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Behaviour - am I a terrible teacher? :(

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Tinysmall, May 20, 2011.

  1. Hello!

    I'm sure this topic comes up all the time - but here goes.
    I'm now on my final of three teaching placements during my PGCE. On all three, I've been told that my voice isn't strong enough and I need to be tighter on my behaviour management. I've just been told this for the third time, when I thought I was actually beginning to get the hang of things.

    Apparently I need to be much tougher (my current class is reception) and my voice just isn't strong enough to command the children when noise levels are high. I've tried so so hard to improve this and I did gain recognition of some improvement on my last placement, but it seems I've reverted again.
    This has really affected my confidence, in a really big way, and I am worried that it means I can't cut it in the 'real' teaching world. Does my class teacher watch me and think, oh my word, she has no idea?!
    I have no idea how to go about making my naturally soft, rather quietly spoken voice, into a big booming one that doesn't shout yet somehow carries enough power to gain the attention I need!
    I am really hoping for some reassurance that this is very normal for trainee teachers, and that there are some great things I can do to help me crack this. I'm determined to get it right before I qualify, but I've run out of ideas. :(
    Please help!
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Maybe find a drum/triangle/tambourine that makes a lot of noise and use that to get their attention and then speak as clearly and loudly as you can manage to give the instructions. A few teachers I know use this for the same reason. Others use it for many other reasons as well.
  3. Hi - yep I use a set of bells to gain attention but that doesn't work consistently!
  4. allotmentlady

    allotmentlady New commenter

    I think witb younger children it is easier to win them over. Speaking as a mum of a year 1 child, she loves anything which turns into a competition.. first one to.. etc.. have you got a star of the week? special chair? system of warning cards.. my daughter is petrified of getting the red one.

    I am struggling with behaviour at secondary. Today I had kids punching the wall.. putting paper messages in their mouth.. and swearing at me.It it only 3 weeks to their GCSE and I am the one who gets it in the neck for not getting them engaged.

    ah well... big glass of wine and tomorrow is another day! keep on [​IMG] good luck x

  5. <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

    I use some methods I&rsquo;ve stolen from my AT and which I will
    now use... forever!

    I use a rainstick to let the class know I want them to
    settle on the carpet. If they&rsquo;re noisy or in the continuous provision areas and
    won&rsquo;t be able to hear or see me, I clap a rhythm and they have to stop what
    they&rsquo;re doing and repeat the clap back to me. This works really well &ndash; it means
    I don&rsquo;t need to shout to get attention. If only a few of them clap I might
    loudly say &lsquo;Oh dear that wasn&rsquo;t very good, let&rsquo;s try again!&rsquo; and clap again. It
    tends to have a ripple effect. If one or two kids are still talking or faffing,
    I might then say &lsquo;thank you so-and-so&rsquo; to the good kids, or &lsquo;I&rsquo;m just waiting
    for so-and-so to show me his face&rsquo; and give them a sharp look.

    The other method I use is &lsquo;The Hand&rsquo;! (another good idea I&rsquo;ve
    stolen). I hold my arm up and show them my hand and count down with my fingers
    to 0 (making a fist at zero, which I hold in the air). They nudge each other
    and whisper &lsquo;the hand, the hand!&rsquo; (they like being first to notice) and again
    it ripples through. They have to be sitting quietly facing me by the time I get
    to 0. I keep my fist up till I have them all ready (holding the fist up after I&rsquo;ve
    counted down shows I&rsquo;m still waiting and not prepared to start) while saying a
    few &lsquo;thank you so-and-so&rsquo; to the kids who are sitting quietly as I do. I
    usually use The Hand when I know at least one or two kids can see me out of the
    corner of their eye (as I literally don&rsquo;t say a word just stick it up in the
    air and wait for one to notice), and the clapping when they&rsquo;re all busy in
    activities etc.

    I also have got a load of stock phrases I tend to use so I&rsquo;m
    never lost for words and feeling like an idiot! Just a sharp, low &lsquo;Oh dear!&rsquo; is
    good, coupled with a sharp/almost shocked face (stole that one from my uni
    tutor). Voice is important, so show the difference in your tone of voice &ndash;
    lower your voice when you mean business.

    In a teacher-input session I will also start out by moving
    kids so they&rsquo;re either sitting near me or away from someone they&rsquo;ll be daft
    with. That sets an expectation with them from the outset. If I&rsquo;ve tried moving
    them, the hand, clapping etc and certain kids are still acting up I will either
    stand them up or send them away from the group to sit near the door or

    Don&rsquo;t be afraid to introduce new methods to them, just
    explain how it will work to them first (&lsquo;when I do this, I want you to&hellip; Let&rsquo;s
    practise it now. I&rsquo;m looking to see who is going to be super at listening&hellip; Who
    will be first to&hellip;.&rsquo; etc) . What works for your class teacher won&rsquo;t necessarily
    work for you and you have to figure out what your expectations are and how you&rsquo;d
    prefer to tackle behaviour in the classroom. Good luck!

  6. I agree with the first part (something or some technique to get their attention without you needing to speak, or raise your voice), but not the second part. Once you've got their attention, speak in a low, calm, perhaps slightly slower voice. If you've got their attention, then speaking at a volume where they have to actively participate in the act of listening (try to get the volume and tone right so that the furthest pupils can JUST hear you) then you will keep their attention.
    In secondary, my main technique is that I will stand at the front and stare. Sometimes it takes 5 seconds, sometimes MUCH MUCH longer, but sooner or later they realise that I'm waiting for them and the ideal situation is when one pupil tells another pupil to "shut up - sir's waiting".
    I know a teacher who will say, quite calmly "if you can hear me, clap your hands". This works well for hm (he's trained his classes to respond with a single clap, not a round of applause!) and means that he only needs to be loud enough for two or three people to hear him, as the others will hear the clap. He'll repeat it until everyone has clapped and gone silent ... he's never had to go above 3 I believe.
  7. ooh I do feel for you - that sounds rough :( hang on in there -- and thanks for the advice :)
  8. Captain Vimes - that is really really useful - thank you so much. I have been using all the usual techniques, but I am finding that if they don't immediately stop and listen I get lost and flustered, and then carry on anyway with what I wanted to say before all of them are listening - which isn't good. But it comes from a worry that if I wait, I'll just fail anyway and we'll be waiting all day! So I really needed advice on what to do next if the initial tactic didn't work, which you've really helped with.
    I did try introducing a similar thing to the hand you mention, so I may start using that much more consistently. I've been unsure whether it's best to continue using class teacher's methods or whether it's ok to introduce my own.
    I also, having given carpet time some thought last night, figured I need to start getting a bit tougher, and if I've warned twice, the third time the child is moved to me - or I keep the disrupters back after carpet time for a talking to about their behaviour. Hopefully this will help to motivate them to behave, because they are all desperate to go off into the environment after carpet time!
    Thanks again- was feeling pretty despondent and you have given me hope!
  9. Really glad
    some of it was useful, Tinysmall! To begin with, I used to worry about what to
    do if they weren&rsquo;t giving me full attention when I&rsquo;d tried all my tricks and my
    AT just told me to be brave with my silences. I literally came in one morning
    and decided I didn&rsquo;t care how long it took, I wasn&rsquo;t going to start until every
    single one was quiet and looking at me. By the end of the day I was really
    pleased (and relieved!), and the next day I thought, well now I know they can
    do it so I&rsquo;m not prepared to accept anything less now! It makes such a
    difference to your confidence.

    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

    </font>If they&rsquo;re
    all settled on the carpet and one or two start chatting or turning round midway
    through, I just stop talking and stare at them. If they don&rsquo;t notice me staring
    I might make a comment or just tell them I&rsquo;d like them to swap places with
    another child on the carpet etc. I&rsquo;ve now pinpointed certain pairings that, no
    matter how many chances you give them, just can&rsquo;t sit together. If I&rsquo;ve been
    miffed with certain kids in a session then I hammer it home afterwards just by
    making them last to leave the carpet (I choose all the good ones to go off and
    choose an area first and leave them till the end. Oh and if they&rsquo;re in the
    areas and mucking around I send them to sit on the carpet as a time-out).

    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

    </font>The big
    turning point for me was that my lovely AT has basically handed the class to me
    so I&rsquo;ve now started introducing a few things that work better for me, e.g. on
    the phonics carpet getting a child to give out pencils etc was a nightmare (how
    many ways can you squabble over which pencil you get?!) I&rsquo;ve changed how I do
    it so now I have the pencils in the middle and they go round the circle
    one-by-one moving in to choose their own. She never had to do this but the
    other method just didn&rsquo;t work for me. Finding your own methods &ndash; thinking through
    what&rsquo;s not working and how you can circumvent it - can really boost your
    confidence. For me, they would get quite lively at the start of phonics over
    something minor like squabbling over a pencil and it&rsquo;d take a lot to pull them
    back again, but now they&rsquo;re much calmer from the start. It&rsquo;s daft little things
    like that that can make a difference.

    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

    </font>Oh and just
    to clarify, when I say a lower voice, I don&rsquo;t mean quieter I mean deeper tone
    of voice to show you&rsquo;re not happy. It&rsquo;s just a bit of contrast that they respond
    to because in key stage 1 your tone of voice has to be a bit like a children&rsquo;s
    TV presenter (i.e. bouncy and varied!). You can&rsquo;t talk to them like adults (or
    even like Year 6s) so changing your tone of voice to reflect your mood sends a
    big signal to them.

    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

    </font>Good luck,
    and keep your chin up - it's great when it works!
  10. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    A good one with my Year 4s, once I have tried clapping or silent countdown (I use a combination of both with my class which usually works) and they are still not quiet, is to lean against the wall or sit in a chair, look at my watch or pick up a book and flick through it looking bored. Those children who are still quiet after my initial technique will inevitably shush those who are talking. They know that when I start to look bored, they're all in danger of losing some of their playtime!
    With regards to carpet time, I simply don't have it. The children sit at their tables for whole class input, so it's harder for them to talk to each other and I don't have them moving around the classroom after I've finished. The only time they sit on the carpet is when we gather into our library area for a story in the afternoon.
    While on placement, you should try the techniques that work for your class teacher, but if they don't work for you try something else. I used a tambourine on my final placement, which only worked because the children hated the sound! I know other teachers in my school who use windchimes or a triangle which I might try next year, as my new class are going to be more bouncy than this year's!
    And the one major rule which I'm sure you know but I'll say anyway; never start or continue speaking to a class if a child is talking. Insist on silence from the beginning and wait as long as you have to!
    Good luck! With your first class as an NQT, decide on which strategies you are going to use from the beginning and give them a couple of weeks. Then if they don't work, change them.
  11. Ive just observed a teacher and she had laminated yellow stars which she handed to the children who were the first to sit quietly with arms crossed. These yellow stars were worth 1 house point each. The kids liked the competition and the reward.
  12. ditwee

    ditwee New commenter

    Whatever you decide, stick with it and be brave about the silences and about waiting until every single child is doing what you want. Then radiate happiness and tell them how clever they are. I will happily make children line up and come back to the carpet 3 times if they are not doing what I want - it is so much more successful in the long run. You don't need a booming voice unless you are on a big playing field. My voice will boom nicely, but I prefer not to overextend it, given the amount of coughs colds and flu I'm continually getting, and instructions or input given in a voice they can only hear if they are not talking is the best level for your voice health. You'll run the risk of ruining your voice if not careful. I had laryngitis a couple of years ago and my voice disappeared - that was fun!
  13. GodOfBiscuits

    GodOfBiscuits New commenter

    Something i've done with scouts and cubs is when a leader raises their hand, everyone else has to raise their hand and be quiet.
    It works well because you only need a fraction of the class/group to be looking at you then it spreads about the room and you get everyone quiet. The added bonus is that when the last couple of people notice, it's when they've suddenly looked up to find that they're the only ones not with their hand up and everyone else is looking at them. Feeling slightly embarrased is a lot better than a telling off.
  14. Just wanted to say that my mentor at my placement School had an incredibly quiet and softly spoken voice. This, though, had absolutely no impact on how his students responded to him. It's a common assumption that teachers need big, booming voices to command respect, but I really don't think that's true. I'm secondary, so I'm not sure if younger children perhaps need that slightly 'louder' voice, but at my School - shouting and talking loudly doesn't really get you anywhere - it's about waiting for silence, and not speaking until you get it. Difficult, I know.
    Anyway, don't get disheartened - this is a skill that can be learnt. You've already had some fantastic advice.
  15. "Anyway, don't get disheartened - this is a skill that can be learnt..."
    Take heart.......yes, yes, yes.....it can be learnt!
    In my PCGE last year (Secondary) I was constantly told that I needed to improve the use of my voice...too quite, didn't get attention etc. I have worked and worked on it, using a lot of the techniques mentioned. I also found a good training session, free from one of the unions (can't remember which one!) about use and care of the voice which gave some good tips of how to project your voice etc. when needed.
    It can be done.....I have recently had one of my NQT observations and the feedback commented on excellent use of voice, routines etc. during whole class sessions. The main thing is to find what works for you and train your class in your ways - they will learn and things will become easier. Remember, when you have your own class, you will be with them for longer and can establish your routines etc. for these situations - it becomes easier!

  16. Just wanted to say thank you to all of you - the advice has been really useful - not just the advice but the words of encouragement and support too. I've bookmarked this thread as I suspect I'll need to keep coming back and re-reading it in the last few weeks of my placement!


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