Question Detail

Behavior Management issues in urban school

Jan 19, 2013 2:06pm

Hi everyone! I am a brand new teacher in my first year of a teacher-training program called Urban Teacher Center in Baltimore. I work in a low-income area school in the city. I have been having major problems with managing my 34 fourth-grade students. I grew up in a suburban area in Pittsburgh and had never experienced this type of school environment before. The students are aggressive and show no respect for authority. I am disheartened and exhausted from the constant yelling I need to do to match their volume and get their attention. I have a sunny disposition and personality. I can't stand having to get angry all the time. I want to create a positive classroom environment. I am currently a student-teacher, so it is not technically "my" classroom. I came to the school in November, so I am sure that once I have my own classroom I will have more influence on setting expectations and consequences from day-one. Does anyone have any advice on how I can reach my students without having to yell all the time?

  • English Language Arts / Math
  • 3-5
  • Behavior / Class Culture / New Teachers


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    • Jan 27, 2013 11:17am

      I agree with a lot of the advice that you've been given. however, I would also encourage you to consider what impact your own upbringing and biases could have on your classroom. Why did you need to include information about your students' economic background? Why did you need to let the network know that your students are from an urban area? The language is coded and loaded. It has deficits. The language you used to describe yourself and your background suggests something too. What?

      Management of the classroom is needed in most areas regardless of class or location. What messages (implicitly and explicitly) are you giving your students about their value and worth?

      I am not accusing you of anything. I just think you should take a meta cognitive approach to this situation too.

      • Jan 21, 2013 3:52pm

        ...and one more: make sure that you are walking around the classroom as your presence and visibility goes a very long way. You might not catch everything that the students get into, but if they figure you're Sherlock on the case, they just might think twice. Oh and make sure you are taking care of yourself and getting plenty of rest. Students know when you are not 100% ready for their antics.

        • Jan 21, 2013 3:47pm

          PS: Admins control the climate of a school, but you control the weather inside your classroom. Sometimes, admins will not support you, but if things get too, too rocky, try to establish a relationship with another teacher so that student can visit their class for "time out". Use this sparingly, however, because some students will try to use that option all the time...

          • Jan 25, 2013 1:04pm

            I too teach at a Title One school in a small urban community. These students are all great, however, they have not been exposed to structure and procedure. Their personal lives are often unpredictable. We can help them learn that life is best experienced when we all have goals and expectations. You must set in your classroom a culture of organization and structure. Over time they know exactly what they must do in your class and what learning expectations you have. Try not to yell (I know that is really hard) but the more you unravel the more chaos there will be. I have taught for about 7 years and I am a retired 60 year old business woman and this job as been the most challenging of all the jobs I have had. However, it has also been the most rewarding. Stay true to your calling and over time you will become the teacher you know you can be. Blessings.

            • Jul 20, 2013 8:30am

              I agree with both Rob and Victoria. However, Rob offered little in the way of advice or guidance, and there is a vast difference between urban and suburban or rural school environments. If one is new to such an environment, one may NOT realize and be prepared for such differences simply because such a person may have had no experience in dealing with the sorts of behaviors one is likely to encounter in an urban environment. This was my experience, and I have learned and am STILL learning from it!

              I reiterate what Victoria said, "These students are all great, however, they have not been exposed to structure and procedure. Their personal lives are often unpredictable." This is the truth in my environment with many students living with relatives, or other care-givers because parents may be unavailable because of incarceration, living out of state, or living abroad,( foster care, etc.)
              Some may have had little to no socialization except through the interactions of peers who are very much like them.

              My own mentor gave me good advice as was suggested here by others. I will add that I also have the kids line up in the hallway BEFORE entering class to help them settle down. If they still are noisy and uncooperative, march them back out, have them line up again, then ask them if they are ready to learn. Stating your expectations for classroom behavior and practicing procedures CONSISTENTLY is key in getting what you want because students will KNOW what is expected of them. Don't be afraid to stand your ground and NEVER raise your voice which is a signal that you've lost control. Practice waiting in silence to get everyone's attention.

              Best of luck in the coming school year! ☺

              • Jan 20, 2013 4:52pm

                As a teacher sometimes you will meet, type of students from different culture background in urban areas.Involve students in school and class adminstration.The school should organise parents and teachers meeting to share ideals to solve the problems in your school. Sometimes the tone of the school can develop such problems. Again bad adminstration can develop the problems you are facing.

                • Jan 26, 2013 10:28am

                  An attention signal goes a long way. Best advise I have ever gotten. I am a co-teacher and see several different attention signals work everyday. Some teachers use "Class Class" and the students respond "Yes Yes" imitating the teachers voice. After the response they are expected to get quiet and at attention within a few seconds. I have also seen "Hey class" / "Hey what" and just simply raising your hand and waiting until the entire class has their hand raised and eyes on you. This will save you a lot of yelling to get attention. I teach in a high school in a very low SES community and these work. Again you will have to teach them and practice, but it is worth it.

                  • Jun 8, 2013 8:14am

                    About the yelling thing - what worked for me is when I realized that I have much to offer and I should not be taken for granted. I stop talking at them and started talking to them in a demeanour that is calm but firm. Believe me, I did not want to force my teaching onto them if they are not ready and willing to listen. SO, I waited until they are ready to listen. The quiet got them, the yelling not so much. And then I talked to them about how we should treat each other with respect and how no one should be taken for granted. While I'm being quiet, I start to document things by writing peoples' names on the board who are caught doing or keeping good. And on a separate sheet of paper, I document students who are not following my expectations. Then I make calls home for some good and for some bad. I know that you don't "own" the classroom yet but whatever you do, run it by your CT and solicit advice just like what you're doing. Just keep calm and carry on.

                    • Jan 20, 2013 6:52pm

                      Debra mentioned Teach Like a Champion. She has excellent Advice.


                      • Jan 25, 2013 10:20pm

                        Doug Lemov....amen....teach like a champion....its positive and it works!