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Struggling to get children to listen/pay attention and it's affecting other pupils too

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by MCJAJAI, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Glad you had a better day and I doubt it is beginners luck although having the ringleader away must have helped.

    Stay positive.

    Stop the class if they are noisy and point to the rule on the board: follow instructions, work without disturbing others.

    You must practise and stay positive.

    Give plenty of praise where it is due.

    Focus on what went well yesterday - you had a good day the best one so far so build on that.

    Try to enjoy working with the children - it isn't the end of the world if they don't behave perfectly every day. That is what I learnt after NINE years!
  2. ladylyra

    ladylyra New commenter

    Congrats for taking control! It's so hard to do and you've obviously made good steps. Remember kids love boundaries and even when you feel like you're being firm and stern, you're just doing the best thing for them.

    Do you ask for quieter or silent? If my class couldn't handle quiet for three warnings we'd go to silent and anyone who continued talking owed me minutes at break for wasting my teaching time and others' learning times.

    Really go over the top with praise. "Johnny is sat beautifully, looking this way, voice off. Fantastic listening, Johnny. You can have a point, who else is following Johnny's beautiful example?" make Johnny feel like literally the best thing since sliced bread and the majority of the others will want a piece of that too.
    pepper5 likes this.

    MCJAJAI New commenter

    Hi ladylyra,

    I have learned that I have to be REALLY specific and tell them to "line up without talking" rather than "line up quietly" because that means if they do talk then I can stop them in their tracks. It's still taking a bit of work and I'm not sure what the real results are going to be like yet since I've only had them twice so far and I'm not convinced it will last as I said earlier.
    I have been active with positive praise but I still think the main issue is when I am doing PE lessons. There are too many of them and they wind each other up, don't listen and can't even sit still on the ground when I am giving instructions. They spin on their bottoms and I give them warnings and get them to sit out because they did not follow my instructions.
    My issue is also I don't think SMT would be happy with me keeping children from missing their PE all the time because they can't listen and follow instructions or keeping them in at break/lunch. How do you get around that? I think the children still need to have a consequence to understand that their behaviour is wrong.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    No, the students shouldn't miss PE, but if they have to make up their time at break for the time they have wasted, that. Is reasonable. Perhaps your SMT could give you a list of sanctions they approve of.

    Could the school spare a T A for you just for PE? You are still in charge of the class and their behaviour but sometimes an extra adult present would give you backup and the kids would behave better.

    Could you observe someone else taking them for PE to get some ideas on what to do?

    MCJAJAI New commenter

    Hi pepper5,

    Apologies for the late response. I will take your advice on board and might have a word with SMT to see what sanctions are suitable and hopefully that helps.

    They are aware that this is a tricky class but at the same time I feel like they are not truly doing anything to help other than acknowledging it or stepping in and saying a comment to the class if they happen to be passing by.

    And unfortunately we are short of/tight on staff members so it would be unfeasible to have another TA or adult present. They are put to use dealing with more "severe" students I'm afraid. :(

    I have definitely noticed that the class behave the worst during PE and towards the afternoons. Still not sure how to tackle whole class not listening and being noisy. I am still working on dealing with individuals but the consistency seems to be working a little bit during the mornings.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. ladylyra

    ladylyra New commenter

    Afternoons are always harder in my experience, especially towards the end of the week. Do you have a routine to settle down after lunch? I used to use GoNoodle's mindfulness activities or classical music and reading/handwriting just to make it clear that play time is over and now we're in class and it's work time.

    I'm afraid I'm not much help with PE - I've hardly taught it and when I have, I've taken the advice of our TA who is a gymnastics coach that if they can't follow instructions, they won't be safe and therefore shouldn't join in. Proved beautifully in my first ever pe lesson where two boys ignored my instructions and bashed heads while running when they shouldn't have!
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Perhaps as you build relationships with the students in the class things will improve. It is encoursging ,however, to note you have seen some improvements in the mornings. Build on that and give the class praise for that. Have you had much time to get to know them as individuals as I know you said you see them once a week or so. Perhaps try getting to know them as individuals may help.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I agree ladylyra with the gymnastic coach - in PE they have to absolutely be ablento follow instructions for health and safety reasons.

    MCJAJAI New commenter

    In terms of "routine" the children just know what curricular area/activity they will be moving on to next as I tell them at the start of the day/before the lesson. It's a struggle trying to fit in what I need to on my one and only day! I have heard of GoNoodle and used it briefly before but I'm afraid of how the class will react to it because when I have tried using songs in lessons, they already get jittery and excited and talking to each other instead of listening to the song. It's the same with watching videos as there are certain pupils who can't help but shout out and I've already explained what I expect from them before watching the video (listening ears, quiet mouths). I've tried telling them to follow those instructions or I won't play the video/wait until they are quiet/start and stop the video because of interruptions. I almost think it's pointless every time I want to try using a video as a "fun" thing. :( I am curious to see how classical music would work as it's supposed to be calming but I can also imagine some of the children saying it's distraction/weird etc.

    In regards to PE, I am still stumped so might try doing secret student to hold everybody accountable, otherwise I think I will just get those individuals to sit out of the full lesson. It is definitely not fair they are being disruptive and spoiling it for the nice ones. Trouble is, they will carry on when sitting out of the lesson no doubt...

    I have gotten to know the class well now but I'm not really sure how to use that to my advantage. I have an idea of their likes/dislikes and know it's good to incorporate that into lessons but it's tricky to make the links as not always appropriate.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. ladylyra

    ladylyra New commenter

    Yeah, having the daily timetable up is good but I mean specifically an after lunch routine. A lot of people, especially young children, struggle to get that switch from playing to working. Imagine going on a roller-coaster and then trying to sit down in a room with all your friends to write an essay and I imagine you'd find it pretty difficult too! So give them a simple but education related task, like reading or handwriting, that doesn't require tonnes of energy or focus but gets them back in that work mood.

    The mindfulness ones are less music and more activities, videos/images to focus on and instructions to follow. I told my class that they didn't have to do it, but they shouldn't distract those that did. No consequences for children not joining in but definite consequences for those distracting others. Make sure you and any other adult in the room join in too, to model what you expect - you'll be surprised how many will start copying you!

    As for finding classical music weird, I they'll get over it quickly. I'm working with a range of 12-17 year olds and started using classical music while they're writing the other week. The first day, they complained. The next, they settled down. The third, they asked for it.
    It's also a good way to set volume. I like asking random children 'x, can you hear the music?' and when they say no pointedly replying 'me neither.' That's more for when those expectations are there though.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, having a routine that they follow at the beginning of the first lesson after lunch is an excellent idea. Just something they do for 5-10 minutes to get settled. Perhaps they could have a writing journal where they are allowed to write poems, stories or practice their handwriting, or some literacy element.

    It wouldn't hurt to try the classical music.

    As for building relationships and getting to know the class, it is perhaps not so much about likes/dislikes and incorporating that into lessons, but rather just asking the students about their day or about their pets etc. It is difficult since you only see them once a week.

    Regarding PE, if they misbehave don't let them participate and then give them the school's sanctions. If they still misbehave when sitting out that is their choice and you have done what is required since you are protecting them and the rest of the class in terms of health and safety.

    You are clearly a kind and competent teacher and have put a lot of thought and effort into getting this class settled and teaching them. I do believe you will see some results.
  12. nicholeknight

    nicholeknight New commenter

    Hi, I might be a bit late, but decided to contribute to your post. One of the problem could be trust and authority. The students may think that you are there just temporary thus they don't need to respect your authority as they won't see you for the rest of the week, so whatever you do it won't impact significantly on them. It would also be good if you could have a conversation with the class teacher as the way she relate to them about you can make a difference. I think you should spend a few minutes one day to patiently stamp your authority without shouting (just literally stop teaching and sort out behaviour). Think about 4 strategies that you could use to get them to respond better. All of them his not disrespectful, it would be a few, so concentrate on the worst behaving students, put consequences in place and most of all speak to each one parent if possible at the end of the day about their behaviour (most of the time students don't want parents to do how madly they behave).
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. Northern_Miss

    Northern_Miss New commenter

    In PE, wait until they are ALL listening, still and sat appropriately to give instructions. Sit there looking at your watch, sighing... Works like a treat. "I'm still waiting for two more people to sit like a star..." If quite a few students are not following your instructions mid-activity, stop the activity in a 'freeze' (blow a whistle etc) and have a 1 minute time out. You can also set expectations for how much talking occurs...

    To avoid 'break/lunch' issues, try to use in class sanctions and rewards. You can make specific students wait longer to start art/computing, following a warning. You can also make them practise something they don't enjoy, like handwriting. Move a student from their table to the carpet, for a time out (set a timer). Move their seating - maybe they have to sit by you for the morning, or on a table by themselves. If you have persistent issues with particular students, organise some parent meetings... Also, ramp up the positive praise for other kids. Send brilliant work to the headteacher (let the kids show it off themselves), or print it to go home. Give out points, but the names of fantastic kids on the board. Give out stickers etc. Last thing, sometimes the threat is effective enough, "it would be a shame if you missed 5 minutes of break time, because you were talking on the carpet!"

    At the moment it sounds like your behaviour management strategies are making teaching harder... You need to learn to minimise interruptions, by using short scripts and lots of non-verbal gestures e.g. if someone raises an issue on the carpet aka "he touched my shoulder when he sat down!", ask them "big problem, or small problem?" Often, they'll feel embarrassed that it's a small one and stop whining... To get people to stop talking / calling out, you could pinch your thumb and forefinger together to mimic a decrease in volume to 0 - (giving them a bored look) and then, when they stop speaking, you can resume speaking, as if the interruption never happened. Also, prioritise useful instructions for the kids mid-activity - if all they ever hear from you is "lower your voices!" they'll learn to tune you out pretty quickly, instead make this the last thing you say (tag it on the end of more useful information).
  14. fly

    fly New commenter

    I say..”if your lips are moving, stop them moving.” It works for me! (Every little helps!)
    pepper5 likes this.

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