Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Teaching preteens (or how to keep young narcissists from wrecking your classroom)

I have a question for the teachers here: @Jedoc @Oghulk @timspork's ghost @Zonugal (any others?)

So recently I joined up with a group teaching extra-curricular as an after-school program. These generally are on fun tech topics such as "video game design" or "3d printing" among others. The idea is to expose kids in the 8-12 age range to STEM ideas and concepts in a fun low-key sort of way. Most of the kids want to be there since it's an optional program and parents pay for it outside the public schools, in fact it's often at community centers or religious centers.

So I was surprised when I started my new class this Fall to find out some of the kids didn't want to be there. They were largely disruptive and not the least bit interested in the topic. My first class was a disaster with the few disruptors totally ruining the experience of the other kids in the class who were trying to ignore the shouting, chair flinging, and rough housing. Unfortunately I don't have the option to expel them or ask them to leave the class--their parents paid for them to be there and the class only meets once a week for seven weeks. I'd imagine if I was their regular teacher I could probably develop some kind of daily discipline to keep them under control but since I see them so infrequently I don't have that opportunity.

So what do you guys do to maintain order in your classroom?

Much to my dismay, my daughter recently told me that this is also happening in her 4th grade class. Her teacher is fairly young and it seems like she's been overwhelmed with 4 or 5 troublemakers since school started. My daughter tells me often the entire class is punished for the actions of the few and she's missed out on several fun events at the library because of these problems.

So now I'm just worried, what chance do I have in getting things under control when someone with a degree in teaching can't even do it?

Posts

  • OghulkOghulk biggest externality low-energy economistRegistered User regular
    In this case since it's an after school program that's paid for you might want to have a sit down with the parents. I'd think you'd be given leeway to remove students at your, or the programs head, perogative

    raoADVy.png
    Enctimspork's ghostDisruptedCapitalistZonugalGreat ScottVoroXaquinElvenshaeLilnoobsspool32PeenMunkus Beaver
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Bring it up with your program lead, they should have a system in place for this.

    After all, if the experience is ruined for the majority of students, nobody will pay next time.

    Fiendishrabbittimspork's ghostDisruptedCapitalistZonugalLostNinjaSmrtnikSiskaAngelHedgieElvenshaeZomroCambiataInquisitor77
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    I don't see why you can't send them off for disruption. I see no difference than them sitting in class and not paying attention other than them not disturbing everyone else if they are gone. Let the parents come complain and you explain to them that their kids are acting like assholes.

    whenever I start a new semester I always give them the spiel that I don't take attendance for lectures but then explain that each lecture is worth so many dollars and people who show up do better on everything.

    camo_sig.png
    DisruptedCapitalist
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    Bring it up with your program lead, they should have a system in place for this.

    After all, if the experience is ruined for the majority of students, nobody will pay next time.

    This. The parents of the good kids are also paying customers, and there's more of them

    steam_sig.png
    DisruptedCapitalistZonugalGreat ScottLovelykimeVoroMoridin889SmrtniktynicFiendishrabbitXaquinAngelHedgieElvenshaeCalicadispatch.oZomroCambiataMegaMekAngelinaInquisitor77Kwoaru
  • timspork's ghosttimspork's ghost Master Librarian and Ghostbuster Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    Bring it up with your program lead, they should have a system in place for this.

    After all, if the experience is ruined for the majority of students, nobody will pay next time.

    This. The parents of the good kids are also paying customers, and there's more of them

    Yup. It should be pretty easy to either get them to shape up or removed.


    Hope you have a good turn around with the classes!

    (Switch Friend Code) SW-4910-9735-6014(PSN) timspork (Steam) timspork


    DisruptedCapitalistZonugal
  • m!ttensm!ttens Registered User regular
    I volunteer with 7th graders (so a bit older than your kids) after school in a low-income neighborhood where we also do STEM activities; specifically, we tear down bicycles, talk about math and physics concepts in a very high-level manner, and at the end of the program the bikes get donated to the kids. At the start of the program, I tell the kids that I will respect them and their time but I expect them to reciprocate with me. I think a lot of them find it eye-opening to have an adult treat them as a colleague or peer rather than the adult-child relationships they are more used to. I also try to ask them during down time what sorts of things they like to do in and out of school and attempt to build a rapport that way. A kid excited to talk with his mentor about music, comics, video games or whatever seems to me to be more apt to opening up about issues he's having in math class or physical science when he feels I'm interested in him as person more so than just his marks in school.

    As for kids being disruptive, it's an after-school program and there are not enough adults to 1-on-1 with the kids, so I'll give a kid a few chances to refocus on our activity for the day but if they refuse to do so then I let them know that they are only hurting themselves and I'll direct more of my attention to the kids who want to be there.

    DisruptedCapitalistAiouaElvenshaeCambiata
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    m!ttens wrote: »
    At the start of the program, I tell the kids that I will respect them and their time but I expect them to reciprocate with me. I think a lot of them find it eye-opening to have an adult treat them as a colleague or peer rather than the adult-child relationships they are more used to.

    this is good advice and it usually works

    i'm a teacher at a boys' highschool (grades 7 - 12, so generally a bit older) and my first step would be to set the group up with a particularly fun / engaging task and then pull the troublemakers aside - out of earshot, either as a group, or, preferably, as individuals - at the start of it, so they feel like they're missing out, to ask them earnestly why they're here. burden them with the responsibility of their parent's money and everyone's time. you can follow this up with a veiled threat about finding out what you need to do to get them kicked out, or even just talking to their parents about whether the course is right for them, but that might not even be necessary.

    confidence with dealing with bad behaviour moment-to-moment takes time, but separating the bad kids physically / making them sit close to you, or in a separate space alone, is something you have to be comfortable doing. names are vital. you need to learn and use their names so they know they're being personally held accountable for their actions. if you don't know their names, this is what you do first when you pull them aside. "what's your name?" is an intimidating question to a kid who knows he's been acting like an idiot

    lastly, you can never separate behaviour from lesson design. are you sure the content is pitched at the right level? do you have much flexibility to differentiate what you teach to students who have less foundational knowledge? i empathise with you if you've been put in the spot of teaching difficult stuff to kids who aren't ready for it, but it's the teacher's lot to decide how much of their own time they're willing to spend creating and locating resources in that sweet spot to make showtime a bit easier and more productive. because there's never a one-size fits all course, especially with kids in a range of ages

    bsjezz on
    sC4Q4nq.jpg
    DisruptedCapitalist
  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    I can only reiterate the advice given above,
    But was triggered by this:
    seems like she's been overwhelmed with 4 or 5 troublemakers since school started. My daughter tells me often the entire class is punished for the actions of the few and she's missed out on several fun events at the library because of these problems.
    I had many teachers like this and they were never good at actually teaching anything and they had instilled me with the idea that it did not actually matter what I did in school. I would get punished for being disruptive when a bully behind me was kicking my chair or would be treated the same as the rest of my class because a teacher did not want to differentiate between students in their classroom. It was one of the most demotivating experiences in my life (which includes job hunting during a financial crisis). It made me disinterested in taking part in extracurricular activities, and it took me years to apply myself properly to my studies again.

    I recommend that you keep a close eye on this, and bring this up with your kid's school as soon as possible. A teacher who acts like this is bad for your daughter's development.

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
    DisruptedCapitalistAngelHedgieCambiata
  • DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Thanks for the advice everyone! I had to smack my head when some of you suggested I check with the program director. She told all of us during orientation that we should use her if we have any troubles in the class and I completely forgot about that.
    bsjezz wrote: »
    lastly, you can never separate behaviour from lesson design. are you sure the content is pitched at the right level? do you have much flexibility to differentiate what you teach to students who have less foundational knowledge? i empathise with you if you've been put in the spot of teaching difficult stuff to kids who aren't ready for it, but it's the teacher's lot to decide how much of their own time they're willing to spend creating and locating resources in that sweet spot to make showtime a bit easier and more productive. because there's never a one-size fits all course, especially with kids in a range of ages

    I'm pretty sure this is within their range. I had taught the same course at a different location over the summer with eight students and they were able to handle it just fine (and they were well-behaved too!) I'm going over a lot of basic computer skills like CTRL + C for copying and CTRL + V for pasting in the software that we're using so most of them are able to keep up with me. Though there was some difficulty the first week of the summer program where many of them had no idea on how to use a mouse--that surprised me at first until I realized many of them have grown up with touch screens.

    In this current class, I suspect you're on to something that the troublemakers might be having more difficulty following along than the rest. I think your suggestion that I have them sit with me might be a good idea since the class is a "follow along" creation class anyway.

    Aldo wrote: »
    I can only reiterate the advice given above,
    But was triggered by this:
    seems like she's been overwhelmed with 4 or 5 troublemakers since school started. My daughter tells me often the entire class is punished for the actions of the few and she's missed out on several fun events at the library because of these problems.
    I had many teachers like this and they were never good at actually teaching anything and they had instilled me with the idea that it did not actually matter what I did in school. I would get punished for being disruptive when a bully behind me was kicking my chair or would be treated the same as the rest of my class because a teacher did not want to differentiate between students in their classroom. It was one of the most demotivating experiences in my life (which includes job hunting during a financial crisis). It made me disinterested in taking part in extracurricular activities, and it took me years to apply myself properly to my studies again.

    I recommend that you keep a close eye on this, and bring this up with your kid's school as soon as possible. A teacher who acts like this is bad for your daughter's development.

    Agreed, it reminded me of my childhood too. I had no idea it was a problem until my daughter overheard me complaining to my wife about my own situation and told me about her problems. My suspicion is that it's not the teachers fault since this is not the first time the school administration has placed my daughter into a class because they want her to be a "model student" for troubled students. The only difference is that this year, the teacher doesn't seem to have any assistants in the classroom like previous teachers did.

    My wife and I plan on writing an email to the teacher and see if we can meet one-on-one to find out what's going on with the classroom. If we can't get any solution we'll go to the Principal, but, of course, the Principal is new this year too and I have no idea how responsive she will be either or whether she'll just dump the blame on the teacher instead of trying to work on a solution. I'll keep this thread updated as we try to solve this.

    DisruptedCapitalist on
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    alternatively, maybe what you are going over is too basic for them so they feel like its beneath them

    camo_sig.png
    bsjezz
  • DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    mts wrote: »
    alternatively, maybe what you are going over is too basic for them so they feel like its beneath them

    There's definitely one kid in the class who has leaped ahead of everyone else, though his energy seems to be more productive instead of destructive (he goes above and beyond what I'm demonstrating and makes his own designs). Honestly I wish I could just focus on him and show him all the more advanced stuff because I'd love to see what he can do, but I have to make sure the rest of the kids get taught first.

    DisruptedCapitalist on
  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    If he's that far along, maybe he can help you with being a 'peer mentor' of sorts.

    DisruptedCapitalistChillyWilly
  • DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    Update on this week's class:

    It worked better this time: I set up assigned seating and made sure the trouble makers were separated and I pulled them aside separately when they inevitably started acting up. I still managed (somehow) to swoop back in and help out the other kids and I feel like we actually made some progress this week. In particular one girl came in and said to me at the get-go, "I can't do this, I don't know what I'm doing!" I told her she'd do fine, and sure enough at the end of the class she was telling me, "this is so cool!" So yay for +1 teaching!

    I also found out afterwards during a staff meeting that one of the kids who was causing so much trouble has a disability that makes it hard for him to pay attention (oh, so that's why he was carrying to many fidget toys...) But I still feel I had some success with him because I actually had his attention for a good ten minutes or so on the topic before he drifted off again. Plus he wasn't disrupting the other students this time, so I'll count that as a success. I've also identified the students who have a strong grasp of the material (including the one I mentioned above), and I think I'll pair them up next week so they can inspire the kids who struggle.

    Phew! It's quite an adrenaline high, I went home that night bouncing all around; my wife was laughing at me because it's not often I get so pumped about any project.

    DisruptedCapitalist on
    see317schussTofystedethdjmitchellaMcKidElvenshaeGreat ScottOrogogusspool32m!ttensmysticjuicerdavidsdurionsDarkPrimusCalicaJaysonFourBouwsTTNTrooperfurbatbsjezzCambiataMulysaSemproniusRhesus PositiveAldoMegaMekEncAngelinaShogunCommander ZoomLeumasWhite
  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    edited October 2017
    I teach high school math and computer science. The key to everything is establishing a relationship with the students. If you win over the audience, the students will regulate each other. You will still have problem students on occasion, but you won't have problem classes. Some of that has to do with teaching content at the right level, some of that has to do with engaging students, and a lot of that has to do with just getting to know the students.

    Also, as you get to know your students and work with them these issues will get better. The classes I have on day one are nothing like the classes I have at the end of the semester.

    Your statement about your daughter being moved into a class to serve as a role model for troubled students is disconcerting. I cannot imagine requesting a student into my classroom to serve as a roll model. I have a student assistant in my CS class this year as I have triple the students this year, but she is a senior and receiving education leadership credits not taking the class.

    furbat on
    DisruptedCapitalistCalica
  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    I don't have a lot to add, but I wanted to say I work IT in a large public school district, and I see what you guys have to deal with every day, and I salute you for your compassion and commitment.

    DisruptedCapitalist
  • iRevertiRevert Tactical Martha Stewart Registered User regular
    Glad to see you made some progress!

    While not related to the advice I'd give you it's an excuse to post it again in a teaching thread.

    1Itd7.png


    ElvenshaeKana
Sign In or Register to comment.