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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Observation, team teaching, and my failure at maintaining a well behaved class

- I had my formal observation at some point since I last posted. It went amazingly well. That is, the children are apparently terrified of the principal so they behaved perfectly for the observed lesson. I presented the content in a dynamic, interactive, multimodal way. The students interacted perfectly with the many materials that were used in the lesson and created products that demonstrated an understanding of the lesson objective. During both the whole group portion of the lesson and the time when they were at their seats, most of them were attentive and on task.

The downside to all this was, the principal didn't get to see how they usually behave, and therefor was unable to give me any helpful advice on how to deal with the usual behaviors. In my most conference meeting, I told the principal that their behavior was quite atypical. S/he kept apologizing for the effect s/he had on them. It was kind of funny.


- I have begun team teaching, teaching two blocks of math and sending my students off to my team teacher for guided reading. It's working out well and is giving me a chance to focus on the math. (Of course, next year the district will implement a new math program that is very different than the one we currently use, so I won't be able to use these newfound math teaching skills to make next year easier.)


- I have one student who I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get to behave. This student just doesn't seem to care. My "warning" system has no effect. Making the student come in for recess has no effect. Allowing the student to help if rules are followed has no effect. Talking to the parents has no effect on the student (though the parents are appropriately concerned about their child's behavior and want to help in any way they can. Without my prompting, they take away video games for bad days, and have offered a reward in the form of a cake for a stream of good days).

I am at a total loss. At the end of one day, after I had spoken with one parent already that day, they both came back and the other parent was really angry. I have to say, I was kind of scared with how angry the parent was.

I haven't sent the student to the office yet, because I guess I am a wimp and I'm not really sure how. Starting next week though, I plan to. This needs to stop. This student acts out the same way during special classes and in my team teacher's classroom. This student is fairly smart, scoring average on most tests (which puts the student above at least 75% of the students in the grade). Being given more challenging work or leadership roles does not change this student's behavior.

This student needs to be on task and following directions so that s/he can learn, and so that the surrounding students can learn.

4 Comments:

Blogger Moria said...

Okay, so this is maybe hugely naïve, and I know nothing about working with first graders, but: have you tried just talking to the student, alone, in off time? Asking hir what's up? Granted I've only worked with older kids (8-to-11-year-olds), but I was always amazed at what came out of just chatting with them. You never know.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

Moria - yes I have. I forgot to mention that in the post.

Right after specific incidents, I ask the student why s/he did what s/he did, and the student refuses to speak. S/he completely freezes when s/he is nervous or upset - refusing to speak and putting up an emotional curtain.

I have talked to the child one-on-one many times. Whenever s/he comes in for recess, I talk with the student. Again, the student usually freezes up. I give hir plenty of time, just sitting across from hir at a table, or going about my business getting the class ready while periodically re-asking hir questions - without getting responses.

One time I had the student write, for homework (because s/he refused to talk or write during school) why s/he was having such a hard time following the rules, and what s/he could do to follow the rules better in class. The student wrote a note saying s/he did not want to sit near Juan, because Juan told the student to do bad things. The two of them were already not sitting near one-another at desks or on the rug (the students have assigned rug seats), but I separated them even further. However, I always find the student walking over to Juan and talking to him. I told the student that I did my best to separate the two of them, but if s/he keeps going over to Juan, and Juan is telling the student to do bad things, that is out of my control. I also of course told the student to tell me if Juan is bothering hir, but s/he has never said anything.

I also am now trying to have the student come up with his/her own consequences. Last week I asked, "What should happen if you are not following the rules?" The student said that I should read the rules aloud to him/her. I said that was not something I could do if I was in the middle of teaching a lesson, but that I could point to the rules (posted on the wall), and the student could read the rules hirself. Aside from that, I got no response (the student froze up again). I worked on that all of last week with no other responses.

I have the student write apology notes if s/he has bothered another student in a major way and send a copy home with hir so the parents can see it.

So, I guess the big thing is - whenever I try chatting with this student (which I do most days), s/he completely freezes up and refuses to speak or write.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Sra. Profe said...

I'm sorry about the kid. Seems like a real handful... The best way to deal with him/her might be sending the student to work in the office - sure, it's not the best environment for that student, but s/he is not learning/working in the classroom anyway, and at least if s/he is removed, the rest of the students can learn. Your own sanity is a precious commodity - do what lets you teach).

The math thing (new books/curriculum next year) is enfuriating... instead of letting us teach, they keep changing the format and making us spend our time learning how to make new wheels.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

I have made a new class rule that, after a certain number of "warnings" students will be sent to the office. This student (and another) have both been sent to the office more than once since the inception of the rule. Hopefully they will start learning that I am serious and will continue sending them to the office each time they receive too many warnings in one day.

4:58 PM  

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