Friday, December 30, 2011

Mission impossible?

All I wanted to do today was find two things:  a plastic organizing thingy and tokens.  If you're a teacher that doesn't sound strange at all!  I got this idea to help me not go crazy with my class.  There are two main problems I have with them:  they don't. stop. talking. and they are always wanting more and more rewards and fun things given to them.  I guess I was spoiled for the past 3 years because I looped with my class. They were awesome and we were truly a family.  It seemed like they really cared about me and I was CRAZY about them.  They were intrinsically motivated, attentive, and all around awesome.

Enter this year's class.  I had a fabulous classroom economy set up, alternative seating (beanbags and lapboards), choice assignments, etc.  I was forgetting one main thing when I planned all those things...these kids were a NEW group!  They were not coming to me ready for all of those totally awesome things that I worked hard to get ready.  I had been warned about this rising group but I figured I could get them under control once they got into my class.

So the first month was a total disaster.  I modeled and demonstrated and taught my expectations like crazy, but it didn't work.  The kids couldn't handle it, even though I think they really wanted to.  I took everything away and went to a total old school discipline system.  You earned rewards if you didn't get in any trouble, and if you did get in trouble you earned silent lunch, no recess, phone call home, etc. 

THAT didn't work either! In the process I was getting so burned out.  My kids who were good started  thinking their rewards weren't enough. "Is this all we get?"  Ungrateful kids are just so not cool.  Then, even the kids I thought I could count on started to be disrespectful and talkative.  I never thought I'd be this teacher...but I was totally the teacher who hated her job and didn't want to go to work.  It's a vicious cycle, because I'm sure the kids can tell and then they don't try their best.

I still don't have the answer.  Christmas break came just in time.  I feel so rejuvenated and ready...well, not really ready, but less dreading going back. 

So back to the original topic:  my two shopping items.  I am going to set up a token system with my class.  Well, if I can find tokens! I went to 4 stores, found the organizing container but no tokens.  I may end up using these flat glass marbles that I already have at school.  I will just have to write the kids' numbers on them very quickly when I get to school on Tuesday!

Basically, all the kids have 10 tokens with their number on it.  When they do something great, you put one of their tokens in a bag.  Then, whenever you need a helper or have an occasion where you need to pick someone, you chose from the bag.  I think this will emphasize doing great things and not emphasize a physical reward that the kids are expecting all the time.  At the end of the week I can pull a number of tokens and give out rewards, but I may not because I can just see the tears if certain kids' numbers don't get pulled.

I'm just brainstorming, but here are some things I want to start implementing/teaching on Tuesday:
  • the token system
  • new expectation posters for different times of the day (arrival, teaching time, working time, transition times)
  • gratefulness (HOW DO I TEACH THIS? :) )
  • maximizing my time (pull a small group even if I have just 10 minutes before the next thing)
 I'll be sure to update with how it actually goes!

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