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RE: [teacherartexchange] Still needing more help...

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From: Judi Morgan (judi.morgan_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Aug 18 2005 - 16:58:44 PDT


I'm coming into this conversation late, and I might be repeating
something someone else has said...if so, just disregard, please.

I had some really rowdy middle schoolers last year. There is never just
one answer that will last the year, but a couple that seemed to work for
me were:
        The ole' A-R-T on the board that someone suggested a year ago or
so. I got tired of telling them to be quiet, so I explained that I
would just erase a letter at a time when they got too rowdy- one warning
and then I would just go erase the letters as needed. Once the T was
gone it meant that there was no art. They would have to put their heads
down and not talk. Anyone who could not accomplish that would be asked
to leave the room. I found that it worked even better if I had a
competition between the tables. (An A-R-T sign for each one) The tables
that could self-monitor and keep the most letters on the board for a
week would get a treat.

The students also responded to music. I would agree to let students
bring music to play during class (approved by me), but at a volume that
if they wanted to hear it, they would have to remain pretty quiet. If
their voices got too loud and I couldn't hear the music, it would be
turned off-- or it would be music of my choice (much more mellow).

Lastly...and I know this will probably cause some controversy...but I
allowed my 7th graders to bring their CD players and headphones. Most of
them already had them at school anyway. Many students didn't like the
student music and my goal was for them to "get lost" in their
work--difficult to do at their age and in a crowded class. They
couldn't put them on until all instructions were given and discussion
completed, the volume couldn't be loud enough for their neighbors to
hear, and if I needed to talk with them, they had to take them off
immediately. They were never allowed when we had visiting artists. It
actually worked very well. I wouldn't have done it with 6th graders and
my 8th graders didn't need it.

I was fortunate that I had a table just outside the room that I could
clearly see so that if there were one or two students who were causing
constant disruption, I could seat them out there for the rest of the
class.

Just some of my ideas. Good luck and hang in there.

Judi Morgan
Saint George's School
2929 W. Waikiki Road
Spokane, WA 99208
509.466.1636
judi.morgan@sgs.org

-----Original Message-----
From: StacieMich@aol.com [mailto:StacieMich@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 3:59 PM
To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group
Subject: [teacherartexchange] Still needing more help...

So, I'm still having trouble with my middle school kids. I had a talk
with
both classes yesterday, a kind of heart to heart. I told them that I
cannot
teach them when they won't listen or pay attention. I told them that
I'm going
to start making them suffer the consequences and that if they can't
behave,
I'm going to treat them like kindergarteners and have them put their
heads down.
 They were pretty good for the rest of the class. I felt like I had
gotten
through to them.

Then today:
My sixth graders, who were so wonderful yesterday after I spoke to them,

surprised me by being extra loud today. I told them that I had planned
a surprise
for them after they were so nice yesterday, but that I had decided not
to
give it to them because they were disappointing me. I had a big
accident in that
class as well (someone knocked over my computer), so things were a bit
chaotic as it was. Then my seventh and eighth graders (usually the
rowdy ones) came
in and surprised me by being pretty quiet. I gave them assigned seats
and
told them to look at the board for their directions. They had to write
a
reflection paragraph on their last project. I praised them for their
good behavior,
told them that I was proud of them. Then I explained the project for
the
day. They were still talkative, but I seemed to be able to get their
attention a
little better today. But as soon as I allowed them to get to work, it
just
got too crazy. The whole class, new students were entering, and I was
trying
to find them seats and log them into my gradebook and check schedules.
Students needed help, and I had to keep pushing those who wouldn't work.
My head was
spinning. It was so crazy, that I couldn't even think about how to
single
out people or punish them.

I feel badly because I really don't think it's totally their fault. I
simply
have WAY too many students in those classes. They are on top of each
other,
I have like five boys at a table because there are too many boys. They
have
so little room that some girls chose to work on the FLOOR because they
couldn't
lay their papers out on the table. I have eight or nine kids squeezed
around
a table...and the room is just too small. Bookbags are supposed to be
tucked
under tables, but they are too big, and the kids don't have room for
their
legs...so I have bookbags all over the place...and nowhere else really
to store
them. Kids get up to sharpen their pencils or get supplies, but then
they
dawdle, and I have to get on them...or too many get up at once. The
thing is
that I know they aren't bad kids. They have never talked back to me.
They seem
to care when I tell them I'm disappointed. Some of them apologize or
ask if
they can help me. They just have no self-control it seems...and there
just
isn't enough room to give them the space they need to behave.

So, I'm feeling like I need to completely eliminate talking altogether.
I
hate to do that because I know they like to share ideas and chat while
they
work, but I can't hear myself think, and I'm yelling so much I'm losing
my voice.
Should I just tell them tomorrow that the class has gotten too large,
that I
know it's not their fault but I can't function in a class that
chaotic...so we
have to have a "no talking" policy even when they are working on their
own?
Should I tell them that they have to raise their hands every time they
need to
get up and sharpen a pencil? Ugh.

I just remember classes where we could work on our own, were free to
move
about and work together, and it was so nice. But those classrooms were
bigger.
If I do enforce a "no talking" policy, how should I reprimand? Should I
put
"LOUD" on the board and erase each letter every time I have to ask for
silence
until they have to put everything away and put their heads down? Should
I
make everyone write a report? Or should I simply single out those who
keep
talking and make them sign my log and then continue the school policy
from there:
copying rules, writing an essay, and finally detention? I feel like
I'll end
up giving EVERYONE the behavior form at their desk.

On another note, I broke in my behavior log today. I had five third
graders
sign it. My elementary classes will be much easier to handle...they are
much
smaller classes, and I can send students to my solitary desk and have
them
sign the log. I can't do that with the middle school class because
THERE IS NO
PLACE to send them.

What do you guys think?

Thanks.

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