving instructions? I like rewarding students for doing a good job but it becomes quite difficult when all I'm doing all day long is constantly trying to keep those disruptive students in line. Most days I feel like I'm failing. I'm in a program right now to become a teacher and so all of this is very discouraging for me. It makes me question whether not I should become a teacher or not.


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Old 09-15-2017, 04:06 PM
 
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My sympathies. I really could not do this job full time. I only started this week, and already midddle schoolers were talking over me, talking during study hall, ignoring instructions. It's very disheartening. They know you are a sub, so they behave differently. Also, I think the Internet is having an effect; causing them to lose focus a lot sooner and want to be constantly entertained.
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It's not you, it's them!
Old 09-15-2017, 04:55 PM
 
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Don't be too hard on yourself. I have been a classroom teacher for 11 years. I have always been known for my classroom management. I am subbing this year because my husband was transferred out of state and I decided to sub while we settled in. Many classes act completely different when there is a sub. I've pulled out all my tricks and for some classes they just don't work. Subbing is a tough job!
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Totally different...
Old 09-15-2017, 05:47 PM
 
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At this point, I wouldn't take a random one or two day job subbing for kids I'm not familiar with. I have almost zero problems with class management...as long as it's a long term or it's for kids I've had in a long term. These one day jobs? No thanks...without a previous relationship with these kids, you're kind of doomed. I'm sure there are subs who do it well, but I'm not one of them. I can make them behave, but I have to spend the day being rigid and strict, and I simply don't enjoy that.

I feel like kids behave for you, learn from you and do their best for you when you are able to develop a relationship with them. You can't do that with 25-30 in a day or class period.

This job is hard. I promise it's different when you have your own classroom.
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:13 PM
 
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I have to preface this by saying the schools/students I work in/with are well-behaved in general. I always make a seating chart before the students come in (elementary school) if the teacher hasn't left one. (I take a peak at a notebook in their desks to get the names.) That way when they won't calm down I can name off the ones getting a warning. Within 2 or 3 names they're calm. I give 2 warnings before I write it down for the teacher. Sometimes I do this throughout the day. I would rather pick out the noisy ones instead of punish the whole class. However, if I can't distinguish I will keep the whole class in at recess, lunch, end of day but let the ones go who I know were not troublesome. These schools, though, are often the ones where I can just stare them down until they're quiet and tell them I have all the time in the world, but they'll be doing the unfinished work for homework.

Sometimes this is extremely tiring if you do it all day but sometimes it's necessary. Sometimes I think I won't go back to that class. Sometimes it doesn't work and I'm thankful when the day is over. Sometimes I don't know what to do and never figure out what works the whole day, but I've managed to get all my jobs in these schools the last few years (plus they're closer to home) so it's a pleasure for me to go to work.

I have put my time into classes in which nothing works and I want to cry but if you think the kids are manageable wait for some more posts here and try different methods. I'm doing a 3 day job in 6th grade and when I asked the kids what the teacher's quiet signal is they said she doesn't have one, she just yells (6th graders are very noisy). I don't like to yell and I don't have a very loud voice so I experiment with different methods.

Don't give up yet. When I was student teaching (years ago) I had a miserable experience and thought I would finish the program but never work in the classroom. I never taught full-time since I had kids but have loved subbing all these years.


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Old 09-16-2017, 08:58 AM
 
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Thank you! I think I just needed to hear that. I sometimes can be too hard on myself and needed to know it's not just me.
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It takes time to improve your CR Management
Old 09-16-2017, 10:19 AM
 
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skills, and it can be done!

I was a student teacher in 2015 and my mentor had great classroom management skills! She had a sense of humor but she could get strict in an instant. The kids adored her! She taught elementary school for 12 years then switched to School Media/Library Science. I learned a lot from her!

The rest I learned from: (a) 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers: Effective Classroom Discipline PreK through Grade 8. - Phelan and Schonour, and (b) Smart Classroom Management, a free weekly blog by Michael Linsin.

It takes time and you have to have a plan. You have to know what your rules are and what consequences you will give, and how to do so consistently. In 1-2-3 Magic, the book tells you how to make rules, consequences and how to proceed. On the Smart Management website, Linsin has articles going back 7 or 8 years (with teacher comments) that are indexed for specific issues. I love his site!

Don't punish the whole class. Take away minutes from recess from offending students... let them sit at the fence, table, etc. and finish incomplete work while everyone else is playing. Or have them run/walk laps before being allowed to play at recess. Sometimes the teachers who manage recess have a clipboard and add names of those who need to run laps.

Get your signal to get the whole class's eyes on you... ring a bell, clap your hands, say "1-2-3, eyes on me....(they repeat 1-2-3 eyes on you!)... or something... you and they can decide what the "attention getting signal'' should be.

When I sub for a class, I introduce myself, and remind them about their teacher's or school's rules... sometimes the rules are displayed prominently in the classroom..... sometimes not. I remind them that they have to 'raise their hands and wait before doing anything! (This is a good time to discuss what the emergency signal is for going to the bathroom!)

If the teacher across the hallway or next door switches classes or groups with me, I like to ask in the students' hearing what the procedure is for going to the bathroom, etc... because students will take advantage of a sub's lack of knowledge to do something that is not allowed.... like lurking in the hallways!

There will be no getting out of the seat to throw something away, talk to a friend, sharpen a pencil, or come to me. Raise your hand, and wait! I always ask their names, and make a note of the well-behaved ones and disruptive ones for their teachers. There is no talking during instruction time... during on-task work time there is Ninja -mode whispering or if it's a quizz/test.... zero talking. There is no talking in the hallways.

Yes, I have to remind them... because getting out of their seats and talking is contagious. So I remind them, and I remind them that I sub in other classrooms in their school, so they will see me again.

I have been subbing now for two years in two different states. I've found that I like the elementary age students because they are open to listening. Half the battle is to find out the procedures their teachers have been using, and the other half is showing the confidence you have in yourself to do the job.

I don't like giving out rewards, but I do like giving incentives. My incentives are story-telling. I bring interesting books with me (I am a librarian) to read to the students when time permits. I've found that K-5 enjoy a good story! And generally I'll put a riddle of some sort on the board to pique the interest of students before they come into the room.

I also found that students act differently depending on their main teacher's classroom management style, their grade level, and their IEP ratio in the classroom. Last year, at one school that I really like, I stopped subbing for 5th grade after trying 3 of the 6 5th-grade-teachers classes! Those students were out of control! In one class they made a 18-year-tenured veteran teacher cry! (I feel for the middle school teachers who inherited those kids). The 5th grade students at the other school I subbed for were okay (Their teacher had strict expectations. The mention of leaving her a note about behavior issues was enough to rein in the class! So last year, I subbed for 1-4th, but mainly 1st and 2nd graders. These students love procedures and are open to learning new things.

This year, I am now subbing for 7 elementary schools. The new crop of 5th graders are better! I subbed in a 1st grade class that was almost as bad as that one class of last year's 5th graders. Their student teacher and I used their clip chart tickets to reel them in (but their main teacher hasn't set her classroom management firmly with them yet; it's still early).

I love the flexibility that being a sub provides, and I love subbing in different schools. I build rapport with students by being consistent in enforcing rules and consequences in their classrooms. I remind them that if we can complete the work their teacher has set for the class, I will read to them from one of 4 stories I have brought with me.

I get calls from sub coordinators to come in quite often (I leave my business card with teachers and the school secretary. I believe students want structure and a safe place to learn.

I am a School Media Specialist, so I get to sub in the regular classrooms and the Media Center/Learning Commons. And I am being offered a part-time School Media job at a private school. Yaaaaaaaay!

Having your own class/students: Last year my daughter began teaching a few weeks after school had started, so she had a new admin system to learn, school culture, procedures, and classes of student personalities... she walked into the lion's den! This year, she is prepared with her own rules/consequences and procedures, and loving life! She loves going to work!

Last edited by KatrynG; 09-16-2017 at 11:44 AM.. Reason: added thoughts
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Old 09-16-2017, 11:48 AM
 
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I'm in my 3rd year subbing and I just thought "I can't ever win at this job" as I was walking out of a school on Friday. I struggle with the classroom management as well---or is it just the kids totally taking advantage of me? I pull out all stops and it's exhausting.
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Old 09-16-2017, 12:42 PM
 
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Even after 20 years of subbing, I still do not have all the answers, but there are some things that will increase your chances of success.

It is extremely important that you show immediate respect for the students as they are walking in the door. You need to make the students think that you are delighted to see them. Say hello to each student with a smile as they walk in.

Let them know that the day should not be too hard at all, as long as they are focused and good listeners.

Tell them that you really enjoy, and look forward to giving the class a great report. and that it is fun for you to move clips up.

Let them know that moving clips down, or giving bad news is not fun, and that if you just follow the classroom rules, you will all get a great report, and that you will not have to worry about my recommending extra homework to your teacher.

Remind them that they are all very smart or they would not be here, so you would like them to participate and answer questions if called upon or to volunteer answers.

I also tell them that wrong answers are OK because everyone gives wrong answers sometimes, and I do not tell your teacher or lower clips for incorrect answers.

I add, however, that the only time you will be reported for a wrong answer is if the reason for the wrong answer was you were talking instead of listening.

I also make sure to praise as many students as possible out loud so others can hear.

" Everyone should be doing what ,,, and... and ;;; are doing." is something I say often.

I praise their writing , their drawing their focus etc...

If someone becomes loud, I will say, "I guess ...... wants extra homework since they are not working now".

I also tell students that i want to be fair when I call on them to pass things out , go to the office, etc, and to please let me know if I am not being fair.

In short, if you let students know tou care about, them , and have high expectations from them. you have a better chance at a good day.
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Students do like praise
Old 09-16-2017, 02:32 PM
 
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Sirsubalot, students do like praise. The second graders will stand in line to show me their writing samples to get a "I like how you write your letters!" or "That is soooooo neat!" or "That is such a beautiful picture. I like the colors you used!"


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Old 09-16-2017, 05:57 PM
 
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Hello Jsub
You've got lots of good advice already, so I will just add that as a sub, it will take time to develop your skills.

The substitute handbook that the larger school districts pass out, are chock-full of excellent advice. Sometimes humor helps; other times being stern and popping the whip is the only thing that works. You can promise treats at the end of the day to those well behaved.

As a substitute you have to have a big bag of tricks, because we all know that it's an age-old thing for kids to act-up when the teacher is absent.

With elementary kids, threats of calling parents, suspension, leaving a bad report for teacher works.

I have used the behavior system that permits the troublemakers to earn their way back out of the dog house.

Substituting is hard job, you will have to work on your delivery.
Good luck
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what's worked for me
Old 09-17-2017, 05:42 AM
 
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First, I would read through the forum and thread available here PLUS the forum on "Classroom Management" especially for supply teachers. Here's a few tips:
1) Arrive early so you can know the "layout" of the land.
2) Take charge before they enter the room. This could mean lining them up before entering and expecting them to be quiet while they stand in line. Standing at the door makes your presence known and it sends the message of dominance and proximity. Introduce yourself and your expectations once everyone's in. Use your teacher voice without the yelling. Do not feel overwhelmed and do take your time. Remember to stop if someone is interrupting and stare them down.
3) Try to remember people's names by locus/place. Ideally, you need to remember the notable troublemaker's names and faces especially if they're mentioned in a plan/instruction. It does take a bit of an effort. If there's no seating chart, make one up as you call each student's name and write the chart on some scratch paper. This will help your mem and figure out name of trouble makers.
4) If available or through your spidey sense, discern students who are trustworthy and get them on your side privately. Utilize their aid to send or pickup any notices from the main office.

Although it isn't fair to discipline the whole class, I can understand why there's adult sthat do this. As much as possible deal with the troublemaker and focus on the good.
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The myth of classroom management...
Old 09-18-2017, 06:09 AM
 
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You've received lots of good suggestions, some quite specific. I'd just add a few comments a conceptual level:
1. The only behavior you can truly control in your classroom is your own. Your behavior will impact what the kids do (and don't) do. Think about how what you do and say will impact the kids.
2. Keep a laser focus on teaching/learning... make it clear there's no time for "foolishness" and things that don't contribute to the lesson.
3. Lavish attention on the kids who are "with" you. Make sure the kids notice it. "I love how Sally is working so hard on..." Ignore the disrupters unless they are really over the top. (This one's hard but worth it. Very often disrupters love the attention it gets them. What you are paying attention to is a clear demonstration of what's important to you. I have actually told kids I will ignore them until they show me they can...(be quiet, sit still, etc.)
4. Taking away recess is self-defeating. They need to burn off energy. When we have work to do, I'll say (make it age/grade appropriate) we have 30 minutes to get this done. We need to do it carefully and correctly so we're proud of it... if that takes less than 30 minutes, we'll have some free time to draw (color, read)...
5. Punishment is sometimes necessary, but not very effective when it comes to changing behavior. When it's necessary to punish, make sure the kids aren't thinking about what you are doing to them, they are thinking about what they did (or didn't do). #4 is a positive example of that--I don't decide to reward them, they earn it... if they don't stay on task, they decided they didn't want the free time.
6. Be OCD. If your expectation is "raise hand before speaking" NEVER acknowledge someone who doesn't raise their hand.

This is, of course, harder for a sub because we are typically working in a compressed time period. Just jump right in. Personally, I'm a "fast" teacher. There's always a sense of urgency in my classroom (unless we're on break, having a brain break, etc.). I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but it's worth it... if you can do that, I think you'll see a reduction in issues and a speedup of transitions.
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relationship is key
Old 09-18-2017, 07:01 AM
 
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I agree that its a tough job, but I have found that giving a brief bio of myself with the kids who do not know me, goes a long way. I tell them that I love being with them, that their generation is exceptional, and I have made a lot of money in the past, and have been very successful in business, but I'm old enough to do more than make money, and that they are important to me. its a good way to get their buy-in, and then you can get started. basically tell them why you are motivated to spend the day with them, that they are worth your time, and you look forward to seeing the amazing stuff they can do.

I lecture with stories, and a good story will also make for motivated students who want to hear another. you have to be a decent story teller for this to work, but a good story that is relevant to what is going on in the classroom works from kindergarten to seniors in high school. I have been subbing three years, and I taught full-time for four years a decade ago, once the kiddos know you, the discipline issues get much better.
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:50 AM
 
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Junior high and High school classroom management strategy.

Hi, I'm a second year substitute and i've had a lot of experience in classroom management. I find it is especially hard with substitutes as we cannot see these students every day in order to establish and enforce expectations. I have devised the following approach to help with controlling a classroom.

First, you will always have to adjust your approach to classroom management as some students will try to take things farther than others, so I always show up early and observe students in the classroom before the day even starts. This will give you an idea of what sort of day you are going to face.

Second I begin by introducing myself and telling the students a few quick facts about myself, this can then transition into laying out my expectations very clearly. I always tell classes, especially if i know they will give me a hard time that i have no problem sending students to the office. You have to let them know upfront what you expect and what will happen if they act up. This will save time and you won't have to wait until the first incident to explain yourself.

Thirdly, don't be afraid to raise your voice and put a stop to the conversation. Every student I've ever met will push and push until you stop them. So if there are behavioural problems I always call them out asap.

Fourth, sacrifice the worst sheep. If you have a class where 2 or more students are continuously acting out and being disruptive, after 1-2 warnings you have to send them to the office. This will not only remove one disruptive element, but will show the rest of the class what is going to happen if the class continues the undesired behaviour. I always send someone down when they get too out of hand and warn the rest of the class that you'll keep going if necessary.

Fifth, If you need to sacrifice a second and third. The most i've ever gotten to is 3 and that was one of the worst High school classes I've ever heard of. I guarantee you that even the worst of classes will calm down by the time you put 3 of the worst one's down to the office.

If you're worried about explaining it all to the principal, just use this phrase. "I had to get this student out of my class because if he stayed any longer i would have lost control altogether and I couldn't allow that to happen." Every principal I've ever said that to has responded by saying "well done, of good for you"
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Sent to the Office
Old 09-19-2017, 03:01 PM
 
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There is a lot of truth in what you're saying about sending a student to the office. The class is watching you and how much you let get by. In the elementary schools I work in, we are told to use the "office" button to call and let admin know of any problems.

The first year I subbed, I was afraid that my using that button would reflect badly upon me. Now, I know that after warning students I will use it and following through, my classes are a lot calmer. (I've only had to send one student out to calm a class).

Last year, one fifth grader refused to leave, so I got the teacher across the hall to come in and talk to him; he refused to leave for her, too... started crying; she called the Asst. Principal to come and get him!

(I had told him on his second warning that the next time I was calling the office. And I had told the class that per the teacher's instructions I would be letting her know who behaved well or badly.)

The rest of the class went totally quiet, calmed completely down, and class went on.
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