Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Yeah, I have one of those classes where the interventionists come in, and after they say, "Yeahhhhh (long pause). You have quite the class."

Yeahhhhh, is right!

So I need some suggestions.

They argue. With each other. Loudly.

"J just called me a name!" "No, I didn't!" "Yes, he did!"

"She kicked me under the table!" "No, I didn't!" "Yes, he did!"

This is me: "Please stop talking. I've already asked you once nicely."

"No, I wasn't talking!"

So, they argue with each other, they try to argue with me. I don't argue back--I'm trying to stay out of the power struggle. I've used "I'll argue with students before or after school" (Love and Logic). I've used, "if you continue to argue, there will be a consequence" (but then another argument breaks out 35 minutes later). We've had talks about what to say instead of arguing. However, they will get louder and louder unless there is some kind of immediate consequence, to which they turn around and whine and moan at ME because I am MEAN!! Same thing with sending them out of the their behavior is the same when they get back.

I'm trying to preserve some instruction time because if I stopped to take kids out of the room or call parents immediately, I would be stopping several times a day. I'm starting to wonder if doing that now more often will pay off later. But something is telling me it won't...

And what breaks my heart is the 18-19 kids that do what they are supposed to. I can't spend more time praising them or rewarding them because I'm putting out fires all day. My next door neighbor, my friend and mentor teacher said to me today, "I haven't seen you send so many kids out of the room so much in one day!" If they stay together, they will KILL each other!

Okay, so PLEASE let me know if you have any suggestions! I need some ideas and soon before I go CRAZY!


  1. I'm so sorry you're off to such a rough start. That sounds like my year last year. I wish I could tell you I found a quick fix- or any fix- to some of the arguing/back talk problems, but I was truthfully very relieved when the year was finally over. I did do a lot of class meetings and modeling, and I used the idea "firm on intent, flexible on solution" to guide my reaction to the kids. Whenever I decided something needed to be done, I made it clear that it was non-negotiable, but I made sure to give the student lots of choices as to how, when, and where it got done.

    Hope it gets better for you!

  2. Hello,

    I just happened upon your blog and my heart goes out to you. I had a very difficult class last year as well, and when I read your opening line it made me chuckle because I understood so well what you are going through.

    One thing that helped last year was reading a "Social Story" to my students. The Speech and language teacher in our building wrote one on the importance of listening for one of my IEP students. I read it every morning as part of our opening to the whole class. It really did help.

    If you haven't used a social story before you can find examples with a quick google search, or ask your speech and language teacher to help you write one that fits your situation.

    Good luck!

  3. I have a similar case with my students. I'm hoping that I squashed the "Shut up.." and "This sucks..." and "He touched/hit/kicked/pushed me." on day 1. However, just because I didn't hear it day 2 didn't mean it didn't happen. My students really struggle with walking the hallways, sitting on the carpet, sitting at their tables, sitting in the cafeteria...hmm, there's a pattern. I send kids away from the group and then after about 5 minutes give them the opportunity to rejoin the group IF they think they can control their behavior. This seems to be working ok. They don't like to have to leave their friends. I still have one special child that none of my normal strategies are going to work on...when I find the magic Harry Potter spell, I'll let you know :-/

    Blackboard and Beyond

  4. Oh this sounds all to familiar! I have a WONDERFUL class, except 3 kids. These three are very immature for their age, and I think find some entertainment in fighting and arguing.

    Cutting in line is a big thing with these three students, and it's the same conversation you mentioned. "He cut me!!" "No I didn't!!" "Yes you did!!!!!"

    In this situation, I ask them to think if they are acting like responsible third graders, and if they continue fighting I ask both of them to go back to their seats and try lining up again. I know that one student shouldn't cut another, but at the same time scream fights aren't acceptable in my classroom.

    For other issues with these three students, I try to give them two choices. Choice #1 is more of a punishment type option and choice #2 is to remove the student from the problematic situation.

    For example, two of my students always claim that one took the other's pencil out of their desk. So I tell them you can either show me that you can be responsible and either admit that you took someones supply or keep your hands to yourself. If you cannot do this then your desk will be next to mine for a week. This seems to work for my class, but if it doesn't work I'm not sure what I'll do.

    On a side note, I have another question to tag onto this post. I have one girl who is a gigantic bully. She's incredibly mean to the other girls, but the other girls are still young and naive that they don't really seem to understand what she's doing. It's been an issue for a little over a year, and I knew about this situation going into the school year. However, there are now parents that want their daughters out of my class because she is in there! And it's only the second week of school! I am at a total loss of what to do about her! She will do all of her "damage" during times when I'm not around. It's either during recess, group work, or before/after school. It's hard for me to know exactally what happens because I only hear stories from the people who are there when it happens. I never know which is true... She acts nice to me, but will go behind my back do what she is not supposed to. Earlier this week I found her raiding our supply closet and as I caught her she was walking away with her pockets full of pencils, post its, dry erase markers, you name it. I confronted her and she said she was "just kidding" and put everything back. I moved her pin down (our form of punishment) but she could care less. Additionally, I've been told by a teacher that had her last year that mom isn't very responsive to teachers. Any suggestions?

  5. That's terrible! That sounds like my first two years! So, I started trying the wheel of choice in my room. It seemed to work out really well. They had to try two things from the wheel of choice first. Then, if those didn't work, they put a slip in the Talk Box (a shoe box with a slit). They write down the problem and the two things they tried. It should help the outbursts, hopefully. At your class meeting, pull out the talk box slips and brainstorm solutions as a class. You should discuss that the talk box is only a last resort and it's only for important things, not for he poked me. Stuff like that going on in the room can be nipped really quickly if you tell them I need for you to write me a letter during recess explaining why you did ______ and how you are going to solve the problem. That always works for me! If those don't work, then just be super strict and call parents in the middle of class.

  6. Thanks for all of the suggestions! I am sure I will come back to them again and again throughout the year! We're still on the long uphill climb!