I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. This school year has been really tough for me. Probably the roughest class I have had in at least 12 years. I’ve basically felt beat up at the end of everyday, and dare I say it, sometimes needed a drink at night. Please tell me I am not the only one.
Sorry for the rant, but I know you will understand!
It all started last June, when last year’s teacher handed me my roster and said “Good luck!!” I looked at the names and realized I had 12 girls and 20 boys. 20 boys and 8 major behavior problems!
I gave myself a pep talk all summer long. “It won’t be bad. I’ll do plenty of hands on lessons, STEM activities, partner work, group work, projects.” I looked forward to going back to school in September, like I always do :). I readied my classroom the week before school started and was excited to go back.
So, finally the first day of school arrives and go to the yard to pick up my new class. I am surrounded by my new students and tons of parents. One of the parents looks at me and sees the names on my roster. She announces, “You have all these kids in your class? My son is definitely not going to behave because you have this kid and this kid, and this kid. He really shouldn’t be in the same class as this kid!”
What????? I haven’t even started the day yet!
Needless to say, it was a bad first day, second day, and month. In my head, I kept repeated, “Routines, routines, routines! Structure, structure, structure! It will get better!” Guess what, it DID NOT get better. Not only did it not get better, but there was NO SUPPORT from administration.
My mornings are usually ok. The afternoons, not so much! After I pick the kids up from lunch, there is nothing but fighting. Whatever happened at lunch, would come back into the classroom. I tried having the kids write down what happened so that the behavior wouldn’t interfere with instruction. I tried having table captains who would try to help out at lunch or tell me about incidents. Everyday, I’m told by the school aides about the food fights, the fist fights, the choking, the talking back and disrespect. Unfortunately, the fighting would come back to the classroom. They would yell and scream at each other and walk past each other and hit or bother each other.
It has been grueling to say the least and I still have 7 days left! I put everything I had into this class. Made my lessons as engaging as possible, set up for groups work and projects but none of it really worked. I was in constant contact with parents, had meetings, back and forth contact through the Remind App, but nothing worked. Instead, I had parents tell me how wrong I was about their child. Their son is misbehaving and hitting people because of the other kids. It’s not his fault! I was told “My son is bored because he doesn’t like school. Maybe you should make your lessons more fun.” What?????? I was told, “My child is reading on level, you are wrong!” I have never in my life had so many disagreeable parents.
My administration only believes in positive reinforcement. My principal is a great person and really loves the children, but does not deal with any problems. It is looked down upon to send kids to her office. As a matter of fact, they might leave with a lollipop if they do go to the principal’s office. I spoke to my admin and asked for advice. I was told, “There really is nothing we can do.” We are not allowed to take away anything from the kids or not include the children from any activities. The kids and the parents rule the school and they know it.
I tried all different strategies to reinforce positive behavior. I made table captains, I gave jobs or responsibilities to the students, I told the parents when the students had a good day or a bad day, I have positive praise for every little thing, I tried working with the guidance counselor. NOTHING Worked.
I went back to my admin for advice. I was told,”Boys will be boys. It doesn’t even pay to call their parents about their behavior. We just have to put up with them until they graduate.”
So, again I was given no support. Here I was killing myself, trying to think of how to reach my kids. My lessons were suffering, my home life was suffering. I was stressed out all of the time.
The only thing that did work, somewhat, was giving reward cards. I started a tally chart for behavior. For every five tallies, the student earned a reward card. Behavior started to get a little better but it really didn’t impact my worst behaved kids. The reward cards did work with the rest of the class thought, and 25 out of my 32 kids were really trying to do the right thing. I even got a lovely letter from a parent thanking me for making a difference in her child’s behavior.
What are some ways you work with your kids who struggle to behave? How does your administration work with you?
Thanks for stopping by,