Although you seem to be having trouble with some issues of classroom
management, I am impressed with how much thought you are putting into
how to deal properly with your classes. I feel I am at the same stage
as you with these issues, though I am still a supply teacher and dream
of soon having my own class. I did have a long term occasional position
last fall and there were issues there too. I just want to commend you
and encourage you to hang in there. I like a lot of the strategies you
Best of luck, Naomi
> Subject: Long email with tons of questions
> From: StacieMich@aol.com
> Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2005 13:13:12 EDT
> X-Message-Number: 8
> Just an update. So, I've been teaching now for about six weeks. I've
> going through it all...the highs and the lows, the frustrating parts
> and the
> few rewarding parts. It's been really hard, but I knew it would be.
> I keep
> trying new things. Some things work, some things don't. Some things
> work for
> certain classes and not for others. Some things work one day and then
> for some
> reason don't work the next day. Here's what I've been doing so far:
> I have rearranged my tables so that they are in a "U" formation with
> one in
> the center, like an island. This allows for only four students per
> table and
> six students at the one in the middle. It works a little better
> because I can
> see all of my students, but it is crowded, very crowded. It also
> seems to
> work a little better because there are less students per table, and it
> feels more
> like a typical classroom setup...less freedom. I have assigned table
> captains. The captain is responsible for getting the supplies for the
> table, for
> keeping his or her table quiet and for making the students cleanup.
> It works
> well for the younger students, not as well for the middle schoolers.
> I find that
> most of the middle school students don't want the responsibility.
> I'm still having trouble with too much noise and students getting out
> their seats. They simply can't seem to control themselves. Cleanup
> is a
> nightmare when they use paints. Simply a nightmare. My sixth graders
> like to make a
> mess, paint their hands, and then they can't seem to get the whole,
> "only one
> table at a time will clean their brushes and rinse the cups." They
> all want
> to get up at once no matter what I tell them. Or they don't listen
> and won't
> clean up when I ask, and then only half of the class has cleaned up by
> the time
> the bell rings.
> So, now I only allow half of the students to paint and the other half
> on another project. The next day we flip. It helps a little.
> I know that part of my problem is that I'm not hard enough on them.
> So, I
> handed out two notes home on Friday. The parents need to sign it and
> student owes me a 150 word essay. The next step is detention. These
> two students
> were talking during "silent art." When it gets too loud, and I have
> to warn
> them three times, I ask for silence. They can't handle it AT ALL.
> I'm really not sure what to do. Do I hand out detentions to the whole
> because they are talking during silent art? I did buy a timer this
> and I'm going to see if we can start MOnday's class with five minutes
> silence just to set the tone. I'm really not sure if it will work.
> Any ideas on
> how to keep the noise level down? My mom says I simply should not
> allow any
> talking, but they need to share supplies and ask for help often. I've
> told them
> that they must whisper, but they can't seem to keep it to a whisper.
> As for the cleanup, I need help there too. It's just so hard when
> it's 33
> students. That's why I'm only allowing half of them to paint at a
> time. I
> could use more tips though. I keep their supplies in bins, and I
> inspect the bins
> before they can line up. I explain that their portfolios must be
> neatly on the table, that their supply bin should be organized with
> the lid off
> for me to inspect, and that they must be sitting quietly. After I
> inspect the
> bin, I allow the captain to put up the bin and portfolios, and that
> table can
> line up. It works better, but it's still not perfect.
> I also want to start some sort of incentive program. I've bought two
> one for my elementary classes and one for the middle school classes.
> elementary, I figured I could do it by day, as in whichever class on
> that day has
> the most stars will get a reward the next class. I have the
> elementary kids
> only once a week for the whole year. As for the prize, I'm thinking
> bucks and
> then allowing them to cash them in at the end of the month or every two
> weeks? For the middle school, the tables in each class would compete.
> table in the class had the most stars at the end of the week would get
> the following Monday. I only have them for nine weeks, but I see them
> day. As an incentive to be a good captain, I thought the captains
> could get two
> bucks while the other students at that table would get one. I need
> figuring this all out. How should we keep track of the bucks? Should
> they hold on
> to them? Should I? What if they lose them? I need a system that
> will be
> easy, not a lot of work for me or else it won't work. I won't have
> time. How
> should I decide which tables get stars, which don't? If a student is
> acting up
> at a table, should I stick something on it and explain that the table
> lost it's star for the day? It's difficult because I have a total of
> different classes a week. Also, what should the rewards be? I have
> stickers and
> pencils for the little ones. I have some other things like cute
> notepads and
> calendars for the older ones. As far as candy, I'm a little nervous
> about it.
> What if a student isn't supposed to eat sugar? If it's candy, it
> needs to be
> something they can eat quickly. My mom suggested the mini twizzlers
> that come
> in bulk.
> Some of my students are starting to give me attitude when they get into
> trouble. They get angry and turn on me, and it's actually quite
> hurtful. I had a
> student goof off in the hallway the other day for about 3 minutes
> before he
> entered my class. Then he asked to use the restroom and I told him
> that he had
> wasted three minutes in front of my class and should have gone then.
> He got
> angry and threatened to pee in my garbage can. I was outraged. I
> should have
> given him a detention, but I think I was just so disappointed and
> This student was a problem in the beginning of the year because he was
> goofing off and getting out of his seat. Then all of a sudden he
> working, and I realized that he was my most talented student. For the
> past three
> weeks, I've been beaming with pride whenever I walked by his table and
> saw him
> working hard. I've been bragging to others about his talent and how
> proud I am
> of him. He's never spoken to me in this way, and I was so hurt when
> happened. I know I made a mistake when I yelled at him in front of
> the whole
> class and asked him to come up to me and apologize. I probably should
> have told
> him to sit down, gotten the other students working and then taken him
> to speak privately with him. I should have given him a detention.
> I'm still having so much trouble with the whole classroom management.
> tell me I'm too nice, that I have to be a bitch...yet I feel like I'm
> yelling. I've tried talking to the kids, showing respect, asking for
> ideas, but the truth is that middle school students don't want to be
> with. They really don't respect you more if you try to be diplomatic
> and reason
> with them. I've tried being mean, giving them behavior forms to sign,
> they just get angry or cry. It doesn't really improve the behavior in
> the long
> run. Sometimes I let too many things slide simply because I'm tired,
> want to do the paperwork, or am too busy helping the class.
> I'm also having so much trouble with the helpless behavior of my
> especially the sixth graders. They really cannot work on their own.
> I feel lik
> I give simple explanations, show examples, walk them through it...but
> never seem to "get it" and will ask me over and over what they should
> be doing.
> I'll review the same thing every day for a week, ask students to
> explain it
> back to me to make sure they know what to do...but then I still get
> like 10 or
> more students who haven't paid attention and are completely lost.
> They can't
> seem to figure things out, or it's as if they are too lazy to try.
> They want
> me to do it for them, and I've started telling them that they need to
> it out or ask their captain. Any ideas on this?
> Thanks so much!!!
> So yeah, these are some of the issues I'm still having.