Question Detail

I am taking over a 5th grade classroom whose teacher just up and quit at the end of the 4th week of school. Not only did he have no structure or routines in place, he was also about 2 weeks behind in curriculum. There are several behavioral issues in the class as well. I realize that I am walking into a potential hornet's nest, but there's so much to be done all at once and I have no idea where to start. It's like day 1 all over again, but these kids are used to doing whatever they want. I've taught 5th for 2 years and was teaching 4th before I was uprooted and bumped up again. Help!

Sep 21, 2014 12:21pm

  • English Language Arts / Math / Science / Social Studies / Other
  • 5
  • Behavior / Class Culture


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    • Sep 21, 2014 3:36pm

      Patience. Know that the students can still catch up. Don't give up on them.

      • Oct 11, 2014 7:57am

        You are in a challenging situation but challenges also present opportunities. First, let the students know that you are not leaving, you are committed to them. Second, each morning and each afternoon, before they leave, give one or two specific examples of individual student successes or group successes to reinforce their confidence and build trust.Three, don't worry about being two weeks behind with the curriculum, the students will never care about the curriculum if they feel you don't care about them. However, as you build relationships and get to know the curriculum decide on two or three big ideas and two or three key question to pursue each day with the various topics. Any finally, take it one day at a time as you serve students as a teacher engaged in the world's most important profession. Good Luck!

        • Oct 7, 2014 8:12pm

          To get all the students on the same page (meaning on"your page"), particularly any behavioral problems, you can try this. It a simple 15 minute, once per week strategy. In your particular situation, you might find the the home page, benefits page and the FAQ's particularly relevant: www.OnGiantsShoulders.ORG

          • Oct 11, 2014 8:20am

            Thank you for asking this question. I am in the same situation, albeit on the high school level. A lot of the advice provided here is helpful. I found that many of my students are acting out because they have trust issues with me, as a new teacher. It's a lot of change in a short period of time. Remember that as you move forward, and understand that the "hornet's nest" is not about you as a teacher or as a person; it's the situation.

            • Oct 11, 2014 11:59am

              Dear Giselle,

              You are in a tough situation and it will take time to crate the classroom environment you want. Hear are my thoughts:

              1. Develop a relationship with each student. Talk with each one and learn about their interests, likes and dislikes. They need to know that you care about and are interested in them.
              Call each parent and let them know who you are. This will create a partnership with the parents and the students will also know you have spoken to their family which may help with the discipline issues.
              2. Set-up your routines making sure you explain what each routine is for and how it will benefit your students.
              3. Remember to personally compliment each student when deserving and possible. I know children love rewards but personal recognition tops material rewards every time.
              4. Create and implement your behavior plan. Make sure to explain it to your students several times and in different ways with examples. And, make sure you follow your behavior plan. You may want to send home your syllabus which would also include a letter of introduction, your grading policy, discipline process, etc and have both parent and student sign.
              5. If you haven't already done this, assess your students to see where they are and, then, develop you lesson plans. I know you are stressed about "catching up" but focus on the basics first.
              6. Be consistent. I find children thrive in and want structure.
              7. Breathe, Breathe, will take 2 to 3 months to see and experience the fruits of your labor.

              I wish you success and a great school year!

              Norma Harris

              • Oct 14, 2014 8:12pm

                Get the students to take ownership by guiding them towards creating the classroom rules with them. Don't sweat the small stuff. Establish teams that are heterogeneous and have them come up with a logo and give member responsibilities. Divide and conquer.