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Behaviour management in MFL

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by musiclover1, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    There's absolutely no way that I could ever do 'no smile before xmas'. I think I can manage no smile for the first 10 minutes of a lesson and after that I turn into the real me who quite enjoys being with kids. Which is why some of them think I'm a soft touch I suppose? They mostly quite like me and they quite like my lessons, but they just don't see why they should walk in or work in silence, or shut up and listen to instructions when they have so much to say.
  2. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Thank you, noemie, I didn't see your helpful post yesterday, but I've read it now. You're right of course and I'll try and be more assertive about what I want. The walking in is a really good example - I want them to walk in quietly, and with other classes I send individuals out who walk in noisily, but with this class I invariably get distracted by the number of individuals urgently requiring my attention, and the next minute loads of people are talking, so I'd have to send them all out again. That I don't want to do (because I want to get through my work, plus I don't want to crowd the corridor, and I'm not desperate for other teachers to see that I'm not managing to start my lesson on time), so I end up just getting them quiet (mainly by praising those who've got ready nicely) and I do get silence eventually, but it's not what I want, what I want is for them to walk in quietly so that I don't have to wait for silence. And I do get silence for Listening Comprehenions (of course), but not for reading and writing activities because as soon as I help an individual pupil the others don't feel closely watched, so the noise level goes up. No, I wouldn't want them to be completely silent all the time, but there's never any danger of that in any of my lessons!

  3. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    I would also add that it is often a good strategy to work on individuals, maybe at the end of a lesson, to build up positive relationships. It gets hard when you feel the whole class is against you. By the way, I do occasionally shout (to considerable effect), but classes generally don't like teachers who are always badgering them or raising their voice! Have a lovely break.
  4. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Thank you for your encouragement and support, spsmith45 and noemie, I will definitely have a lovely break - same to you as well!!!
  5. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Hi lissadler, have a good break and recharge your batteries. You then might be able to consider 'acting' cross at the right times. You may raise your voice but it will lose the harshness which is often inevitable when you are actually fed up, tired and cross. Personally I don't think shouting/raising your voice matters as much as the tone of your voice. Plenty of times I hear (especially trainees) sounding fed up with children but not shouting - best advice I had when I was an NQT was being told to be able to 'spin on a penny' ie be cross and then turn into 'I really enjoy teaching my subject to you' sort of person- in the blink of an eye . If you have to keep sending the class out - then do so. Do not worry what you think other teachers will think. a) you may be wrong they think you are weak b) they may be wrong about what is best for that group at that time.
    I have a really really chatty group at the moment and they are like that everywhere. They do not enter quietly and they listen for about 1 minute to anyone. They need training on how to behave in a class room and it will take time. I hate making children line up and re-enter the classroom but I think this lot will need it, for example.
  6. Have you tried setting after school detentions for their behaviour. It seems that you've cracked them on getting them to actually turn up for DT, but it seems they are not actually that bothered. The after school DT might prove more of a deterrent for them.
  7. Have you spoken to your HOD? He/she ought to be giving you advice, practical tips. How do your colleagues manage their classes?
  8. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I like that 'spin on a penny' idea, thank you for that. And yes, I need to keep my energy levels up because then I'll be on top of them more. I had a couple of above average lessons with them last week - new term, new energy levels - still keeping quite a few individuals back at the end of the lesson, but the lessons had pace and lots of work got done. I'd better go and prepare Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday's lessons...
    Getting back to the original topic of whether to use target language to discipline children - I haven't been doing it, but I've still tried to use the target language. I got quite frustrated with the ADHD child last week because after telling the class 3 times the page number AND putting the page number up in large writing on the Smartboard, he still asked me what page he was meant to be on. And then I noticed that I'd written 'Seite 46', so it may not have been obvious to him. So next lesson the Smartboard instructions are going to be in English and then we'll see what happens.
    And I haven't spoken to my HOD because she's been on maternity leave, and there's so little time to talk - I'm usually in my classroom at breaktimes, getting ready for the next lesson or supervising detentions, or sometimes even just chatting to pupils. And the colleagues are always busy as well. But I'm sure she'd be very supportive, for example if I wanted to put particular individuals on report. Let's see how this new year goes first.
  9. Hi Lissadler. Good to hear you are feeling a bit more in control of events! Still find it a bit strange, the set-up in your school. Surely there must have been someone you could turn to for support during your HODs maternity leave. Who was doing her job whilst she was away?

  10. spsmith45

    spsmith45 New commenter

    Training kittens, dogs, whatever, probably has something in common with training classes! Keep talking with colleagues and get as much support as possible. Good luck.
  11. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Your question about why I compromised on discipline when I'd just seen it done differently, is a valid one - it's because I'm too soft - I just can't help it. On Wednesday for example, they were in the computer room and I asked them to work without talking, and of course they did talk and after a while I thought 'well, they're doing the work, so what's the harm in the talking? They're having a nice time, they're doing the work, and I'll have such a battle on my hands to get them to work in silence, I'd have to shout and exclude several people, get others to work on paper instead of on computers, and they probably still wouldn't be quiet - I can't do it'.
    I've had a really stressful time in the last couple of days: two full days with no free periods, option evening for Year 9 on Wednesday, meeting after school on Tuesday, and I've been noticing that apart from my HOD visiting my classroom on a regular basis I now also have a few deputy heads visiting or hovering. So I thought 'that's it, they're deciding if I'm good enough to stay on next year'. Because my school is an 'outstanding' boys' grammar they only keep the best teachers - fair enough, I suppose. And then my HOD asked me to meet with her on Wednesday after school, and she told me that although I have done some really good work (e.g. preparing good resources), my standard of discpline wasn't high enough compared with the expectations of the school, and she was going to give me targets to work on for the next two weeks. My targets are to have the class walk in in silence, to have a starter activity ready for them, to insist on silence at all times unless the work involves speaking in pairs, to insist on hands up, and to have an orderly exit to the lesson. If anyone breaks the rules I am to use a three step system: first time name on the board, second time tick against the name and final warning, third time consequence.
    I was really upset about this because after all the effort I've put in it's not very nice to be told that I'm, more or less, failing. And then to have to stay at school until 9pm and go home to prepare another 5 lessons and to know everyone is looking and judging.
    Actually, it wasn't that bad today. My HOD got cover for my year 7 (shame I'd just spent quite a while preparing the lesson - the only lesson I'd managed to prepare quite well for the day),and I was taken on a 'learning walk' round the school where we popped into different people's lessons and observed what they were doing with the kids. I think she was showing me how calm they can be in other lessons and that was quite useful. I saw one other teacher who has lots and lots of the difficult characters that I have - all in the same Maths set - and they were fine with her of course, and she's known them since Year 7, and she said they were very difficult and she was trying various strategies and she'd speak to me about them any time I wanted.
    Then I had two lessons with the new behaviour system. The pupils had to copy the rules of behaviour and then if they so much as breathed they got their name written down on the board. These two lessons were with one of my year 9 classes (not a bad class, but a few characters who've decided they're going to drop German and therefore don't really need to make the effort), and with my other Year 8, who are not as bad as the class that I keep writing about but can also be quite noisy when tired period 4 or 5. In each of those lessons I excluded one pupil because he just couldn't be bothered to take the new system seriously, and my Head of Department came and took them away. And a few people ended up with detentions, but not too many, and I really did have silence all the way through the lessons, and they were proper lessons, with pair work, listening comprehensions and everything. So the system really did help A LOT and I'm feeling much better now and very grateful. Just hope I'll be able to keep it up and not go all 'soft' again. Last lesson I had my nice year 8 and I decided not to introduce the new system yet ( because we were in the computer room), and I really noticed the difference because although they're a nice class I had to work hard to get silence, assert myself, get them to listen etc. So now I will do the new system with all my KS 3 classes, even year 7.
    I'm still feeling quite overwhelmed though because I just don't seem to have the time to prepare my lessons anymore and I have the issue with homework because again I'm being seen as a 'soft touch', so I have so many people not doing their homework and then I have to chase them up with detentions, letters home etc, and it takes so much time and energy to keep on top of it all. But I don't want to give up - not after I've made so much effort to get back into it.
  12. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Woohoo, here's to your successful Y9 lessons!! [​IMG]
    It <u>will</u> get easier so long as you remain consistent. Kids like to know where they stand (they need it, in fact), so if you use two different standards for two different lessons they will make your life hell. The whole "mean teacher" is really an act, and you do it because you care for them and their learning.
    Good luck, I know it's hard to ask for help or welcome it when it is offered (even if, as you say, it is "offered") but it does sound like people want to help and that you're already halfway there.

  13. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Today was so hard - I don't know if it was exhaustion or stress, but I just didn't seem to be able to keep things together. I had my noisy year 8 period 4 and then my big and cocky year 9 period 5, with no break in-between, and of course before that I had all the detentions from the day before, so instead of getting ready for the lessons I was dealing with what they should be doing in the detention, dealing with and telling off the ones that came late, dealing with the ones that came early because they needed to go somewhere else afterwards etc etc. So I just couldn't get my head round the lessons - I really couldn't. My brain was not in working order. From one minute to the next I was putting the worksheets down somewhere and then unable to find them, forgetting what folder I'd filed my lesson plan under etc etc. I got through the lessons somehow, but I'm not proud of them - didn't get through everything I'd planned, had to leave out things that I'd mislaid the photocopies for etc, Several times the kids started talking all at once because I had my attention elsewhere, e.g. trying to retrieve the Listening file on the computer. So, I didn't know whose names to write down. I had Year 8 back for 10 minutes after school about this, so the good ones in that class are really upset with me now. With Year 9 it wasn't so bad. But in both classes they just won't stop asking questions!!! They're all sitting there with their hands up in the air and before I have asked them what they want there is no way of knowing whether their problem is an urgent one (such as I haven't got a worksheet) or whether they're just asking for a word that they could have looked up in the back of the book, or whether they just want to be a bit silly. I thought the starter was a fairly simple cross-word with gap-fill clues (all the sentences in the textbook) - but apparently not - they were all asking loads od questions and some got through the starter and the extension activity whilst others were still fussing about how to fill in the gaps..
    After school I had 8 year 12 for detention for 1 hour because they've not been meeting hwk deadlines. I treated them like grown-ups last term - big mistake as now they just do their work if and when they can be bothered. Basically I'm clamping down on everyone.
    Teaching is just no fun at the moment.
    Oh, and the worst thing I did: I wiped the year 8 names off the board before year 9 walked in, and now I cannot for the life of me remember who I gave detentions to. I really cannot (well, I remember one, but I'm sure there were 2 or 3 all in all...I'm sure I never used to forget things like that. I'm just desperately hoping they'll turn up for detention on Monday. My HOD will be unimpressed, and rightly so.
  14. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    Don't worry- even if the kids don't turn up and they get away with it, it ISN'T the end of the world- it's just some schoolkids swinging the lead. I really hope you don't think I'm being patronising. Once you've been doing the job a bit longer, you will see that classes come and go and you won't even remember the grotbags of yesteryear. It's a ridiculously demanding and difficult job at times, and you're doing the best you can- who can ask for more than that. [​IMG]
  15. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    Just had a proper read of your post.
    Can't you give them afterschool detentions instead of lunchtime ones? By law you are entitled to a lunch-break (I sometimes tell the kids that when they are trying to change their after-schools to lunchtimes, to suit them). Like you (and most people, I suspect), I mentally and physically need breaks, or my lessons are chaotic and my brain is fuzzled.
    You mentioned writing names down when kids spoke when you were trying to find the right sound-file. I would advise you not to- if you are not asking them to do anything, it's natural for anyone to want to communicate with friends- look at staff on inset before anything starts- they are human beings and theyneed a bit of time to communicate with each other, and they are actually doing it right if they see you're busy and don't need them to be silent. If you have asked them to be silent whilst you look for something, they will wonder why, and think you're being a bit unfair- try to be relaxed, yourself (I promise this will come with time)- the best lessons will happen when you are feeling happy and relaxed, because they will feel the vibes and positive expectations and respond. Kids do have to have a bit of breathing space, and I find with my bottom groups, a large part of me getting on well with them is that I do allow the lesson to wander off focus sometimes, so they get the chance to share whatever they want to share and equally feel listened to by me and the others. An example- with my bottom set year 8 yesterday, we are doing food. The first 15 mins was really hard going, then we had a class discussion about what people eat all over the world, with kids telling me about how one had eaten a fried locust, another had accidentally eaten a bee, they eat dogs in China, they have snail farms in France, what's the difference between a garden snail and frog and an edible one, what do they taste like, etc. If you try relaxingf the focus a bit (with difficult groups) and a kid takes the mick and says something REALLY facetious, tell the kid off and appeal, 'If people are going to take the mick then it's obvious we can't have enjoyable discussions about cultural differences'- and if the class STILL can't cope with it, never mind, back to whatever else, and you tried- other classes in the future will respond to this approach. As you get more experienced, it is easier to control the flow of conversation so it doesn't veer too far off/you can still justify it, and I really feel it helps me have a good relationship with my lowest ability groups, with the most notorious kids in there.

    On the hands up thing- tell them- 'Hands down!' . You have just said it is at the point there are so many hands up, you can't cope with it/it alters your lesson plan, so this happening has you on the ropes- so you have to retain control of the situation again. TELL THEM to put their hands down (if anyone complains, say you have an agenda, they have to learn this, this and this every lesson, and how are we going to achieve this if everyone keeps interrupting. You can show the hands-up class your lesson plan and say we have to get up to point 8 today. Just refuse to answer individual questions until you have finished explaining the activity. Tell them you will do this, and ignore the hands up until the whole class has something to do.

  16. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    Sorry, I hope I'm not bombarding you here-
    you kept all the class behind for 10 mins for speaking whilst you were looking for the sound-file. As I've already said, apart from in the future possibly not expecting silence if they have nothing to do, I would suggest if you can't pin the crime on any definite individuals, avoid punishing them all, because you know you will end up with a situation where the good ones will be punished for nothing, and will think that is unfair. If I had felt it worthy of telling off/punishing, I would have had a moan at the whole class, and said from now on if anyone does such and such, they will lose their time, etc. Then don't have a situation in your lesson where you are not watching them when you expect them to be silent- so you can pick up the naughty ones.
    I do understand and I tell the kids myslelf, if more than 4/5/6 kids are talking it is humanly IMPOSSIBLE for the tacher to identify who is talking, so the whole class will stay behind- but then you see at the end you look around and let the good kids go who you KNOW have been good- and even if a kids 'gets away' who has been a bit bad but you didn't see it, when the other, 'caught' kids complain to you that you let them go, you just say, 'I didn't see them, I saw YOU- end of story'. Stand your ground.
    Another strategy you can do if you sense it is the right one (with a class you have just told will all stay behind and you sense it act against you, for example)- try putting minutes on the board that they have wasted of the lesson, that they must now stay behind- then say they can work them off if they behave properly. Then if the lesson goes smoothly, after 5 mins reduce the minutes by a few- you can choose how many minutes are still on the board by the end- sometimes this strategy works well. It won't always work, and you mustn't feel a failure if any strategy you try DOESN'T work- teaching is all about finding which strategies work with which classes- and as I'm sure someone must have already said, anyone, no matter how brilliant a teacher he/she is, is lying if they say they've had riproaring success with every class they have or have had.
  17. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    last bit of advice- with a starter ex, to make it more successful, don't rely on the textbook. It gives lazy kids the opportunity to:
    -waste time handing them out
    -interact with kids they hand them to, thus ignoring kids who haven't yet GOT a book so can't start
    -discuss graffitti/ pictures in the book with their neighbour
    -take 5 mins to open the bloody thing, let alone find the right page
    -if YOU hand them out, what a waste of time, when you could be watching the kids/answering questions.
    -try starters just projected up, where all they need is a pen and their book to write it down (have paper ready for the kids who never bring their books)
    --make them simple- the easiest is match-ups with vocab from last lesson
    OR have a starter on a worksheet, with the mixed- up answers at the bottom of the page.
    I personally don't like crosswords- the brightest kids do them really fast (write down 10 words is about the max you are asking them to do) and the weakest kids find the concept hard to do.
  18. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    argh, one last thing then I promise I will go get a life-
    I've just re-read a few of your earlier posts, so I see now you've been told about the silence at all times- thing and the warning system you have to use.
    The silence thing- if it's in your own 4 walls and no-one is observing and you think talking is ok (like when you were on the computers or when they had nothing to do when you are looking for something (it happens to us all! You should have seen my lessons and desk today! What a mess!)), and <u>they are on task,</u> I think why not- ultimately you have to develop the relationship with them.
    -the warning system- just make sure you're being reasonable- as in, don't punish them if they're talking as they have nothing to do.

    FINALLY just hang on in there. You might even find out a boys' grammar school isn't quite your type of school, and your next one will suit your personality better. I know for a fact I personally wouldn't feel I could be the best teacher I can be in a grammar school or private school, for example. I'm not saying get out of there, but retain your vision of what kind of classroom/teaching and relationship with pupils and colleagues you would ideally like. You will learn heaps from teaching in the school you are at now, just like you will in your next school, if you move.

  19. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Thank you for your time, whapbapboogy, and I'll take on board what you've said.You're right, I'm definitely learning lots, and yes, the school may not be right for me. Time will tell what the future holds and at the moment I'm just trying to do the job as well as I can. I really know what you mean about chatting to the kids and thus establishing positive relationships with them. I love just having a little chat, and I'm just never allowed to do that now, apart from perhaps the few seconds before they walk into the classroom. I used to do that in the detentions - instead of making the detentions really awful, I used to have a chat with them while they were copying, trying to get to know them a bit. And now I wonder why they don't actually care when they're given a detention. All it means is a lunchtime in a nice warm room with me, rather than in the icy playground. So now I've made my detentions horrible, too, no talking, names on the board if they do etc.
    Thanks for the advice about starters - I wasn't trained to use them, so they're new to me, and I find I make them too hard and too long and then the whole lesson loses pace.
    My lessons have been quite quiet this week, and very boring because of the starters taking a long time, and because of just doing work from the book as I was concentrating on sorting out the detentions and the late homework and the marking. I had some quite successful lessons (in Year 9) and some, with year 8, where I still had this problem that they won't stop asking questions (I'll try not to let them next week), and also, where they find it terribly funny when someone's name goes on the board and they all get the giggles. My HoD is coming in next week to observe me and to see if I've made any progress, so I'm going to go and do some preparation in a minute.... Unfortunately I've just got to the end of the chapte, so it's hard to find something new and exciting to do an interesting lesson with.....
    I'm still finding my feet with this behaviour system - at the beginning I literally put their name on the board if they made a noise, with no consideration for anything else, whereas now I do try to differentiate and only give warnings where they're necessary - e.g. not punish someone who very very quietly asks somebody else for a pencil for example. This does then cause problems with consistency etc. Basically, I've become more myself again - more polite, less scary (as if I ever would be).
    I'd better go, have a good week-end.
  20. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Easy starters in MFL are things like 8 anagrams of vocabulary recently introduced. It allows pupils to get working as soon as they arrive in the room and means that things are not on hold as you wait for stragglers.
    You could also have sentences written with a misssing word and three options to fill the gap, only one of which will work in the sentence.
    Odd one out also works well as they there may be several right answers- they might pick a word as the odd one out because it's not an adjective/noun or verb or someone might select something else because it's not related to a certain topic. You can link them to areas being covered like masculine/feminine or singular/plural or verb tenses.
    You could have a whole range of such starters ready on the computer, much quicker than years ago when we had to write them on the board or make an acetate for the OHP.
    Try to have their exercise books on their tables ready to forestall any nonsense and time-wasting.

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