You are having a rough time!
A few thoughts for you...and I'm not sure if its anything you can change (I
might have missed this on a previous e-mail).
Do the students have to bring their bags to class? I have had this issue
over the years (the students at my school all have lockers, but many choose
not to use them). Bags are not permitted into the room (my students are
assigned 'art bags' which I made years ago - basically a large denim pencil
case designed to fit the 12 x 9 sketchbook and long handled brushes - which
all have numbers sprayedon them and are signed out like textbooks).
Students are either sent back to their lockers (and then they are late, but
then they get to deal with the office) or they choose to leave their bags in
the hallway. It always surprises me how many choose to leave it in the hall
(especially with the potential for thefts) but the art bags can hold a lot).
Perhaps bags could be lined down the hall?
Also, not sure what type of support you are getting from
administration....have you had them in to see the chaos - sometimes that is
useful (especially to show the girls sitting on the floor, etc.) but can
backfire if your admin is not supportive and blames everything on you. Are
you unionized? Can you speak to your rep concerning the health and safety
concerns related to the size of the room and the number of students begin
stuffed into it? (I ask about unions because I am the union rep at my
school, and where I teach, Ontario Canada.) We had a french teacher last
year who took over for a maternity leave near the end of last year, who was
having similar difficulties with a grade 9 class...she requested the VP to
visit frequently for assistance. She did every day during that class, and
within a few days, the teacher had control gained.
(This might open a can of worms) - do you allow students to listen to
walkmans/mp3 players in class during studio times? I do. However, my
strict rule is that they must be off (as well as off of their heads) during
lectures, or whenever I address the class. Students try this one only once,
because when I see it, I take the walkman/mp3 and deliver it to the office,
where they have to see the VP to get it back. She does not return things
until the following friday....I used to (when I didn't have as good admin
support) just take the batteries from the devise...I did not like taking the
whole thing as I was afraid of it getting stolen while in my
possesion....Anyways, my question is because I found that the students who
created the most amount of noise/problems in my class totally calmed down
when they could enter into their own world and listen to music. I, of
course, use it as a reward....and they can and do loose the privilage. Last
year, my worse ADHD student (who was the worst I had ever seen in my
moderate years teaching - mainly because the parent refused to ensure that
the student was medicating, but that's a whole nother issue!) was never a
problem while he was listening to music - but a terror without!
Last thought - what about starting Monday with a soft spoken "I'm really
disappointed" chat...and then have the students brainstorm on large sheets
of paper in table groups how to solve the problems (which you could list on
the board ie: I can not get the classes attention because people are talking
too loud, there is too much movement around the room, the bags and backpacks
are taking up too much space in this classroom, etc. - maybe choose three or
four that are key)....have the kids come up with class solutions, and then
they come up with consequences? Of course, this is going to take a little
time, and you might end up loosing an entire class, but that might be worth
it. If you get good admin support, perhaps they could be present during the
class, as they can agree to some of the consequences, or make suggestions.
Btw, if you do have good support from admin, make sure you tell them
everything you have tried and done - it says a lot!
Good luck - I hope the class turns the corner for you...
----- Original Message -----
To: "TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group"
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2005 6:59 PM
Subject: [teacherartexchange] Still needing more help...
> So, I'm still having trouble with my middle school kids. I had a talk
> both classes yesterday, a kind of heart to heart. I told them that I
> teach them when they won't listen or pay attention. I told them that I'm
> to start making them suffer the consequences and that if they can't
> I'm going to treat them like kindergarteners and have them put their heads
> 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
> 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
> 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
> got too crazy. The whole class, new students were entering, and I was
> 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
> have WAY too many students in those classes. They are on top of each
> I have like five boys at a table because there are too many boys. They
> so little room that some girls chose to work on the FLOOR because they
> lay their papers out on the table. I have eight or nine kids squeezed
> a table...and the room is just too small. Bookbags are supposed to be
> 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
> 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
> 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
> they can help me. They just have no self-control it seems...and there
> 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
> work, but I can't hear myself think, and I'm yelling so much I'm losing my
> Should I just tell them tomorrow that the class has gotten too large, that
> 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
> 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
> If I do enforce a "no talking" policy, how should I reprimand? Should I
> "LOUD" on the board and erase each letter every time I have to ask for
> 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
> talking and make them sign my log and then continue the school policy from
> copying rules, writing an essay, and finally detention? I feel like I'll
> up giving EVERYONE the behavior form at their desk.
> On another note, I broke in my behavior log today. I had five third
> sign it. My elementary classes will be much easier to handle...they are
> 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?
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