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Chatty Yr8 - new strategy needed?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by zimon, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. I'm 3 weeks into a new job as an NQT, and am having problems with a couple of Y8 classes.
    I am unable to get on with the planned lesson because of continious low level disruption - the classes are just too chatty.
    Each lesson I give them several opportunities, but I rarely get through my starter - as a result, for the last three lessons they have ended up silently answering questions from a textbook. Last lesson I told them if they could do five solid minutes working in silence, then we could continue with the proper lesson. They did so we tried to start again, but they wouldn't shut up, so ended up back with the textbooks. I have been using the textbooks as a punishment, but I'm not convinced that it's effective, and some of the more disruptive students prefer this to doing 'proper' lessons.
    I have put them in an A-Z seating plan, made a fuss, shouted and waited
    for long periods of time. I have brought some and all back for breaktime
    detentions. It is a large group (30+) so difficult to move individual students in the room, and so many are chatting, it is hard to pinpoint individual students. When do pinpoint them, they seem to like having their name on the board.
    They are set 2, so perfectly able, and I have been doing the same lessons successfully with another year 8 group (so I know that they are at least reasonably interesting).
    I'm wondering whether I should keep soldiering on with this method, or can anyone suggest anything else I can try please?

  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Zimon, here's a thing; you make it sound as if the quiet book work somehow isn't a proper lesson. The truth is, it IS a proper lesson if they're learning. We do whatever it takes, and what works with some classes won't work with others. Some classes are great with group work, some with paired work, and some need a lot more individual, head-down, get-the-bloody-books-out lessons.
    The sad thing is that educational orthodoxy is so heavily tilted towards group learning and independent novelty-teaching that new teachers feel they're 'letting the kids down' if they aren't all roving round the classroom working out new ways of dropping eggs from the school roof without breaking. Brother.
    What works with this class, you have found, is the old-school approach. Fine; stick with it. It gives you time to focus on taking names and establishing boundaries. As your relationship with them builds you can try some of the more trusting activities. But tread softly- some kids need firmer guidelines more than others. The craft is in recognising when.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, or follow him on Twitter here.
  3. Thanks for your advice! It's good to be reassured that I'm on the right tracks!
    I've had them a few more times since then, and have found that the threat of phoning parents can be a very powerful tool! There has been some improvement (not a lot, but baby steps!) - I also have a similar group for PSHE, which is my next challenge.... watch this space!
  4. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    I couldn't even get mine to walk in quietly today. [​IMG] After school I decided to do what I'd been meaning to do for a long time and phone the parents of the NICE kids to tell them that their offspring are doing well. I had some encouraging conversations and felt that this exercise was really worthwhile.
  5. Sound advice as usual from Tom.
    Behavour management is tough if you're inexperienced, so you have to tailor your lessons to allow yourself easy identification of ringleaders. Then you can divide and conquer. Come down like a ton of bricks on the ringleaders.
    Lessons where the pupils are working silently from worksheets or the book make it much easier to see where the problems are stemming from, so why not? Trouble is, if you don't do something to identify the ringleaders then the good kids will turn bad too.

    You must sort the behaviour out, its rule no. 1 - no learning happens if you don't.
  6. Oh and don't feel a failure or beat yourself up about it because even experienced teachers get their 'nemesis' class!
  7. Have had similar problems. Why is it always Y8? Solutions that have been suggested & have sometimes worked include:
    * walking round the class while quiet work is happening & praising good workers. Even bad pupils enjoy being praised so 'catch them being good' and this may mean they look for less attention by being bad later.
    * get chatty ones to stand up. This does not always work - they may get the limelight they crave but in my school the pupils hate having to stand up while the others around them are sitting. I make the standers continue with lesson activites (writing, reading or whatever) and they are NOT ALLOWED to lean against the table or a chair or have one foot on the bar of a chair. I explain that, if they are having problems concentrating while sitting down, then maybe they can concentrate better standing. I let them sit again after 5 -8 mins.
    * ask or observe other teachers with the same class.
    * set a seating plan - this sends the message that you are in charge and it means you can separate the trouble makers and / or get them to sit at the front / edge. Change the plan every half term so pupils get a different view of the board, the miscreants get moved around & you get to demonstrate your power again!
    * have a 'sin bin' or 'sinners seat'. We have a spare single desk at the front of the class beside the teachers desk, available to anyone who clearly can't concentrate properly in their normal seat.
    * have an 'orderly entry' and 'orderly departure' from the class room if possible. The former helps them settle & is easier with a seating plan. Don't be afraid of 'wasting time' sending them out at the start of a lesson if they came in too noisily. The investment pays off. The latter will mean that they know they can't leave the room until they are quiet. I let pupils at the 'quietest, tidiest' tables leave first. I decide the order of the tables. It is amazing how quickly & quietly they can pack away when they know it means they get to lunch or break a few seconds earlier. Any one who talks, delays the departure of their whole table.
    * send the bad ones out. This is a last resort. I ended up having to do
    this as a supply teacher covering a GCSE syllabus in the run up to the
    exam. I had a very supportive management team who recognised that the
    disruptive ones were messing things up for the others. In the end, I had
    a class of pupils who actually wanted to learn. This may not work for
    Y8 though.

    All the best on this problem - you will have to find your style!

  8. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Also, what about using raffle tickets which you distribute to the hard workers each lesson? At the end of the week you can draw prizes, e.g: snazzy pencils, stickers etc. This is a great idea which someone else mentioned somewhere, I think.
  9. I am year 8 tutor (for the second time round) this year and I can totallly relate. I really do think some/a lot of it is hormonal...big time! I find when teaching year 8s (have 2 groups-7 and 8 of 8) that I remain very quiet with them. My strategy/approach is:
    1. Song playing as they enter the room, pupils go to the year 8(9/10/11/7 box and collect their books)
    2. A "to get you thinking" task-SHORT and fun/interesting( eg: today-What makes a good song?..then linked to writing/tone/style etc) WRITTEN on board/ IWB...me not talking at all.
    TGYT finished pupils stand behind chairs for a formal greeting (usually about 5 minutes in)
    3L/O displayed about 5 mins in,possibly starter task ....
    4. Body of lesson etc

    This simply means that the first 5 minutes of the lesson pupils are independent and you get into the habit of not having to direct them. They learn what happens-the procedure I suppose- and just do it. They like the autonomy of getting books and getting settled and started minus teacher input. Inevitably one of them will say "OH I'll put books on desks etc" so they feel independent.
    I know this isn't revolutionary but chatty pupils respond to stucture and independent work at the beginning of a lesson...the start is the key if you want them on task!

    It simply means that

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