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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Classroom management for older students

Classroom management for older students

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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So, I work in an inner-urban school. We are at about 98% poverty level. We have close to 800 students in our building from 6th - 8th grade. Any ideas on classroom management. Let me tell you about our student population. About 20% of them are serious behavioral issues. They fight on a regular basis, they run up and down the halls during class, many student leave other classes and bang on doors or poke their heads into classes where they don't belong, they are diagnosed with a variety of conditions that go untreated. We regularly have students that leave the building in handcuffs. They take and sell drugs. I've had a student in rehab this year. This is not your average student population. The other 80% of the students range from very engaged, to just don't care. How do you deal with this type of student population. I don't have a single class out of 5 that doesn't have some serious behavioral issues such as swearing at me and each other, talking constantly and loudly, total lack of respect for authority. What do any of you do who may teach in a similar environment?

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Lora Ma-Fukuda's picture
Lora Ma-Fukuda
mom & former exec producer @edutopia.org

Hi Siq,

Thanks for posting this great question. I'll be featuring it in this week's newsletter, and I hope we get some good advice from teachers in a similar situation. But I also wanted to let you know that our next Schools That Work is focusing on this very subject. It will be published in two weeks so please check back. -- Lora, exec. producer, Edutopia.org

Laron's picture

Lora, did you publish the response to this??? If so, where can I find it?

Jessica's picture
Jessica
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Hi,
I feel there are many ways for better classroom management. Make your students sit in a group of 5. Tell them to exchange notes and work together. Take a not of students who are working and behaving in the right manner. If any student misbehaves in the group, make sure you give them some kind of punishment. Or the best thing would be to have a parents teacher's meet where you can discuss the problems of every student in detail.

Ms. Michelle's picture
Ms. Michelle
Why do you need a summary

Find the students' weaknesses, then take advantage of that and change your teaching styles to a certain type to make certain you can take on the classroom and inspire students to learn at the same time. Make sure you are also respectful and attentive to all students. Make your classroom a room available for communication, for free advice from you on anything they have problems with, and they should also have the opportunity to work together. Group them together yourself, don't let them choose their own groups.

Kosmo's picture
Kosmo
High school teacher, Baltimore City

I totally empathize with you, as I teach in Baltimore City. One strategy that has worked well is to constantly change up. I often have two or three activities as a backup, and always give them a tangible project. Often this is like a worksheet based on a reading but always includes implicit skills rather than explicit ones that force them to think about, relate to and interpret meaning. Art projects have also worked very well.
At the end of the day it's going to come to relationship and whether they trust you and what you are teaching them. Good luck and keep reaching out to them. Remember, its still early in the year.

Taja's picture
Taja
Mild/Moderate Special Education Teacher from Ogden, Utah

In my experience with difficult students I have found most often that they act out because the material is too difficult for them to understand.

I had a fourth grade transfer student who was getting suspended on a regular basis for swearing, fighting, stealing, and refusing to complete work. I chose to focus more on building a relationship with that student for several weeks to see what the function of his behavior was. In talking to him I determined that he was acting out because he would much rather be suspended than have other students think he was stupid. The reading material was much too difficult for this student and he would act out most often during reading.

It is my belief that you must build a relationship with your students first before learning can take place. Throw out academics for a few lessons and do some "getting to know you" activities. Some students may not grab hold right away, but everyone likes to talk about themselves. Let them share who they are in some way and share things with them about yourself too.

I had a difficult time in school and I like to share that with my students. It helps them relate and makes them feel like they are not alone. Best of luck to you.

Lily's picture
Lily
Kindergarten Teacher at a Charter School

This is a great question that so many of us struggle with!

I think that doing some community building activities/projects in your classroom might help get the ball rolling in the right direction. Maybe use a topic on your curriculum map (since you're in middle school maybe a "Bill of Rights" for your class) and tailor it to fit your goals. It sounds like your students aren't respecting you, themselves or each other and I find that this is a good way to get your students thinking about their actions and behavior without being punished. Sometimes I find my most challenging students are helped by me making their struggles and shortcomings seem more abstract so that they don't get too emotional or angry to talk about why they're acting that way. It's about why 'someone' would lash out and not why they are doing that.

A great book that's really helped me is Doug Lemov's "Teach Like a Champion" it's a fairly easy read with many easy to implement strategies for behavior management. Here is a video of a technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC0ltKOwF_A

Hope that this helps you!

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