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Does this happen to everyone teaching children? 
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Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2006 5:15 pm
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Location: Germany
Post Does this happen to everyone teaching children?
I have been teaching children now for almost seven years so I'm not inexperienced or a novice at this but what happens so often is that the first few months of teaching go very well, the children have great fun and join in everything and do what I have prepared, then one or two start to misbehave and refuse to join in and cause a distraction so the lesson ends up an hour of trying to keep the discipline.
I have several "ace cards" in my repertoire of activities which hold the children's attention for at least the ten minutes it takes but sometimes even these don't work.
Teaching children seems to go through three stages: The Furby stage when they are all wide eyed and innocent doing everything you want them to, then comes the Gremlin stage when they're completely out of control and push your patience to the limit ( It always reminds me of the whack the mole game - figuratively speaking), then comes the third stage which is a bit of the two first stages when they are still quite wild but do the activities and learn at the same time which is exhausting but satisfying.

One of my groups is at the Gremlin stage and I keep trying to find ways to keep the discipline but I'm running out of aces and patience.


Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:38 pm
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Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:50 am
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Location: Felipe Carrillo Puerto - Q.R., Mexico
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I have experienced the same pattern in teaching kids - no matter what the subject. I never really thought of it as stages, but I think the way you have described it is perfect. At first they are a bit timid and want to impress. Then they get comfortable - too comfortable and some try to see what they can get away with. Then things settle down to a fun managable chaos ;-)
I think this is a normal pattern and the teacher just has to learn to work through each stage and to try not to lose it in the gremlin phase :smt021

When my students are in that phase I try to find activities that are very focused, intense, and fun. I also make sure to remind them that I am in control. I may remind them of our "rules" (like that when I am talking they need to be listening with their mouths closed and eyes on me). Sometimes I will try a new attention getter - I like "If you are listening make a fish face." They like it and can't talk while they're puckering!

Don't worry - the Gremlin stage will be over soon!


Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:07 am
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Location: Yamanashi, Japan
Post exercise
wear the kids out with some intense TPR...
give them commands like jump/run/walk/spin/sit/stand/fly/swim, etc. do this hard and fast for 5 minutes and your unruly kids should get rid of a lot of that excess energy that makes it hard for them to focus. i find that as long as what we're doing is physical, even the unruly kids will participate.


Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:58 pm
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Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:38 pm
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Location: Malaysia
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Ever tried, sudden shrieking when teaching children...don't scare them out of their wits, but it gets them to come around and settle down for a bit. A sudden spring of the unexpected is what I always do and it seems to work.


Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:10 pm
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Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2006 5:15 pm
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Location: Germany
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I had the gremlins again yesterday and I tried the intense TPR but my problem is basically getting all the children to do the activity. Inevitably one or two of them isn't in the mood to join in and goes off so I either continue with the ones I've got and ignore that child, at the risk of others following suit or else stopping the activity to call the child back and risk losing control over the rest.
I always think about a career change after these lessons.
I avoid shrieking but I do use a bell which is very effective but for a limited amount of time and it's easier on the vocal chords.


But I definitely felt more positive knowing that It's not just me who has these problems. One of the mothers who sat in on the lesson because I had complained about her son who was mega misbehaving did not seem to find anything untoward in my lesson and commented how well her son had joined in and how much English he knew! Maybe others don't notice things like I do?


Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:49 pm
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
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Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
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Definitely is a normal pattern for classes. When I was a beginning teacher there was a saying `Don`t smile till Easter` (In NZ this used to be about 8-10 weeks in) A time to relax and enjoy the teaching. Personally I smiled beofre that as I wanted the students to know more about my personality at the start. The key to easing through the Gremlins stage is a pattern to classes that is understood and that you follow consistently. Students tend to like consistency.

A common method in Elementary schools to achieve silence is for the teacher to raise their hand and wait. Students who notice raise their hand and sit silently and the wave catches on. Surprising really how this works. We have even used it with a school staff to show the end of discussion time and it works.


Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:27 pm
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Post Gremlins
What age are your little gremlins? Are the parents supportive? In my class (1st graders)I use something called HOW I ACT! Each letter represents a different behavior I want the kids to work towards. For example, H stands for hearing. If the student is not listening and following directions, then they put and H card in their pocket. If the kids have a great 30 minutes with me, they can put a shout mark to represent they were behaving in an appropriate manner. If you are interested, I can give you more details about the program.

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VMorey
1st grade ESL teacher


Sat Nov 18, 2006 4:48 am
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It worked! Shrieking and fish mouths . I was more forceful, louder than usual, wore them out with TPR and left no room for useless discussions.
But I can tell you afterwards, I was so exhausted and had a froggy voice. I'm not even sure I will be able to keep it up for long, but I was so exhilerated by the success of keeping my lesson under my control!


Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:11 am
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Post How I Act
I would definitely be interested in the HOW I ACT method. Do you call the child who is not listening to put the H in his pocket?

I teach children of all ages but the ones under discussion are KG age 4 to 5 year olds.[/b]


Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:16 am
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Post How I ACT!
Yes, when a child is not doing what they are expected to do, I do call them up to put a specific card in their pocket. I have a couple of stinkers this year and it generally will whip them back into shape. I see my kids for 30minutes at a time. If they get an H in their pocket, then at the end of the 30 minutes, they know that they can't get the ! mark and they all want to walk out putting a shout mark in their pocket. Classroom teachers do it also. I am not quite sure how it works on a large scale. But this system really pinpoints behaviors. I am able to keep track of those few students that are pains and I can give very specific information to the parents as needed. The coolest part is they totally buy into it! I will post more about HOW I ACT! next week.
Good luck!

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VMorey
1st grade ESL teacher


Sun Nov 19, 2006 9:08 am
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Post HOW I ACT!
Here is what each letter stands for:
H- Hearing: listen to others, follow directions
O- Organization: organization of classroom and hallway
W- Work: complete class work and homework, do your best work
I- Important Choices: do your own work, be honest
A- Attitude: demonstrate a positive attitude, be respectful
C- Conduct: be in control of your body, respect other’s personal space
T- Talking: talk at appropriate times, raise your hand, wait your turn silently
!- Shout Mark: You did a great job!

The parents get a letter sent home explaining the system:

HOW I ACT! is a classroom discipline plan that makes students more accountable for their daily behavior. It is a system that involves everyone; the student, parents, and myself.

I believe children have the right to a safe and secure environment. When they step foot into a classroom, they become part of a community. This behavior plan will allow for students to monitor their actions as an active member of the classroom. This discipline system is set up to motivate and encourage each student to grow, be responsible, and strive for appropriate behavior.

How does it work?

Each day the students will be accountable for appropriate behavior. As a class, we have gone over the expectations of the classroom. When a student’s behavior deviates from these expectations, they will receive a reminder slip. This clearly and immediately tells the student what action needs to be changed. Each letter of HOW I ACT stands for a different behavior.

What do parents need to do?

Every night your child will come home with his/her HOW I ACT! recording sheet in a manila folder. Please look at the recording sheet and initial the paper. It needs to be put back in his/her backpack and returned the next day. It is extremely important that it be brought to school everyday. If it is not brought back, the child will receive a work reminder. This program allows the students to keep track of their daily behavior. If you have any questions, please email, call, or write a note when you send it back.

Rewards/Consequences

Students are accountable for their choices and actions each day. I expect that students will not need reminders throughout the day for acceptable behavior, but occasionally they are needed. When students need two or more reminders in a day, they will be expected to think about better choices for the next day. They will have a consequence sheet to be finished at home, in which they need to complete sentences about better choices. If a child forgets to finish the sentences at home, they will be completed during recess the next day. Quality work is expected and there is an example on the following page. Although I hope that parents will help discuss choices, I expect that the students complete the work themselves in their own words and spelling. If the inappropriate behavior persists, we will look into alternative consequences. Each child is unique and may need special arrangements. Your support at home is extremely important.
In order to motivate and encourage appropriate behavior, students will be able to earn Friday Fun. If a child has received two or less consequence sheets in a week, he/she has earned the privilege of participating in Friday Fun. If a child has three or more consequence sheets in a week, they will not participate in Friday Fun.

Communication

Please make sure to check and initial the recording sheet every night and replace the folder in the backpack. The students should ultimately be responsible for making sure it gets back to school. I appreciate your help in making this program a success. I will keep all of the prior sheets on file. Please call or email me with any questions or comments. I appreciate your feedback. I know together we can help the children respectful and responsible individuals.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PLEASE CUT OFF BOTTOM PORTION AND RETURN

I have received, read, and understand the HOW I ACT! program description sheet. If I have any questions, I will contact the teacher. I understand my child is responsible for his/her behavior and returning the recording sheet everyday.

Parent Signature: ____________________ Date: ____________

I will also send you the consequence sheet that the kids fill out. I don't use that becuase I only see the kids for 30 minutes at a time and they don't really need it. For kids that have a really bad day, I take a moment to call the parents to let them know. I have only had to do that once. And that student has straightened up!
More to come if you are interested....

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VMorey
1st grade ESL teacher


Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:15 am
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Wow, I buy it! I sit with a fish face right now. :) Thanks for tips.


Fri Dec 08, 2006 3:33 am
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You might like to get some more ideas from www.behavioradvisor.com


Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:06 am
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Simon wrote:
The key to easing through the Gremlins stage is a pattern to classes that is understood and that you follow consistently. Students tend to like consistency.

I definitely agree with those words. My general rule is to introduce rules and a certain routine during the first stage, which i think is both pleasant and tricky one. Whenever you give the children the control in the Furby stage, it's twice as hard to regain it later. The problem is sometimes to remain strict and consequent when children are so enthusiastic and "fresh" at the beginning. I don't mean being hard and heartless but only stating the borders clearly to them. And always teach with great enthusiasm while relaxing and enjoying yourself, always believe that the child is intelligent and good. When you feel that your children are monsters or monsters-to-be , your feeling will be easily picked up and that's when your problems start.
I don't shout at my children. Whenever a behaviour issue arises, i stop the lesson and calmly explain that i do not wish to see a certain bahaviour or there will be consequences. Usually the warning is enough as i mostly never punish an individual but the whole group, ig. by not doing their favourite game or activity. You'll see that sooner or later the group itself will take care of any 'lesson spoilers'. As soon as the 'spoiler' starts to cooperate i start to praise him/her as much as I can. Keep your best activities or games exciting by not using them too often and always stopping them before the children want to stop. I like the routine but always try to surprise them too.


Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:20 pm
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How To ACT!

When I was in elementary, I was always a gremlin til about 5th grade. I vividly remember my 4th grade teacher and how she worked with it. She had these card things in the back of the room with different colors on them. Basically blue being good, and red being bad. You can assume all the colors in between and the usual meanings behind them. Well, since I was the number one bad student, I had to take them home and show them to my parents (all the rest just left theirs in class). At that point, it was very important for me to not mess up enough to get a yellow/red card, or else I would be grounded. So, I can attest to how this program works (from experience :( )


Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:14 am
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