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Dear Tom - Chatty classes

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by marniott, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. marniott

    marniott New commenter

    I would agree totally with the last poster.

    However, I would like to add a couple of my own points - that may be similar to what has been said.

    Please do not be starting to have "nightmares" about going back - you ARE good and clearly just need to re-establish your authority with your classes.

    I think upon returning in January you need to set your rules from the outset. Make each class/group choose the rules and then you can type them up and display them - you will have to direct (a little) the rule making here so you don't end up with wildly different sets from each class. This way you will end up with a single set of rules for ALL groups that enter your room.

    Your rules MUST include things like:

    - respect for each other

    - respect for property

    - hands up to speak

    Now I know these may seem simple BUT insist upon them being implemented - be a little "mean" if you need to be in order for them to take heed.

    I think for the first lesson back you should stand at the door and wait for them to line up quietly to come into YOUR classroom. Comments (said quite loudly!) like "Well done John - you are standing beautifully. I can see you want your play time today!" (You don't have to say that last bit but it works great with some chn ;-), Try offering house points, time on the piano/instruments for those chn who DO follow your rules. Most importantly DO NOT let them into the class UNTIL they are stood smartly, facing the right way and not talking. You MUST insist on this basic rule BEFORE you enter the class.

    I know this WILL be difficult and may take a while to achieve but you need to keep at it and rest assured with a little "re-training" you will get them where you want them.

    Another great thing that really works with classes I have had is to engage them in Circle Time activities (I know a lot of people think they are a waste of time). Simple games like Oranges and Lemons and Meet and Greet are great for getting a class to calm down and focus. Of course, this would depend on the age of the chn you teach as to whether or not these games would work.

    I am happy to help further and clarify any points - feel free to PM me or post your email address and I will reply.

    Please post back how you get on. The site is amazing for helping people out and you DON'T need to suffer alone - I know it can be very hard when you hit a low spot but rest assured MOST people have been there and come through it - AS WILL YOU!
  2. I know of plenty classes who would happily wait outside a classroom for the entire lesson whilst you wait for silence. The same goes for waiting for silence while a register is taken or a starter activity completed. The most successful method i found was to make contact with home. Let parents know that you are having issues with noise and that you will be introducing dinner and after school detentions in the new year.

    Have worked in tough schools myself and i would calmly note on the board every minute that i was waiting for silence. Would look like a tally chart by the end of the lesson! Would tell pupils that for every minute that i had wasted of my lesson i would double it from their break or after school. Keep a note of the worst offenders and make sure that you carry out the detentions. Will take a couple of weeks but if you persevere with the sanctions it will work.
  3. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    "playing on the piano" sounds so innocent and childish.

    "Interfering with thousands of pounds worth of specialist equipment" is another matter, and is how you should treat it. When you re-assert yourself, put sanctions in place for messing about on the grand piano, etc. Ask your HoD how they deal with it, and maybe see if you can come up with a department policy.

    I think the equivalent of this in another subject would be roaming into a room, turning on the digital projector and fiddling with the smartboard. You're not being at all "restrictive" if you, and your colleagues in the department, take the same attitude towards kids messing about with your stuff.
  4. Thanks all.

    My problem with insisting on silence when taking the register or when they come in is that to the pupils it's a game, and it means they can get out of the lesson. This is the type of school where just getting the kids in school is an achievement. The kids that are being quiet are then neglected. My tactic is to either go to each table and explain the task or give out instructions on a task card to those who are quiet, but again some will happily carry on talking basking in the knowledge that as long as they show ignorance they don't have to do the work. Yes, I can give out detentions but unless the lesson is before break or lunch they're pretty much useless because the pupils won't turn up or when I do keep kids behind the bitching and complaining is ridiculous, and sometimes aggressive. Luckily the school is quite supportive and the staff will help each other out a lot so I can get my HoD and other members of staff in a detention to help. My problem as well with detentions is the damage it's causing to relationships with a set of pupils who are completely disengaged with school and the subject, so detentions are just causing more and more aggro. I will endeavour to call home much more though. Hopefully this will help.
  5. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Do you have to have them quiet* to take the register?
    They need to be actively engaged in something positive. Can you take the approach of part blocking the door and handing them a starter activity on paper as they come in while welcoming them and indicating their seat?
    If they can be kept busy for just those few minutes, you have a chance. Perhaps differentiate the starter activity (different coloured sheets? A symbol at the top of the sheet?) to keep them all occupied?
    Once they're actually doing something, can you then take the register without needing them to respond? Tick them off the class photo or using your seating plan if you're not 100% certain of names?

    * I don't mean accept uproar. But if you can actually get them doing something positive, getting them silent just to take the register is a bit of a risk in my experience. If they're chatting about the task that's a good thing, isn't it?
  6. Oh yeah I do that anyway, to be honest my response was in response to fhe suggestion that I insist on silence for the register. I normally give them something to do as they walk in anyway, I like to start half terms with questions about them and their interests before integrating more subject related starters. Works well with those who want to do it.
  7. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Some great advice here. I would add my emphasis: there doesn't seem to be enough of a focus on the consequences when they misbehave. Detentions aren't pretty, but in a school like this they are essential. There is something here that the kids are foreign to: structure. They treat your room as somewhere they can do as you please. So bring the noise to them with this framework:
    1. The repetition of regular class routine. It sounds like you've got this going on, so keep it up, and try never to deviate from a few set patterns.
    2. That should really be seating as well. If they kick off about it, fix it with this structural tool...
    3. Detentions, meetings, phone calls home. They don't work if you only do them sometimes. The key thing is to make them certain, rather than severe (although sometimes they need to be both). If they don't turn up, or they howl at you, then escalate; get a senior member of the school to deal with them, as they should if the school has any kind of behaviour policy.
    The only reason they behave for some teachers rather than others is because they know that some teachers, they can get away with japes, and some they can't. Become the one they can't. It will take a long time to build up a relationship of trust with them, but for many it will take a while before they know you mean what you say, and that the subject, your space and you, should be valued.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, and follow him here on Twitter.
  8. Hi Kstring,

    How are things going now? I can identify with a lot of what you are experiencing. Particularly as you are a music teacher in a department that has not been looked after in the past. I have found that each term things have improved a little once the continuity and consistency have set in. I find myself on this forum having just had a day of poor behaviour in my music room. I will be implementing a lot of the advice given to you also! Despite the way the students may be behaving, they will enjoy the practical music work greatly so keep this in mind as you reintroduce the instruments to your room. They WILL value being given a quality music education from you, which they sadly havent had in the past. Stick with it long enough and things will come together Im sure.
    Are there any positive reward systems in place in the school? I found sending postcards home for good class work useful. Some of my students were so unused to hearing and recieving praise that a little went a long way. I take students off practical if they cannot follow expectations, which can be carried over into the following lesson if need be. The hod of arts can take these students at the start of a lesson to help get the others set off. Its not pretty but once they see the others enjoying themselves making music they soon want join in.
    Im sure you have tried similar strategies, but to reiterate stay with it! The kids you teach really need a good music teacher like you, so they can learn to express themselves constructively and creatively!

  9. I've started doing the prayer before I send them to get their coats and bags. At this point, they are still 'in a lesson' and are still focussed. A simple change but so successful, I don't know why I hadn't thought about it before.
    I too, used to struggle to get children settled again at the end of the day. Coats, bags, lunch boxes, book bags, PE kits, all distractions and reasons to fuss and make a noise. It is no wonder it can be a struggle expecting them to be as quiet and settled as they had been in the last lesson. I also now do the lunch time prayer immediately after the lesson, before I send them all to wash their hands etc.
  10. If they get their bags, I give them a number as they come back to the floor (quietly, or I make them wait until a few more children come before giving them a number). They fold their arms (or hands on head) so you know they have a number. Then when the bell goes, call out numbers from 1. Thus children who came to the floor last, leave last. Very effective for all but worst offenders, who get to wait til the end by their own doing, not yours.
    Implement a routine where the children who are 'ready' (well-behaved) towards the end of the day get a number (from 1 of course), perhaps when they are preparing for their last activity, like the prayer. After that, they get their bags in that order and come to the floor quietly. Then when the bell goes, if they are sitting properly, start calling numbers from 1 for them to leave. If not quiet, they lose their number. Works, as they want to leave, and it rewards the children who are ready and cooperative.
  11. MissHero

    MissHero New commenter

    I have been using a stopwatch strategy which seems to be working - I'm an NQT teaching in a school with similar challenges to those you have described.

    I usually countdown from 3 when I need students to be quiet - when this fails, I have an online stopwatch displayed on the IW. Once I've counted down, if there is still noise I start the stopwatch, and let it run until all students are quiet and focused on me. I don't discuss the issue or tell any students off, I just sit and wait. At the same time, I write down the names of the students who are making the noise (I find it's normally a core group of no more than 10). I then explain to them that if they are going to waste time during the lesson, I expect them to pay me this back in their own time - usually at lunchtime. Every time they fail to respond to my instructions to listen/be quiet, the timer starts again. By this point, students may well start identifying the trouble-makers themselves and putting pressure on them to shut up!

    At the end of the lesson, I inform all students whose names are on the board that they will be returning at lunchtime to pay me back the time. If it's a lesson straight before lunch, I tell them to come back the next day instead, so that they have to actively return to my room for the consequence of their actions, rather than just being kept in. I also tell them that if they fail to attend when requested, they will have an after school detention and a phone call home.

    With one of my most chatty classes, the first time I used this strategy I spent 40 minutes waiting for silence. The result of this was 2x20 minute lunchtime detentions with the students who were responsible for the noise - I don't intend to make them miss their break altogether, the purpose of this exercise is to cause them maximum inconvenience, not to go hungry. Several students didn't show up, so whilst those present were writing lines, I called their parents there and then in the classroom. Consequence= trouble for those who didn't do as they were asked, both from their parents who have been inconvenienced by their child's teacher calling them when they're likely to be at work, and other students who leave my room and go straight to them and tell them I've called their parents. Also, other students in detention see that I mean business and won't consider skipping if it happens again.

    The next time I had this particular class, the time I waited went from 40 mins to 5. I think that the one wasted lesson was well worth the difference in behaviour as a result, and the focus on learning has increased massively too.
  12. I think you're missing the biggest trick kids love music. If you play then show them how talented you are. Engage with them through their own musical interests. Teaching is about sharing passion and knowledge they will respect you because you are a musician not just a teacher. Anyone can give detentions not everyone can open the door to becoming a rock chick!
  13. can you send one child who is behaving to get their coat and then it is their responsibility to send the next child and so on.
  14. Hi,

    I am having the same problem with some very chatty and rude kids in a lovely class. 2 are very tricky and 6 'd rather follow them than work. Last lesson, I put my expectations on the board, one argued straight away about having to wait for asking a question, I have said that no one says anything or put her hand up till I have finished. The same girl later on complained when I told her to push her chair in, the same took place later on and she answered back. I kept her behind as a consequence and I made her do the work she had opted out. To avoid confrontation, I put the names on the board and I will keep them behind. A deputation then went to moan to their tutor, the head of year and my head of department. Any suggestions?
  15. muso2

    muso2 Established commenter Community helper

    Kstring24 - I feel for you. I have taught at schools where there is a legacy of not treating instruments well - there is some great advice above which I would echo. In the past I have experimented with having written tasks at the start of lessons and found it to be more hassle than it's worth, particularly as it then starts up kids needing to borrow pens and having a piece of paper to throw around, etc.

    I would re-establish your rules for music very clearly inc a caveat rule about following instructions the first time they are given. Make very clear (because otherwise they will argue why can't they play instruments 'cos it's music'...) that music is a practical subject and you want them to be able to make music and make loads of progress in doing this as well as enjoying it. But this can't happen if everyone is randomly playing things - music is a real subject with a curriculum to cover like all their other subjects, and anyone who can't follow instructions or treat people or instruments with respect doesn't get to do the practical work. (Follow through on this - I hardly ever use it now but it gets the message through better than a detention as it is more immediate).

    Carrot and stick.

    Then I'd be sure to get into practical work that involves everyone pretty quickly, making it dead easy to start with and being ridiculously clear about what you expect for every activity. Even something as simple as rhythm clapping games gets everyone involved, listening, and gives you chance to praise them on how well they listened.

    I hardly ever do my register in silence at the start - experiment with different approaches, maybe doing it 10 mins in when they're getting on with something.

    And if you don't have headphones for your keyboards, get some immediately (there may be different schools of thought on this one, but for calm and less distracted classes, I wouldn't be without them).

    Follow whatever school policies there are. Is you hod also music? Do they have the same issues with instruments? If not (and I hope not) ask them for advice and go and watch some lessons, esp in September when expectations are being established).

    I think music is one of the hardest subjects for behaviour management to get started with because there are so many distractions and bits of equipment to deal with, but, although I'm biased, also definitely the best! Keep going!
  16. apeace2012

    apeace2012 New commenter

    Eleanor 10-

    Let them moan and complain to their tutor. It should only become a problem if the tutor or any SLT member of staff thinks what you are doing is unacceptable.

    A few years back I had a few notorious girls that really had it in for me. At one point they threatened to make a complaint to the head teacher.

    My response was "Go ahead see what happens. I've got a fair idea of what will."

    The look on their faces changed dramatically after that point. I didn't win the war with them at that point, but certainly won that battle.

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