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Really struggling with behaviour ? please advise

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by dee_23, Sep 17, 2008.




  1. Hi there





    I have posted this on some other forums as I am getting
    desperate. I am a NQT teaching Primary 7 (same as Year 6) in Scotland.
    I?ve had my class for about a month now and I am really struggling with
    behaviour. My main issue is with low level disruption ? it takes so long for
    the class to be silent and they can?t seem to sit for any length of time
    without fiddling or chatting to their neighbour or trying to make each other
    laugh. This means that I spend a large proportion of every day waiting for
    silence, constantly repeating instructions etc. I am trying to follow the
    school behavioural policy as consistently as I can and praise and reward good behaviour.
    However, many of the children have received sanctions for their behaviour but
    rather than encourage them to choose to behave differently, they seem to be
    worse as I am now considered strict and ?horrible?. I have explained to the
    class many times that I am not being unfair, but when they break the (class
    chosen) class rules, they will receive the sanction discussed at the start of
    term. I have also explained that if they choose to disrupt, then lessons will
    take longer and there will be no time for drama or class games at the end of
    the day. When I try and to group work or more active learning, a lot of the class
    muck about and make a racket so I?ve started doing more textbook/ worksheet
    based individual work to keep the class calm. However, now they complain that
    they are bored, and although I have explained why they are learning like this,
    they don?t change their behaviour so they can be trusted to learn in a more
    active way.





    I feel like the class atmosphere has become very negative
    but I?m not sure how to change it. If I stop clamping down so hard when they
    won?t listen/ talk/ throw pencils around etc they will think this type of
    behaviour is acceptable. However, if they don?t choose to change this behaviour,
    their lessons will drag on as I will have to keep stopping and starting to get
    them to follow instructions and work at a suitable noise level and there still
    won?t be time for light hearted relief at the end of the day.





    I feel so frustrated as it seems like a vicious circle but I?m
    just not sure how to break it. It really upsets me that the class is obviously
    not responding to me and my enforcement of the behavioural policy well but I
    don?t know how to change this without letting up on unacceptable behaviour.





    Please help, I need your advice and wisdom!









     



  2. Hi there





    I have posted this on some other forums as I am getting
    desperate. I am a NQT teaching Primary 7 (same as Year 6) in Scotland.
    I?ve had my class for about a month now and I am really struggling with
    behaviour. My main issue is with low level disruption ? it takes so long for
    the class to be silent and they can?t seem to sit for any length of time
    without fiddling or chatting to their neighbour or trying to make each other
    laugh. This means that I spend a large proportion of every day waiting for
    silence, constantly repeating instructions etc. I am trying to follow the
    school behavioural policy as consistently as I can and praise and reward good behaviour.
    However, many of the children have received sanctions for their behaviour but
    rather than encourage them to choose to behave differently, they seem to be
    worse as I am now considered strict and ?horrible?. I have explained to the
    class many times that I am not being unfair, but when they break the (class
    chosen) class rules, they will receive the sanction discussed at the start of
    term. I have also explained that if they choose to disrupt, then lessons will
    take longer and there will be no time for drama or class games at the end of
    the day. When I try and to group work or more active learning, a lot of the class
    muck about and make a racket so I?ve started doing more textbook/ worksheet
    based individual work to keep the class calm. However, now they complain that
    they are bored, and although I have explained why they are learning like this,
    they don?t change their behaviour so they can be trusted to learn in a more
    active way.





    I feel like the class atmosphere has become very negative
    but I?m not sure how to change it. If I stop clamping down so hard when they
    won?t listen/ talk/ throw pencils around etc they will think this type of
    behaviour is acceptable. However, if they don?t choose to change this behaviour,
    their lessons will drag on as I will have to keep stopping and starting to get
    them to follow instructions and work at a suitable noise level and there still
    won?t be time for light hearted relief at the end of the day.





    I feel so frustrated as it seems like a vicious circle but I?m
    just not sure how to break it. It really upsets me that the class is obviously
    not responding to me and my enforcement of the behavioural policy well but I
    don?t know how to change this without letting up on unacceptable behaviour.





    Please help, I need your advice and wisdom!









     
  3. Hi dee,



    You don't mention any kind of reward for children who are doing the right thing. I don't necessarily mean out and out bribery like a toy, but do you praise children who follow instructions? Give stickers/ certificates?



    There are loads of ideas on here, but if you feel it's all getting negative perhaps you could say to the children that you need a fresh start, and really try to find children to praise - easier said than done I know! It just sounds from your post that it is all about consequences right now, maybe if you turn the focus around things might improve? Basically show the children that there is a BENEFIT to following class rules other than you not nagging them! xx
     
  4. Dont Dispair Dee most first year teachers have been where you are. My first advice would be to draw on the support around you. Your not going to be able to do this on your own nor should you be expected. Log the poor behaviour and see what causes it. Their attention spans are short so you need lots of short activities that will stimulate them. keep instruction short and to the point.

    Be consistent with your approach dont talk over them and wait for them to listen.

    Some positive behaviour strategies could inculde have a star chart for those who have been good.
     




  5. Just read over post ? you are right, it is very negative! I
    think I?m feeling a bit sorry for myself at the moment!





    For rewards, I use lots of positive praise, give out House
    Points for working hard/ good behaviour and when they get 10 they ?trade them
    in? for a raffle ticket. This goes into a draw and 5 people are picked who win
    prizes. I also do Star of the Week and am going to start sending notes home for
    good behaviour and effort. The children also get Golden Time on a Friday but
    this is lost if they misbehave. Would it be more positive if no one was
    entitled to Golden Time but they had to earn it?





    In reply to myteachingtrials, I am lucky as the staff and
    SMT are incredibly supportive but I feel as if I?ve been calling on them all
    too much and I really must get to the stage where the class can work hard
    without anyone being sent out etc.



     
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Generally no, but for you at the moment yes. Just tell them on Monday morning that golden time for the class is cancelled. Anyone who wants it must earn it by...........be specific........Say that everyone could earn it or maybe only a few. Really go to town on Friday afternoon praising all those who earned it and just ignore those who didn't. Give those who didn't some meaningful work to do that must be done or be taken home with a note to finish and then give all you attention to those who earnt golden time.
    Why must you? Occasionally there is a child who will never work all week without being sent out. You may have a few in your class. Beating yourself up for asking senior teachers to do what they are paid to do is just daft. (Sorry for being blunt). If a child is a pain, send them out and concentrate your time on those who behave.

    Personally, I would plan some really interesting lessons and tell the children that you want learning to be good for them. Then go over the behaviour you will need to see if they are to continue with the task and what will happen to them if they don't behave. Keep a beady eye on those who are likely to be awful and follow through with your consequences at the first sign of trouble. No warnings, no second chances, however much they howl. Really praise those doing well and at the end lie and say how much you enjoyed the activity because so and so, and so and so....were working and behaving so well. don't mention the fact you are fed up because you sent 8 kids to the head!
    Oh and telling you that you are mean and strict and horrid is just a ploy to get you to stop handing out sanctions. Ignore it and don't take it personally. They have probably told every teacher that every year. Just keep being strict and handing out those sanctions, but teach fun and interesting lessons as well. Smile at the good children, even if it is through clenched teeth.

     
  7. I think you need to make it clear to the kids what they have to do to earn their golden time. Otherwise there will be accusations of unfairness.
     
  8. polly2

    polly2 New commenter

    If it weren't for the fact you said you were teaching in Scotland I would believe that I was teaching your class this week.

    I am teaching 5/6 this week and the problems you illustrate sound like my class today.
     
  9. If you still need help please email me on susangrainey@aol.com for some useful info. files. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to attach them here.
     
  10. Have you seen other teachers using timers and small bells (bit like the teatime bells in the old movies)?

    I am in secondary but the yr7s particulary like this method of attracting their attention when they are oblivious to my expectation that they quieten down for me to talk! I ring the little tinkle type bell and they are miraculously silent within moments.

    The timers work well with students who need to have a responsibility during the lesson. They get to have the chicken timer to remind me to do the plenary, or the pink piggy timer to remind me to give out some answers, or the floating ship timer to remind me of some other nepharious matter.



    Just a thought!




     
  11. That's a good idea, thanks. However, can you over praise a student?
     
  12. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Some brilliant advice going on here.
     
  13. Hi! I love the bell idea - I've seen it work in other classes and am going to buy one myself this weekend
    Have you seen the Video, 'The Classroom Experiment'? It's fantastic and is working well in my Yr 6. They love the cups and ask to use the lollypop sticks. I showed them the video so they would have an idea of what we were going to do and to make sure they were all on board with it, we have a discussion about what is working as well every couple of weeks and make any changes we think are necessary. Going for the kids taking responsibility for their learning seems to be working! They even have to come up with their own Learning Objectives - or whatever word you want to use - at the end of the lesson.
    Following Instructions - Check out the following web page http://www.justriddlesandmore.com/direct.html - I copied and pasted from 'Directions' to the end of the quiz onto a word doument and gave it to the class as part of their Literacy lesson as a starter, without letting on what was going on, on following instructions - shocked faces at the end when we marked it!
    Having had problems with behaviour and following instructions due to this I've now grouped my class (6 per table group) on their behaviour (not ability). (Thank you to the website for this idea - apologies because I can't remember what it was, but it's worked!). Students who are well behaved + focused = 1, well behaved + less focused = 2, some behavour issues + less focus = 3, behaviour issues + no/little focus = 4. The numbers/students are then spread around the groups as equally as possible (with a view to who does not work well with others) and it has worked. I only have problems now when they are allowed to choose who they work with rather than working with someone on their table group.
    One very bright child I had in the past could not help herself from asking questions - she was limited to 5 questions directed at me per day and that was it - once her allocation was done she had to ask her table group - peer pressure works wonders, they were fed up with her asking silly questions ("Do I have to write the date?"). She is now 2 yrs on and uses the 5 questions per day of her own accord when she realises she is asking too many questions to ensure that what she is asking is really worth it - saw her last week and she told me this!
    One other thing that has worked is allowing only 3 questions from the whole class after giving instructions. If they still have a question they can only ask their table group - again, peer pressure.
    Good luck & let me know how it goes!
    Liz
     
  14. In addition to the myriad of great ideas listed above, you need to remember to look after yourself - plenty of sleep, lots of water, some relaxing "you" time. If you are feeling good about yourself, it is easier to maintain positive emotions about your class. And the class will always feed off your vibe. A happy and optimistic teacher who is confident about where they are taking is the class, is much more likely to take that class forward with them. So, look after yourself.
    Every class seems to have one or two kids with more serious behaviour problems, which can change the tone of the whole class. Sometimes this is because they are bored (unlikely, from the sound of your excellent preparation), or more likely from a huge range of underlying causes that may or may not be tracked by your SENCO. Occasionally these might be a new problem (eg, marital discord or break up, parental job loss, sibling stresses etc). While these kids may seem to be the enemy of progress, it is the underlying cause of their problems that is the enemy. Make a point of developing one-to-one (professional) relationships with the trouble-makers. What do they like? What makes them tick? What are they afraid of or bothered by? This is not a quick fix, and will take time and patient effort. But the reward will be a whole class that is able to move forward, and the possibility of individual support for children who have extra needs.
    Examples: one of my students was heavily into fishing for carp. When he was angry or negative, I could often refocus him with a quiet chat about how he liked sitting on the riverbank.
    Another child was discovered to be caring for a sick parent. The only time that he could let off steam was when he was at school, so we developed a "code" for him to let me know how he felt, and I provided opportunities for him to be out of his desk or doing things that could use his energy without being too disruptive.
    A boy's mother had abandoned him and his brother, leaving the father as solo parent. The boy could not related to women in any polite or reasonable manner. Eventually, a younger female member of staff was with his group during a school sports day. He closely watched her throughout the day - taking part, helping kids, eating her lunch, laughing and cheering. The humanity of this excellent young teacher finally made sense to the boy, and he began to use her as his yardstick for normal human interactions.
    None of these examples was easy or quick, but the effects are able to be seen in the progress of their education. I would encourage you to look out for the little keys to unlock each individual.
    Hope this is helpful



     
  15. hsw202

    hsw202 New commenter

    Thank you everybody for your excellent advice. I am in my fourth year of teaching but I still have classes exactly as the first poster describes. I will be using many of these excellent ideas.
     
  16. I would like to add to this thread. I was struggling with behaviour in my lessons until my HoD introduced an Class Charts which uses seating plans and behaviour reports to keep problems to a minimum. Has worked really well so far.
     

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