Question Detail

I have been teaching for 14 years. I have never been a good disciplinarian, but this year the students will not listen to me. Nothing I try seems to work. The kids are not bad, but they are kids. I don't know what to do.

Oct 21, 2015 1:27pm

  • Behavior


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    • Oct 25, 2015 12:25pm

      first you need to understand that focusing on positive behavior really does work!! Take a small part of your white board and start putting up the names of kids who are doing a good job. Start with the ringleaders first. When they come in in the morning, greet them by name and a short comment "how are you today?" Isn't it beautiful weather today? I am happy to see you. Welcome back etc. For Tardy students do not use sarcasm or negative greetings or a sarcastic tone of voice. Say oh "student name" I am so glad you made it. We are doing a special project today that I know u will love.
      Make your curriculumn as engaging as possible. Use teachable moments. don't be afraid of them...they smell fear and nerves!!

      make up small cards that are good notes home:
      Johnny did a great job, participating in class today.
      send positive emails or phone calls to parents. document all interactions with parents....negative and positive. always praise the parents!!! Thank you for supporting johnny in his learning. As a team I know we can help Johnny learn. give families specific tasks to do with their kids, provide materials if necessary. model how to explain things to their kids, especially that new math!! (it is always new math to many parents) remember many kids misbehave to get attention or because the work is too difficult or not engaging. Talk to your kids not at them. Always tell them what a great class they are. find a primary class you can buddy up with for buddy reading or writing or even doing art together. Post their work......if they are interested or have a special talent in drawing let them illustrate parts of the story.....or history lessons!!
      I used to teach ontermediate and those kids still come back to see me. make kids feel valued and wanted.....Best of luck......remember they are just kids no matter how big they get!! If I lived in your town I would try and come help you!! this is my "area." Best wishes...feel free to email me at

      • Oct 21, 2015 3:09pm

        I hear yah! It's even tougher when those students know you too well especially in a small learning community. Have you tried starting "over" per se? Like remind them of your rules and expectations?

        • Oct 22, 2015 2:56pm

          Yep, I would definitely have that "talk" with them and continue to do what you've been doing but up the ante a little. This time have both good and bad consequences ready. A few bad consequence might be asking the problem child's parent to visit part of the time or the whole time. This is tricky so you don't wanna resort to this too often. Keep documenting the problem kid and if you hafta stop your instruction to do it then by all means do so. And then they'll begin asking you what you're up to but do not respond. Some positive consequences award students with bite-size snacks if they see a mistake you did on purpose or not. You are awarding them for paying attention. Do not lose your temper, just follow through with the consequence. Say what you mean and mean what you say and try not to smile so you're sending that message.

          • Oct 22, 2015 3:11pm

            Eventually you want them earning the positive consequence. You're trying to move away from negative to positive so that the flow of your instruction and assessment remains uninterrupted. Do you have a buddy teacher in the same hall as your classroom? If you do, may be you can work out a way to send some problem child over to this other teacher just in case you can't take anymore of the lip service. I used to send my problem child to a younger grade student class and it embarrassed the kid. This does not work in high school though.

            • Oct 23, 2015 8:14am

              Do the students have planners? One thing that we do with some of students that have either academic or behavioral issues is provide daily feedback to the parents via their planners. I have found that its a great way to maintain an open line of communication with their guardians and that double teaming the problem is generally much more productive than flying solo.

              • Oct 22, 2015 12:11pm

                I'm wondering what have you tried? What's the age group you deal with? Have you involved other adults like their parents?

                • Oct 22, 2015 2:42pm

                  5th and 6th
                  I have called parents. Many of them know me from the previous year or previous children. I have tried using a progression of steps, (Name on the board, punish work, call home, and then behavior folder) leading to a school wide behavior folder the school uses. I have also tried Classroom Dojo to contact parents and to let the students see what they are doing. I guess the biggest problem I see is that many of the students only behave this way in my class. Some misbehave in every class, but I hear from students and teachers that most of them only do that in my class.

                  • Oct 27, 2015 6:05am

                    I know that this is besides the point but what Susan said about noticing the good in students is quite effective. I am not saying that some teacher should ignore the wrong in the classroom but focusing on what went well, or what things the students did right, and by whom, will certainly help bring our stress down.

                    • Oct 22, 2015 9:54am

                      Thank you. I think that would be a good idea.

                      • Jan 2, 2016 8:36am

                        Hi John,
                        I believe that there are a few things that you can do to improve the situation. It seem simple but be sure that your students understand your communication and that you are communication at there level.Next make sure that your communication is action oriented and meaningful to them. You will also need to understand the learning styles of your students. If you have a batch of visual learners and constantly give them verbal instructions they are unlikely to listen to you because you are not connecting with them. Consider your students inability to listen to you both as a challenge to your interaction approach with them and that they are sending you a message. Find out what is the message and identify an appropriate solution to address it and they will listen.

                        • Feb 5, 2016 10:34am

                          I totally get how hard it can be. I just wanted to share with you what I do. My rules are in color with a coordinating picture I just took off of clip art - so when I want something I just say the color of the expectation I want. I feel that they hear only a one word direction that has a lot of meaning behind it, and no nagging Charlie Brown teacher. Let me descirbe my expectations of my students: In their seat tall and straight with feet flat (yellow); hands free (of anything) (blue); eyes on the speaker (black); lean into your work (and work) (orange); and quiet (green). Two other directions/expectations that I have that are short and clear cut are: I have shown my students how to show me their work space. I will say "clear your work space" and they know to keep things neat for their assignment - but only in regards to their work space, which is a forearm length in front of them. I will also say "Check" and they have to check their bodies, mind, attitude or whatever else they are doing to get back on task. This is also a metacognitive skill in practice
                          I have a reward system for each child and the only thing I ask for them to have me sign it is to not receive too many reminders. No reminders 3 sigs for the hour; 3-4 reminders only 2 signatures; 5+ only 1 sig; 6+ none. Really that part can be relative, but I just gave a quick rundown on how it could work; keep in mind, we have to individualize this but it actually works pretty well. After being reminded that they are getting reminded (hah!) they stop the negative behavior or slow it down enought to get back on track (well that's the idea). If a student has too many "reminders" and just refuses to be a citizen of the classroom for most of the day then RTI may need to get involved. Also, you might want to have another staff member in your school do Check In / Check Out for those types of behaviors. Your reward sheets can be evidence for your school's RTI team.
                          Last, find out what your class likes and set that up as a reward. One reward they love is to play a 1-1 game of basketball with me. Sometimes I get creamed and they love that. And, it sets up a pretty good conversation for a later time that builds a good teacher-student relationship.
                          And, I should just share this to be completely honest about how this works so well for me - I do a lot of my reward times during my and their lunch time. I do not do it during class time and we DO NOT talk about rewards during class time. With 30 kids each asking about their own chart is just another huge distraction - so don't do it. I keep my posted and they can view it QUICKLY.
                          Teachers really work so hard and so many people just don't get it.
                          Okay -- sorry so long - you know how we teachers get!