Stacie -"HANG IN THERE!" And just remember that you are doing the best that
you can. With all of those backpacks, sounds like the fire marshall would
close you down if he came in your classroom. For security reasons, the
students in my school put their backpacks in their lockers when they arrive in the
morning and take them out when they leave. Before the no backpack policy, I
had our "Volunteers in Education" nail to the wall two boards, on which they
screwed coat hooks, as you enter the room. Backpacks were hung there.
Try to insist that you principal set a maximum class size for your studio
classes. Invite administrators to your room to observe your space problem. I
know you hate to complain but sounds like safety of the kids is involved.
Sounds like you need to start calling parents. Once the word gets out that
you are calling parents, many kids will shape up. I have actually had kids
call their own parents from my storage closet phone. They get to tell their
parents why they cannot behave in my class! (Privacy is an issue so do not
have them do this in front of other students.)
Try working with another teacher to provide "time out" in another classroom.
You keep an empty desk in the corner for one of her kids, and she keeps one
for yours. They hate to be taken out of the room.
I try to use a lot of positive reinforcement for good behavior. (Bribery
works!) I have a candy jar of penny candy and pencils. Let one class have a
"good behavior" contest with another class. Design some kind of point system.
If I have a kid that if out of control, sometimes I'll take the kid aside and
offer them candy at the end of class is I can go through the entire bell
without calling them down.
I like "immediate consequences" whenever possible. If a kid misbehaves,
they can pick up all the paper on the floor or scrub out the sink. Or when the
class is dismissed, they must remain seated until everyone is out of the room.
I have a set of Middle School textbooks in my class. They gather dust on
the shelves. But occasionally, when discipline is out of control, we have art
from the textbook. "Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end."
They hate it! If they can't behave, they cannot make art so they'll just
have to read about it.
They have to know that you will follow through with your discipline policy.
Try giving them so much work that they don't have time to talk. Any work
not completed in class can become homework. Be firm and consistent.
Good luck and remember that all of us have traveled the same road.