Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Is this you? My students do not respect me and I do not know what to do!

      Most districts go back next week and there are some teachers that can hardly wait and there are some that are waking up in a cold sweat dreading going back for the second half of the year. I have been watching classroom management videos from Rick Smith from Effective Classroom Management. In a post written by a terrified teacher who does not feel respected the night sweats have most likely already begun. As we know, if you do not have respect, you have little learning going on and a lot of chaos. Still, she is doing the right thing getting help.

From the WeAreTeachers Staff   Teacher Janelle writes:
“We’re almost halfway through the school year, and my classroom management is out of control. My students do not respect me at all, and it’s not just one or two of them--it’s become the culture of our classroom. The students just do not listen to me. I want to turn things around, but I’m worried it’s too late in the year. What can I do?” (My words are in red).

     From the We are Teachers Staff From Janelle, we totally get it, and we’re here to say that it’s NEVER too late to get back the respect of your students. Here is some advice from our helpliners on how to start fresh.
Make achievement a group effort! Give "points" to each class for certain things that everyone does well (like following directions or everyone turning in the assignment), and then when the class accumulates a certain number of points, everyone gets a reward, like a homework pass. - Brenda M. I like Brenda's idea. I have been using Class Dojo and have customized behaviors for both the positive and negative behaviors. Kids really pay attention when you add or subtract points. I do have a token economy and students can buy snacks and driinks and homework passes. This has worked and the principal has bought snacks twice.  Read on. 
     I teach fifth grade and use Class Dojo. I keep a total of their points for the month. Then they get a copy of the "menu" to fill out, choosing how they will spend their points for the month. Only 14 points can be carried over for the next month. The choices range from 15 points to 80. It works well with little effort on my part! - Kate F.
     Talking to peers is something that is encouraged. While you can always go to one teachers class and the kids are eating out of the teachers hand, trying the same in your class may find students still walking over you. According to Rick Smith, it is all about being consistent and having consequences that you follow through with.

     This is from another teacher. Talk to other teachers about the classroom management strategies they use that work. A lot of it is setting an expectation and following it, and you can do that at any point during the year. It’s just a matter of sticking to it and being consistent. I use a point system and give bonus points for on-task students. - Heather S.  
This is a very prudent strategy. Do not embarrass students in front of peers. Having a system where they can speak to you in private while you keep teaching keeps your class focused on content rather than the battle happening where they are rivoted to it instead of learning. 
       Don't be afraid of calling parents; they can be your biggest advocate. If you do call a parent for negative behavior, also make sure you call that parent when the child has a good day as well. That will also help get the parents on your side. - Jodi W.  Jodi is right. Many people will say that giving students discipline choices gives them options instead of backs them into the corner. Once a student knows you are following through, you have credibility. If they cannot or will not serve the consequence such as a lunch detention, let the student know they will get a phone call home or a referral to the administrator. Also, call home and ask for the student when they deserve praise. Let it be a short and to the point conversation. According to Smith, the parents will naturally want to know and may call you back. Invite the parents to come in or let them know you have an open door policy.  We document our classroom issues on a computer program where we file both referrals and classroom issues. Let the student know you are trying to do the kindest thing to get their attention and ask them if they want to change. Their answers tell you what you need to know.

If students are being loud, my instinct used to be to raise my voice to try to be louder than them. Now, I’ve started doing the opposite--I’ll speak more quietly. This tends to intrigue them, and they’ll start hushing each other so they can hear what I have to say. Try it!-Erin F. Rick Smith mentioned above mentions that against all impulses to soften your voice, face the student, mention the behavior and tilt your posture slightly toward the student. The student will know you will use the consequences.
“Fake it ‘til you make it.” Even if you don’t feel like you are in control, act as though you are--cool, calm, collected. The next time you walk into the classroom, convey through your directions, expectations, and the way you carry yourself that anything less than respectful behavior will not be tolerated. Then have a plan for how to enforce those expectations. Avoid getting emotional or angry. - Greg T.

Teachers, what other advice do you have for those struggling with classroom management?

One resource is Rick Smith who wrote Effective Classroom Management. He gives plenty of tips and is a teacher trainer in this area. You can find his books on Amazon.