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How best do you phrase 'I'll need to hold you back at break time'?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by mature_maths_trainee, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'd like to improve my phrasing when I need to give sanctions to students.

    An example...a few mature and sensible Year 10 students haven't done their homework on time.
    I''ve only just started working with this class, and - wanting to simply set high expectations and work on the assumption that they *would* do their homework - I haven't explicitly said, or 'threatened', what would happen if they didn't do it. [I can see that's a debatable strategy].
    But now they haven't done it. I want to give them the responsibility to sort out the problem. I'll ask them at the end of the lesson what they want to do about it. I expect they'll say, 'hand it in tomorrow', or some such. But I also want to ('automatically') sanction them for not handing it in on time. I'd prefer to just hold them in over break time (given that break immediately follows this lesson).
    But how best to tell then that?
    I don't like lines like 'well you're now wasting my time, so I'll waste 15 minutes of your time'. I want to basicaly just say 'okay, that's fine, hand it in tomorrow - but to remind you (or to 'teach you') not to hand it in late again I want you to stay here for 15 minutes'.
    And what should I get them to do? I definately want it to be a punishment (so sorting out admin things for me, or sorting things out is no good because some students, I believe, actually quite like this (even though they may 'complain', and be losing the freedom of their break time). Also, getting them to do maths is 'bad' because I never want to associate doing maths with 'punishment'.
    I also don't think it's sufficiently serious to warrant writing a 'reflection' on why they didn't hand it in on time, and what they will do in future to make it happen. If it was the 5th time they'd failed to do it, then that might well be appropriate.

    So two questions really.
    i) how to phrase an 'automatic' sanction in a matter-of-fact way, without it sounding vindictive or pathetic.
    ii) what's a good 'punishment' activity to do during break time?

    Thoughts and advice welcome. Thanks.

     
  2. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    I'd like to improve my phrasing when I need to give sanctions to students.

    An example...a few mature and sensible Year 10 students haven't done their homework on time.
    I''ve only just started working with this class, and - wanting to simply set high expectations and work on the assumption that they *would* do their homework - I haven't explicitly said, or 'threatened', what would happen if they didn't do it. [I can see that's a debatable strategy].
    But now they haven't done it. I want to give them the responsibility to sort out the problem. I'll ask them at the end of the lesson what they want to do about it. I expect they'll say, 'hand it in tomorrow', or some such. But I also want to ('automatically') sanction them for not handing it in on time. I'd prefer to just hold them in over break time (given that break immediately follows this lesson).
    But how best to tell then that?
    I don't like lines like 'well you're now wasting my time, so I'll waste 15 minutes of your time'. I want to basicaly just say 'okay, that's fine, hand it in tomorrow - but to remind you (or to 'teach you') not to hand it in late again I want you to stay here for 15 minutes'.
    And what should I get them to do? I definately want it to be a punishment (so sorting out admin things for me, or sorting things out is no good because some students, I believe, actually quite like this (even though they may 'complain', and be losing the freedom of their break time). Also, getting them to do maths is 'bad' because I never want to associate doing maths with 'punishment'.
    I also don't think it's sufficiently serious to warrant writing a 'reflection' on why they didn't hand it in on time, and what they will do in future to make it happen. If it was the 5th time they'd failed to do it, then that might well be appropriate.

    So two questions really.
    i) how to phrase an 'automatic' sanction in a matter-of-fact way, without it sounding vindictive or pathetic.
    ii) what's a good 'punishment' activity to do during break time?

    Thoughts and advice welcome. Thanks.

     
  3. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Have an explicit sanctions system on your wall. Explain why it's there.
    If homework is something you want to concentrate on and train them to hand in, then you state explicitly before the homework is handed in, "not handing in homework will earn such and such a sanction". Discuss with them why it's important. Put that on the wall.
    When pupils don't hand in their homework, you then say, "well, you know the sanction, it's on the wall". It's a simple case of saying, "that's what we agreed" because you've already had the "why it's important" pep talk.
    Quite frankly, I don't like giving detentions, not least because they;re difficult to enforce and usually cause you much more work. I preferred to inconvenience the children: tell them to report to you in the staffroom in the middle of the lunch hour, give them a letter home stating how disappointed you are that the child is falling behind in their wok because of failure to hand in homework, tel them to return it signed by their parent with the homework the next morning and send them on their way. If it's not handed in, then you take it up the line. Maximum disruption for them, minimum disruption for you. However, that's my preference: others of course will see it differently and have the right to do so.
    However, I would also say that this will work MUCH better if, as well as sanctioning the pupils who don't hand in their homework, you REWARD the ones who do. They've done everything you've asked of them: they deserve that recognition. It might be subject-based games at the end of the week with prizes; it might be positive notes home. It's always better to be positive than be negative - showing them you value them getting it right is very important.
     
  4. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    With Y10 and Y11 I agree that the onus should be on them to sort it out. Although I think Ray's idea about the letter home is a good one, I would be more inclined to use it further down the school. I am always frustrated when parents are a first port of call for KS4 because I think we need the kids to take responsibility for their work.

    If I was in your situation and you're trying to introduce a new consequence to deal with the lack of homework you need to start with a simple explanation for those who have failed this time. Simply ask them to stay behind at break and talk to them for a few minutes, ask if there was a problem getting the work in on time, did they understand the task etc... then explain how important it is that they attempt all homework because they need to practice independent work, you can't help them in the exam and all that, and how disappointed you were because you thought they understood the reasons for setting the homework and wanted to achieve well in your subject area. You can tell them plainly that the ones who will lose out will be them in the long run. Tell them where and when you expect the homework will now be handed in and then let them go to their break time... for lots of kids that will be 'sanction' enough because they'll be too late to get in line for a snack and their mates could be anywhere by that point.

    Having taken such a reasoned approach they will probably be more inclined to achieve your expectations for them. Then you can tell the whole class that failure to hand in homework will result in the loss of a break time, or as Ray suggests put a sign up in your classroom. The thing is that it makes for a great opportunity to actually ask them, away from the class, why they haven't done the homework. If they are just disorganised then the sanction might be enough to get them checking their timetable more closely in the morning... but it also means that for the few who didn't understand or are struggling to produce the homework they can ask you and get the guidance they need.

    The fact that you're concerned about this tells me that you're a teacher who does actually care about how well they do and they will know that... I agree that you should always have high expectations of the kids and show disappointment rather than a simplistic rules and consequences based on 'Do as you're told.'

    I don't know what subject area you teach but a 'useful' rather than negative activity to do in a 15 min break is the have GCSE exam questions available and ask them to plan their response to the questions... they don't have time to write the full answer but they could come up with a plan in that time... if they struggle it further reinforces their need to keep on top of the work because there is so much for them to learn.
     
  5. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Ha... sorry.. I just noticed your 'name' and have surmised you might teach maths! So a few maths sections from a GCSE paper should do the trick. You could use the time to reinforce the work being done in lessons or look at questions relating to areas they will have studied lower down the school but perhaps not to GCSE level; that way they recognise the work yet to be done but might take the task as a challenge to regain your respect having let you down.
     
  6. I went through that with my maths group at the beginning of that year.
    Why am I expecting them to do homework? What can they do if they don't
    get it? How and when is it handed in? What happens if it isn't handed
    in?
    Since mine know full well what's expected, I usually go through the class list and tick off the homework (they know better than to try and lie to me about handing it in at that point). For the few who haven't done it, I either know that they were absent...or the only comment on my part is: "Right, lunch." I don't make a big deal about it, and neither do they. I tend to have one or two kids at the most, who don't hand it in on time.
    To be honest, I talk to my pupils about why their homework is late...and what we can do to resolve these problems. Some of them swap between two or three different houses during the week, so yes, work will get lost. I then give them time to complete the work. It's not "punishment", but they do it in their free time. They miss out on the time they've got to play with their friends. I don't really care whether they do their homework at home, or at lunchtime.
    However, mine are younger...

     
  7. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Good advice above. Key things are:
    1. Making sure that sanctions and expectations are known in advance. That way it doesn't appear like an act of whimsy
    2. Tone is important. Just say clearly and calmly, 'I need to see you in break today, as you can expect.' Speak fairly impassively, like you're ordering something at the supermarket.
    3. Keep it simple. Just tell them that they need to stay and why. If you tie yourself in knots worrying too much about their feelings, then they'll pick up on your anxiety. They need to stay. That was one of your rules. So it has to happen.
    Good luck.
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     
  8. Two suggestions, mature trainee, that I hope will be helpful:
    1) Find out what your school/departmental policy is regarding homework and follow that. The pupils should be familiar with that, and therefore will not be surprised when you follow it; you don't need to worry too much about exactly what phraseology to use. What you shouldn't do is invent some news set of rules of your own. Discuss it with your mentor or HoD and agree the approach with them.
    2) Do <u>not</u> "want it to be a punishment" or be looking for "a good 'punishment' activity". Drop the word "punishment" from your lexicon. Your job as a teacher is not to issue "punishments" to young people, it is to see that they learn. For learning to take place you need to run your classroom by a set of rules. Your behaviour management activities should focus for the great majority of the time on praising and rewarding those who follow the rules; sometimes, there may be consequences for non-compliance that involve the use of sanctions of some sort. Don't characterise these sanctions as "punishment"; they should be aimed simply at furthering learning, and used in a calm and constructive way. A "punishment" mentality doesn't work (and it never did); if you adopt that thinking, you will become an unhappy teacher, and your pupils will learn less well.
     
  9. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Good advice. Ask them how they ensure all their students do their homework.
    Very true.
    Good advice. Use of language is important with pupils. Calling it a "resolution" rather than "detention" or "punishment" has worked for me in the past.



     
  10. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Thank you everyone for your thoughts. There's definately ideas there that I like, and can use (I'll actually be going with Zadok1's thoughts).
    Just a couple of thoughts of my own. For this year group (and, given that my students are all reasonably intelligent and responsible individuals), I really don't feel the need to resort to 'rewards' as a motivational tool. I expect them to do their homework on time. I feel that rewarding those who hand the work in on time completely undermines my message that I expect it of them. I appreciate that students in other classes and schools may not be sufficiently mature to appreicate this subtelty, but I want to encourage a large amount of independence too.
    Also, I'm not sure why (again, for a fairly mature set of students) some people feel it's so essential to let students know the precise consequences in advance. I can see that (for immature people) the openness gives it a sense of 'fairness' but: i) it's not actually fair at all, because we know that whatever the sanction imposed, some students will 'hate it', or be inconvenienced by it more than others. ii) it's allows clear, pre-meditated 'game playing' on the part of the students. They can actually weigh up their options, and make a rationale choice as to whether to do their homework or not. I genuinely don't want them to see it as a game in this way. I want them to do it becuase they want to, and to udnerstand that - just as in life generally - the consequences of not doing 'important' things are somewhat unpredictable, and -quite possibly - personalised to them. THe consequence of not getting (say) a GCSE grade C is different for them than for their mate (for whom, if they've already got a quaranteed job with their family) it may not be important at all. I'm just saying that I don't think we're necessarily doing any great educational (or moral) favours by pretending to be 'fair' merely be being 'open'. Maybe.
    I totally agree with JamesTES's points but i) the local policy is rather ambiguous, and I know that different teachers implement a wide range of their own types of sanction. ii) I deliberately, on this occasion, used the word 'punishment' because I wanted to emphasise that I wanted it to be just that - and not something (like arranging books, or putting up display work) that they *might* actually find satisfying. But of course, I never use words like 'punishment' with students themselves. :)
    Thanks again for such stimulating thoughts.

     
  11. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    If it's just a "punishment" it probably won't work. There are many reasons why a pupil might not do their homework. some of these are beyond their control. A detention is an opportunity to talk to a pupil, to form a more positive relationship with them away from any audience they might play up to and most importantly a chance to establish and agree on what is going to happen to ensure future "resolutions" are not needed.
    think about which of the following reasons for not doing homework a "punishment" would prevent a pupil from repeating:
    <ol>[*] The pupil has a home environment so chaotic or difficult they cannot do homework there.[*]The pupil is a carer or has a job meaning they do not have the time to do homework[*]The pupil having weighed up the options has decided that your "punishment" is a better option than doing the homework.[*]The pupil cannot do the homework[*]The pupils fear of failure is so great the will not attempt anything they don't think they will get right.[*]The pupil has never done homework before and rarely been sanctioned for not doing it and so is not particularly inclined to do it[*]the pupil is testing you out to see if you do anything about it when they don't do the homework[*]the pupil forgot about the homework completely</ol>I tend to find that what difficult pupils like least is a lengthy discussion of how they are behaving and what you believe to be the reasons why they are behaving in this way followed by talking through what you expect from them and how they can avoid future discussions about their behaviour. While that discussion could be considered a "punishment" as they don't like it and it is time consuming I prefer to think of it as resolving the problem and giving the pupil guidance as to how to avoid future issues.

     
  12. Don't get me wrong, but I have to admit, I was someone who gave up on homework in Year 9. I just didn't do it...or I did it in the 5 minutes it took our teacher to go round and check it. I just didn't see the point (and quite frankly, most of it was completely pointless). I was bright enough to get away with it...no harm done, my grades were fine, there were no such things as detentions at my school. It was a choice I made back then, as an independent learner. Considering that I went to an academically selective grammar school, we were encouraged to take responsibility for our own learning. (Dropping grades would have meant a move to the local comp.)
    The idea is not that you bribe children with rewards, but that you reward them for doing their best. There is a difference. The children in my class do not do their homework because they expect to get a reward for it. They do their homework because they know I expect them to. Regardless of that, I will give them housepoints for good work, for handing it in on time, etc. People actually like to feel that their work is appreciated, whether that's adults or children.
    "Fairness" doesn't equate with "not hating something". My pupils might only be 10, but they can tell you when a sanction is fair and when it isn't. When it isn't fair, then they will not learn from it (thinking that they shouldn't be in trouble in the first place). When it's fair, they understand the reason why they are in trouble, why there is a certain consequence and how they can avoid it in future. Sanctioning kids has nothing to do with making you feel less resentful or more in control, but with them developing and growing.
    Even at the age you are talking about, children need clear guidelines regarding your expectations and possible consequences. It is what gives them the opportunity to make good choices. Despite the fact, that you seem to believe your pupils are quite sensible and mature already, allow for the idea that actually, they are still children. So while you should begin to treat them more like adults, you cannot always expect them to behave as such.
    Where's the "game" in there, if they end up doing their homework anyway? Nobody has asked you to drop the expectation that they are doing their homework, but you need to consider other factors for them not handing it in on time.
    However, you want pupils to gain independence and responsibility. This doesn't happen when you won't allow them to fail or make poor choices. They are making a choice with regard to their homework. They can't choose, if they aren't clear about the options.
     
  13. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Can I try to persuade you on this, maths?
    We expect a waiter to bring our dinner to us, yet we still say thanks and leave a tip; we expect someone walking through a door at the same time as we are to hold it open for us, yet we still smile and say thanks. Why should we fail to show our appreciation for something someone does just because we expect it of them? We treat total strangers with that level of respect all the time: why on earth are those children we work with every single day not worthy of the same respect and appreciation?
    We are trying to instill good homework habits: positive reinforcement only helps that.
    We are trying to instill good manners: behaving in that way only help that too.
    If I ask a child to do something, and they do it, I'll show my appreciation: that way, they're more likely to do it again. And eventually, the independence comes when a smile gets them doing their homework without a second thought.
     
  14. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I don't think there's any problem telling students about a sanction in advance, it may act as a deterrent for those who have slipped into bad habits and it demonstrates that actions have consequences... in line with this I agree with the others that say positive actions deserve positive reward. That doesn't have to mean a 'prize' every time someone hands in homework on time... but it could be house points or whatever you have as a positive reward for a half term of consistent homework. Rather than making a fuss every home work hand in you're positively reinforcing the their good efforts. I also agree with Ray that all it really takes is a smile and a thank you... equally I know that what student's like best is for you to mark homework quickly and write positive comments that they can read for themselves... and show their parents! You should never underestimate how much kids actually like to be able to tell their parents they are doing well at school. I noticed that when my son moved on to KS4 the staff no longer gave any rewards... I know that it's seen as a part of growing up that they do the work well for the sake of doing well for themselves but I missed being able to praise my son for the number of school rewards he had received each week.

    I know you said your students are mature and sensible but they are children and the bottom line is children need straight lines and positive praise. As do we all in many ways... life is easier if we have a joint policy in the department or in the school and nothing feels better than when one of your students thanks you for the work you do! I guess it's quite nice when colleagues praise us too!
     
  15. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    ...and then fill the space in your "lexicon" it with any of these handy phrases:
    • Chaos in the classroom
    • Misery (for all who wish to learn)
    • Total lack of fairness
    • Resentment from those whose education is stolen from them
    • Resentment (later) from (some of) those who were allowed to get away with misbehaviour
    You should listen to JamesTES; his methods are fully supported by many scientific studies and could never be described as total cobblers that would make your NQT year even harder.

     
  16. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Interesting that some posts (not mine) have been removed from this thread today.
     
  17. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Indeed. Aren't moderators supposed to inform posters why their posts have been removed?
     
  18. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Obviously, maths, your preconceptions mean that any advice I give you isn't really going to be worth much to you. You seemed to ask for new approaches, but don't want to consider them. Of course, that's absolutely fair enough.
    Best of luck with tackling it the way you wanted to in the first place! [​IMG]
     
  19. You seem to be looking for affirmation, not advice!

    I found that positive reinforcement of good students worked far better than punishing less consistent students. I'm not some happy hearted liberal who just wants to smile, draw bunnies, and be happy.

    But with year 9 and 10 groups (and my PGCE group when I was a student!), as soon as one person went on the board in green or a smily face, everyone else, even the bad kids, wanted to be green, or have a smiley face, or be on the board. They actually did their work just so that they could have it.
     
  20. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    The fact that he doesn't hold with the advice he was given in posts 19 and 12 doesn't mean he doen't want any advice at all.
    OP:
    i) "You have done no work for the past 15 minutes so you are staying in for 15 minutes." Then do not allow them to argue. If they do then say "if you argue your detention will be longer". Speak in a firm way; everything you're saying is a 'certain fact'. Make sure you keep them longer if they do argue.
    ii) Graph paper or squared paper should be handy as you teach maths. Draw out an area on the paper and have the pupil fill it with either dots (graph paper) or numbers (squared). Tell them they must finish before they go to avoid further punishment. Make sure it's an area they can actually fill in the time. Save this for the fairly bad offenders though.
    Or...
    Simply let them sit there doing nothing - most pupils hate this. Do not allow them to put their head on the desk etc.

    There are other things they can do. Let us know if you're still stuck. Do not do anything that makes the pupil feel like you need them to do it (e.g. tidying). They will often make a very poor attempt at it anyway.

    Sounds like you're doing a good job so far btw. You're asking pertinent questions and sifting the responses well.

    Good luck.
     

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