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so…what have you got to lose? You can even tell them. stop doing what you’re doing now and just do something different. It can be difficult to not feel negatively toward someone that makes our work life difficult. you really need to stop and ask yourself why? “Because they won’t sit down and listen!!!!” I know. We just don’t care for their behaviors and their personalities. Again. These may not be anything new for seasoned teachers. and their personalities very much. Keep in mind no one’s perfect – including me and you. but useful to new teachers. or study for tomorrow’s quiz. I teach at the junior high level and all tips will not translate the same way to younger groups of students. Sometimes. “Not this group! That won’t work with my kids!” But what you’re doing now isn’t working that well either…. When you are facing difficult behaviors in your classroom. I love the junior high age group – but it certainly can be challenging. Once you’re in a rut with a class it can be almost impossible to get out! You feel trapped. we do not click with certain students. we really do need to look inward first and ask what we are doing to contribute to the problem. as professionals. If you’ve been struggling with the behaviors of certain students in your room. I know what you’re thinking. I know. their attitudes. However. Anything! If you never take them to the computer lab because they can’t behave – take them. write poetry.I currently teach Grade 7. This builds on the previous suggestion. Are our lessons fun? Engaging? Challenging enough? Too challenging? Do we smile during class? How’s our mood and general attitude toward our students. 1) What are you doing to contribute to the problem? Wow – that’s a bold question! How dare I? But let’s deal with the truth here. So. But attitude is a funny thing and even though you may be totally professional and keep your opinions to yourself. Go outside to read. do a math review. here’s a quick list of suggestions to consider. our negative attitude toward students creates a terrible snowball effect! You may not do it on purpose – you probably don’t even say anything. “I am not happy with how this class has been behaving lately and so I’m going to . it’s possible that students are picking up on the fact that you don’t like them. Have you really reflected on what’s going both right and wrong in your classroom and what changes you could make to positively impact your room? 2) Try something different. But.
I just count back from 5. I know I appreciate mental breaks during PD sessions. You may have to get creative here – this is easier said than done. find it really challenging to stay in their seats and not talk to their friends – as you have probably realized by now. junior high students especially. fun activities into your lessons. We have fun practicing it and then it’s mine to use for the rest of the year! You can start it tomorrow. 3) Incorporate more hands-on activities no matter what you’re teaching. I do the “Backwards 5”. I teach it to students in September. that’s easy. though! Again. you do have to teach it to students first and have them practice it a few times.” Fair enough. They’re social beings. You will also find that giving periodic “mental breaks” where students are encouraged to get up and chat. If my students are out of their seats and I need their attention or I need them back where they belong. However.do my part to switch things up and try to change it. and they probably will be more difficult to get back the first few times until they’re used to it. Knowing that you’ll probably give them time to get up and move during class will make them less likely to do it at inopportune times. 4) I can hear you now: “Okay. But teaching is what you do best – so you’ll teach students to come back quickly when you need them to. of course they’re going to try to do these things on their own terms. especially when I’ve asked them to get out of their seats for some reason. as an example: . To get students “back”. If you never let them move or speak. move around the room or chat with a friend. will keep them on-task even more when you need them to be. we can’t deny that. So. Today. If you can work more hands-on. but how do I get them back? I’m scared that if I encourage them to chat and walk around. So just go with it! Come up with legitimate reasons for them to get up. Let me know how you feel about the changes –or if you have any other ideas. wonderful! I have some in my TpT store that you may want to check out as well. They’ll both appreciate what you’re trying to do and respect you for your honesty. we’re going to the computer lab for a change…” Be honest. they’ll be gone. Then make sure that you use it soon after.
It’s not an “Or else…” type of challenge. His homework wasn’t complete. that’s 5…I need you back in your seats…that’s 4…finish up your conversations…that’s 3…thanks – look at this group…already back… everyone’s attention up front…that’s 2 and 1…we’re back…. but it was attempted and in on time – reward him. However. It’s so easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed by all the students that don’t do what you ask. simple and doesn’t take much work on your part to start right away. and expect that they’ll all find their seats. but she stayed sitting in her seat. time in the computer lab. It’s simply a method of communication.“Okay. “5-4-3-2-1! Sit down!” Just be very controlled. Remember. You’re just letting them know that time’s up so that you can continue on. giving a “time-out” at three. Make a point to remember to look for and reach out to . rewards are only effective if they’re things that the students want. You may want to check it out in my TpT store. rewards and praise are very effective. This suggestion builds on the prior one. Maybe a homework pass is just not going to cut it for people that don’t ever take books home. Small gains count – she didn’t do her work. They’ll stand and look at you when you reach 1 to see what you’re going to do. It’s cheap. You need to make that clear to your students. That’s praise. people. That’s why you do the backward count in a slow. Be creative. to begin to switch things around in a positive way. I have a system of “Class Cash” that I have found really useful in my classes. 5) Rewards and praise. You have to be careful not to do it too much. But when done properly. calm fashion. With junior high kids. find something to reward them for. You can thank her. Thanks everybody. free time to chat with a friend etc. 6) Look for the positive every day. No need to rush them. you can use whatever works for your students. or they’ll be thinking that this is a challenge. so what conclusions did you come to when you were discussing with your groups?” Counting back from 5 is NOT a threat like when you count to three for a child. are all fairly coveted rewards and are very much appreciated by most students. quietly for this after class. With particularly difficult students. time to listen to music.
ask your whole class. Then try to do what they come up with. While we’re on the topic of homework. At least that’s something and it’s better than always fixating on the negative. introduce homework passes. it can be like pulling teeth at this grade level. Make sure that they know you’re doing it because they suggested it. “I could ask to talk to your Mom right now. In addition.those students that do what you ask on a regular basis. For this example. While they’re talking to you on the phone. Talk for unexpected! I’m not talking about calling Mom and Dad here. If you’re not sure how to deal with missing homework and incomplete assignments. or just give them (and yourself) a day off from the expectation of homework. I came across this one tip years ago and I knew it was powerful – I didn’t know how powerful until I needed to use it. If they say “No homework. But I want to talk to you. maybe all you can think of is that he has a great smile.” find a way to give them what they want to some degree. they don’t think that you’re serious about wanting to talk to them and not their parents. Check out my TpT store to have a look at this product. Some days. You’re the only one that can change your behavior – not your Mom. look for the positive in those students that you find the most challenging. This is something you could try this evening! Make sure the conversation is very respectful and calm and that it’s clear to the student that you’re really just trying to help them out. sometimes giving them a call at home to talk about their behavior can be really effective. It is there – trust me. Let them know how much you appreciate their respect and good behavior (quietly and privately is best for this age group). When is comes down to it. (or individuals privately) what would make them happier at school. If you have a student that you just can’t seem to reach.” 8) Following along these lines. there’s usually a deeper reason for why . I do have a homework policy and parent letter that I’ve found to be effective with my students. Perhaps no one’s ever asked them! Give them a few minutes to respond in writing. Kids don’t see it coming! First of all. they are fully aware that you could ask to talk to their parents at any time – but you don’t! You really do just want to talk to them about how they’ve been behaving in class and what they may be able to do differently to make class more enjoyable for everyone. I know some teachers have just stopped assigning it altogether to end the battle. 7) Call them at home. random draws for “No Homework for a Week”. Making positive connections with students every day will give you the energy to keep going and will help your overall perspective and mood. You can even say.
students don’t do homework and you’ll need to find out what that reason is at some point. and of course sometimes what they say will hurt. they won’t respect you. you’ll try this next suggestion: Ask your students to critique your teaching. This is such an easy one. but a very worthwhile exercise. This suggestion works to maintain control of a room – not to get control when it’s chaotic. That’s something easy that you could change and it would make everyone happier – including you! 10) Proximity. Give out a survey. 9) If you’re really brave. It’s not too late in the year to get to know your kids better. If they think that you’re there to teach Math and not to teach them. just continuing to roam will discourage the behaviors that you want stopped. never sitting down at your desk. You need them to think of one thing that you are doing that they like and want you to keep doing (more than one would be fine too!!!) As well. you need to know one thing that you could work on (just one please). you’ll need to ask yourself if there’s any truth to what they’re saying. Circulating. this can be more difficult when students are chatting on both sides of the room. Bottom line. So scary. . If 6 students say that they want you to be less cranky…Maybe that means you’re projecting a “cranky” disposition and you don’t mean to – what a powerful piece of knowledge. Don’t stop teaching. But again. I like to spend the first week of school establishing a community in my classroom. for example. They’ll soon stop without you having to say a word. Of course. Students are judged and marked and graded all the time – why not see what it feels like? Students are usually very honest. and can be under-rated! While you’re teaching just physically put yourself where trouble can arise. You may be surprised at the simple things that they’ll come up with. 11) You need to know your kids. Just walk to where the students are chatting. Tell your students that you want to be the best teacher that you can and you need their help. But back to the topic at hand – ask them what would make things better for them in your room and then do your best to make it happen. I know.
You may say. you’ve won one and your life will be a little bit easier because of it.observe or just take some time to ask them what they’re into. Priceless. Following up on the previous point. See if you can observe them with their students and if they can observe you with yours. knowing your students will give you information that you can use and sometimes exploit! Usually the students that drive us crazy are powerful. Guess what I did? I grabbed my sneakers and headed for the gym. find jobs that they can do while they’re on the move. I’d love to hang out with these kids. Try one of these suggestions or ask colleagues for help. I was surprised one year when I found out by accident that one of my most difficult students liked to play badminton after school. so to speak. Just participating in what they like puts you on a whole different level in their eyes. My best advice is this: If what you’re doing isn’t working – stop. But knowing your students and then using that knowledge to your advantage will most likely give you more time to relax at home with your own family. but I did do something he didn’t expect and it gave us somewhere to start. “Look. It’s hard to relax when you’ve had an awful day. get them to do your photocopying or take attendance in the morning. I do too. They may think it’s weird. Send them to the office with your lunch orders. wouldn’t you say? All I’m saying is that you wouldn’t believe the look on that 12 year old boy’s face when I asked him if he wanted to rally. call on him from time to time to get the class back from an activity – he can even use your Backwards 5. 12) Use your knowledge of your students to your advantage. but they’ll probably enjoy the break from class and just go with it. But I have my own – at home!” That’s true. You’ll be amazed at how someone that is outside of the situation can offer a new perspective. People listen to them. Talk for a change of pace! Enlist these students to use their powers for good. It doesn’t matter what you do. It didn’t solve all of my problems with him. Look a bit deeper into those students for something that can be turned around and used to your advantage. If you can make a positive out of even one behavior of a difficult student. Happy Teaching! . influential and leaders. If they are always out of their seat. And by the way. just do something different. If he can easily get everyone’s attention. especially to new teachers – only the most confident of teachers ask for help…Those that want to do an even better job…Those that care enough to ask.
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