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students not paying attention

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by purpleflamingo, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. I am having difficulty getting full attention from the class when I need it. It was slipping last term and I see it still slipping. They are often fairly quiet but there is a bit of chat and there is a definite feeling of even if they are quiet, they are not paying attention or thinking through what I am saying.
    I have tried a lot of things and I am tired of talking at them. I teach secondary (fifteen-year-olds) and they KNOW they need to listen. I work in a good, private school with good behaviour and supportive parents. My usual routine is give them a warning, a reflection on their behaviour, then a signed reflection, then an afternoon detention (this is a big deal in our school).
    I am tired of telling them what I am looking for. I want something simple and workable day-to-day as I also feel swamped with work at the moment. I am thinking that reporting students on, or meetings with parents could help, particularly for ones who in consequence of not paying attention, have poor grades. I am also thinking of less whole class teaching time and giving them more work at their desk so that I do not wear out their patience by talking at them frequently. (I am wondering if I tend to talk too much.)
    Advice is much appreciated!
  2. Teachers do tend to talk too much.
    Try a visual display and point to it with your expectations on it,
    and body language speaks volumes in a classroom from teachers.
    I can give the 'that look'.
    Stand strong and straight, hands behind yr back.
    At the beginning of the lesson, I make a point of saying that -
    "I am the most important person in this class, so when I am speaking -
    you are listening"
    Think you just need some support and some confidence!
  3. Thanks Boogirl, I appreciate your ideas. I would really like to improve body language because I think I come across as unsure. I´m not quite sure HOW to improve body language but I´ll keep thinking about it. I can´t use much visual display since I work in a developing country and although it is a good school, we don´t have too many resources, besides the books we use and a whiteboard, which can be useful for brainstorming and writing up key points (and we also have some time in the computer room where I can use powerpoints etc).
    I don´t think I would sound convincing enough saying I am the most important person in the class. Although I think it is a good suggestions, I don´t think I could carry it off.

  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Is there any way you could get yourself videoed? Even a decent mobile phone might get good enough results.
    It's more than a bit embarassing watching yourself but you might well pick up on a few things that give the impression of you being submissive or being aggressive instead of assertive.
  5. How is their performance generally compared to their other peers. Am from a 3rd world country and i also did my teaching practice there and compared to UK, students in these countries are very passive in class. I used to be the same, even though i was very clever, i rarely bothered to answer a question in class. i found the same when i was teaching, some students would produce some very good work on their own but would be very reluctant to share same to the whole class. I think it has alot to do with confidence. this children are never taught from an early age to talk to adults, some come from primary schools where corporal punishment was used, so they =have a general fear for adults.
    the question is how do you break that barrier. i think a) dont expect too much from them interms of participation in class, measure their perfomance based on their individual results.
    b) use loads of praise to those who are participating
    c) pick students at random and ask a question esp those who rarely contribute, encourage them to answer even if they are not sure. also you pass message that they cant hide forever.
    d) maybe compare notes with other teachers i.e how they are dealing with these classes. you will probably realise, as i did, that it has nothing to do with you, thats how they are with other teachers, this will probably put your mind at rest and maybe boost your confidence.
    lastly, i beleive you are doing a fab job, as i have learned its not easy to teach in a foreign country, teaching here in Uk has bn such a challenge for me mainly because of lack of respect for teachers, that every day its a battle to prove who is the adult.

  6. time yourself, and be strict about how long the students have to complete an exercise, etc... they will listen if they know they are about to conduct something and every word you say may give them insight :)

    also, you dont sound like the authoritarian type, and you might be interested ina few techniques i developed over the years which centres around self-discipline, rather than authoritarian discipline... post me if you are interested :)

    be well!
  7. Thank you for all the useful responses.
    I like the idea of videoing but I don´t know who to ask to do me that favour and what to say to the kids who will think it´s all a bit odd, apart from telling them since they don´t put me on Youtube I´ll do it myself! lol
    I suppose they are a bit passive but I think I can still bring them out a bit more...
    It´s funny one of my best students complained yesterday about a new teacher saying she doesn´t like him because he didn´t ask them their names individually and didn´t really talk to them in the first class. (It´s funny too because they all think he´s good-looking and were dying to meet him!) I am wondering if my classes have a strong need to get along well with their teachers and feel known by their teachers... something to think about...
    Thanks happyseeurchin. It is very true that having structured activities with clear timelines helps and I agree I cold look at that more. I do have the difficulty that this is my first year in a new school with a new programme and a subject I am less used to teaching. Therefore at times I don´t calculate well how much time things take or predict accurately the difficulties they might have on a task. That will come with experience, although I am interested in learning how to do that better too.
    I would really like to hear about the techniques you are talking about!

  8. Children, and many adults, appear to believe that you can learn stuff just by watching and / or listening.
    I'm not sure if this is a result of passive watching teev or some underlying thing. But it has to be actively taught out of them. Perhaps if the first or second question on your test was to copy the words (or something) of the 10th line of the reference text (or the sentence beginning with the word Whenever) or some such, they'd at least have to look at the rotten thing.
  9. Yes, I think that´s it, they seem to think that passively learning is effective... Passive learning through listening etc, has its value but if you can go that bit further to being more active, the subject is not only more interesting because you are thinking it through but also you learn more.
    This signals how important active learning is. I would like to learn more about this area since I think students can then find school and learning more interesting. I also hope to learn how to transmit the importance of using support materials and thinking through their work to them.
  10. Hi! I'm very interested too :)
  11. These ideas you have on self -discipline rather than disciplining others- where can we find them.
    Thanks in advance
  12. These ideas you have on self -discipline rather than disciplining others- where can we find them?
    Thanks in advance
  13. This sounds amazing.

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