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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Help! I can't figure this one out...

Help! I can't figure this one out...

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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Maybe I am not able "to see the forest for the trees" or something like that. But I have a problem with a student, I guess we all have at some point. Anyway here is my predicament...not a really challenging one, I just have run out of patience and creative ideas. I have a student who, 85% of the time, is a very helpful, positive, thoughtful, motivated 5th grade student. The other 15% of the time he antagonizes classmates, and often times (without recognizing it) he antagonizes me during lessons. For example the student will question me repeatedly, (ex. "Don't you spell bacteria B-A-C-K-T-E-R-I-A? " "No, it is spelled like it is on the board.") he criticizes his peers' work and/or opinions, he challenges me repeatedly, he pouts when he doesn't get his way. Another example "Class we will collect mushrooms on Riprap Trail Monday, Tuesday we will examine them under a microscope and magnifying glass." interrupts to say "There are more mushrooms on another trail, the one I know is better." These actions really takes away from the flow of lessons, group work, and class morale. I know I am partly to blame because I am letting it distract me. I know I shouldn't take him seriously, but I have ignored him for a while, and it has gotten worse. He does it in other classes and to his friends. Thus they tend to alienate him on his "challenging" days, and his attitude worsens. I know at home he challenges his parents constantly, though they do not mind, that is their parenting style. He is treated as an equal to his parents, therefore he seems to feel like an adult most times. I don't want to be impatient with him, or take up anymore class time with these interruptions. What should I do? I tell him no interruptions before and during class, then he gets fidgety if I don not call on him, and he goes off subject when I do call on him.

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Kathy lindstrom's picture
Kathy lindstrom
High School Language Arts /AP teachers

Suggestions only. I will not begin to say I know what it is like to teach 5th grade students--their energy, hormones, development are different than high school students--but I'll put for some ideas for thought. I have found that applying all the social-emotional strategies and brain research information to classroom management helps immensely. I've also found that applying Dog Whisperer strategies also helps immensely (and they, essentially, are brain research and SEL put together--especially in lieu of your comment of about the parenting style. First, I'd suggest giving the student a task every day--make him feel important, giving him focus and something else to concentrate on other than asking you questions. Flaws with this, of course, are they he will just ask more questions about his new duties. Second, find some time before or after class to find out what else is happening in his life that might be the root of these inappropriate interruptions. Flaw with this is finding the time and the risk of what more you might find out, or making the student then feel like he can talk to you anytime, Third, be more calm and assertive during class and simply correct his interruptions--CALMLY YET ASSERTIVELY--when they happen. Flaws with this: staying calm and assertive and not feeling like you are shutting the child down, but the truth is, you won't be.

Okay, these are just ideas, not even suggestions. What I've learned after 20+ years of teaching, is that...truly, every case is handle as an individual case and the teacher, in the moment, at that time, knows what will work best, AND the teacher just needs to remember to BREATHE.

Best to you.

Donna's picture

I am having some problems with the classes I have first period in the morning. I will admit that this is not my best time, and that it is not my students' best time either. The semester started on a positive note (we do block scheduling and semester courses). I also have to spend time working through a scripted curriculum that was not written for semester courses, and am trying to keep it student-centered. The problem is that the students have a problem staying on task, and this has increased with the improved weather conditions and approach of the end of the year. I am retiring at the end of the year, but I don't want to short-change my first class, and I feel like I am losing them.
HELP!!!

Tami's picture

If you teach the same subject to a later period, would it be possible for you to do another activity for your first class and then teach the later period the new lesson. The next day first period would learn what you taught your other class the day before. This way, you will have already taught the lesson and will have a better idea of how to adjust it for your first class.

David Ginsburg's picture
David Ginsburg
Instructional Coach, Leadership Coach, Math Specialist

Liz, et al: Too late to support you with this past year's challenging students, but there are always next year's, right? So check out my blog post Attention Deficit: The Other Kind for several strategies that have worked for me and many teachers I've coached.

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