So, being a YOUNG first year teacher, sometimes it is hard for me to know if students are being disruptive and chatty just because they want to see how far they can push me OR because they simply are that chatty and disruptive! My group of Grade 9 students is especially chatty and disruptive. The new English teacher who teaches right beside me has the same group of students right after me and was having the same problem. While discussing our mutual problem, we decided we needed some strategies to help us survive the rest of the year (we have the same students every day for an hour from September to June - this is double the amount of time they get in every other class as our Admin has decided that students need to have a strong grasp of Math and English during their grade 9 year which will assist them in the rest of their high school career).
Enter Math = Love to save the day! While doing my daily blog reading, I came across what Sarah was doing in her class with the "What were you doing" sheets. They seemed like a perfect fit for my students - students wouldn't get the attention they so desire after doing something that I find disrespectful and disruptive to a cooperative learning environment, instead they would simply fill out a form describing IN THEIR OWN WORDS what they were doing, and what they are now going to do about it. My colleague and I started using these forms this week. So far, I have only had to hand out one to a student who refused to follow my request to stay in his seat to work on problems individually instead of with friends (where clearly no work was getting done). My colleague on the other hand, has handed out 4. I believe the kids get restless after being together for 2 hours and start to go a little (more) crazy in her class.
The sheets seem to be working so far, and will provide me with excellent documentation when I need to contact parents!
Our students do not understand the concept of quiet. We have explained over and over again how some students need the classroom to be a quiet place in order to process information, especially when we are teaching. Yet our students continue to talk and whisper when we are giving instructions, lecturing, etc.
So, our second strategy is to put a tally mark on the board (in a designated area) every time a student talks when we are teaching or giving instructions. If students are contributing to the discussion, such as saying the next step to solving a math problem, no tally mark is given. However, if a student is talking to his friend at the back of the class about hunting plans, a tally mark is given.
Each tally mark received is worth 20 seconds at lunch. The tally marks continue over from my class to my colleague's class. As she has them right before lunch, she simply keeps them there for however long the tally marks add up to. The ENTIRE class has to stay, which I know is not fair for the better behaved students but we are hoping the peer pressure will kick in and the chatting will stop! Students have plenty of time to chat while completing assignments during class, we simply just do not want them talking when we are talking.
This strategy has worked this week so far, with students staying for about 2 - 3 minutes each day.
Hopefully our strategies will continue to work as we finally feel as though we have some control over the chaos that is our classroom some days!