Lately, I’ve noticed a pretty big classroom management issue in DD’s class. I volunteer at her class many times a week–sometimes every day–so I’ve noticed this on many occasions.
What the teacher does is punish the entire class when one or two are acting up or talking. When the class gets loud–usually on the instigation of these one or two kids–the teacher will raise her voice (sometimes to the point of what I’d consider yelling) and give a five-second countdown with the threat of taking away their recess–which has been happening quite frequently. Other times she won’t even say anything, she’ll just start writing tally lines on the board, one line for every minute of recess they lose, until the kids realize what’s going on and quiet down.
DD is in first grade–she’s six years old–and there are only 15 kids in her class. Just yesterday she said that she had to stand at the wall during recess with the rest of her class because these same two or three kids were talking.
Plus, there’s one particular child who’s an exceptional handfull. He seems really smart, but more often than not I notice that his behaviour issues, and the teacher raising her voice at him/sending him to the principal’s office/etc, are monopolizing the class and their learning time.
I’ve yet to say anything, and am not sure quite how. DD has been very clear about what’s been going on, and I’ve seen it myself. I totally do NOT like the idea of her being punished for some other kid’s misbehaviour. IMO, that kind of peer pressure (punishing the whole class for the misdeeds of a few) doesn’t take root until they’re MUCH older.
Did you have any issues with your child’s teacher(s) and how did you handle it? Your advice?
Honestly I would schedule a quick meeting with the teacher and discuss the issue. Be sympathetic to her - she has a TOUGH job - but maybe suggest other techniques that could be more effective. I’d mention that your daughter feels frustrated with the others in the class - especially the troublemakers - and she’s starting to feel disgruntled about school in general. Maybe she could consider some individual behavior techniques rather than focusing it on the entire class?..
For example - in my son’s first grade classroom they have a “penny chart” (but I suppose it could be anything, stars, dots, whatever)… if they are “caught” being GOOD, they earn a penny (and go add it up on the class chart), if they are “caught” being BAD, they loose a penny (and have to go up and remove it in front of the class). At the end of the week, those who have earned more than 12 pennies can “purchase” a prize out of the treasure chest. In addition to that, they also have other individual punishments for bad behavior - silent lunch, no recess, but again those are individual punishments, not class-wide.
I really would sit and talk with her… because that technique can have a negative impact on those who are trying really hard to be good… it’s not fair in the least! But, I would be very sympathetic and understanding and kind during your discussion - focus on the effects it has on YOUR child and how you think positive reinforcement for the GOOD behavior may be just as effective.
As someone in teacher training i must say that the teacher’s tactics are relatively common. The theory with group punishments is that peer pressure will force the children acting up to behave. When I have used it, it works (including on 5 and 6 years old).
On the whole “monopolizing the class” thing, most teachers will say that 20% of the children take up 80% of the time, it’s a universal thing in education.
When did you’re class start the school year? If it was mid-September it’s still early. The teacher’s tactics may start paying off.
It seems to me that classroom management skills are not taught in normal teacher colleges.
There are three stages of classroom management, called “A B C” - Antecedent. “ante” means “before” - antecedent management is in two parts: 1: the children are told what the rules are. (2 or 3 rules, only - don’t make it to be the Ten Commandments, or, God forbid, the Book of Leviticus). 2: The children are told what the consequences will be. Consequences are on a scale of mild to serious (from the child’s point of view). An example of scaled consequences is: 1. Verbal reprimand; if that doesn’t work, 2. Remove the child from temptation (take away the toy, change the seating of kids who are talking, so that they can’t talk any more, etc.) if the children are still doing the behaviour or have escalated to new bad behaviour 3. Temporary isolation from the group (example, five minutes standing in the corner), if that doesn’t stop the behaviour, 4. A trip to the principle’s office, and if defiance continues, then 5. the child is sent home. The children need to be told ahead of time what will happen if they break your rules.
B is for Behaviour. When you see the behaviour about to begin, 1. “the look” - you know the one I mean - if the behaviour doesn’t stop, then 2. proximity - move closer to the child so that he/she becomes aware that you see him/her, and finally 3. Verbal reminder of the rule. If the child goes ahead and does the behaviour anyway, then you move to C, Consequences.
C is for Consequences. Do the consequences that you told the children you would do. Be consistent. Make sure they see for themselves that you will always do what you said you would do.
For myself, I would never punish a whole class for the misbehaviour of one or two of the children. I find that it is counterproductive; the children just think, “Well, if I am to be punished, then I might as well do the behaviour that I am already being punished for.”
^I disagree, Deanot. . . what I see the group punishment doing is showing the disruptive kid how easy it is for them to control the class. Why would the child change their behaviour when it reaps such powerful rewards (even negative ones)? Plus, if this isn’t working for the classroom management issue as a whole, then it’s not a far step for the well-behaved kids to think, “gee, why should I bother being good? It doesn’t matter, I’ll just get punished anyway”.
My son had a teacher a couple of years ago that did this on a regular basis. It’s a rookie mistake, often little more than attempt to look tough and in control. After the second incident, I contacted the teacher. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I’m sorry my son keeps misbehaving in your class. Tell me: What is he doing so that I can discuss it with him at home?
Teacher: Oh, your son isn’t misbehaving. It’s other students.
Me: Ah. Well, in that case, my son will not be punished for what others are doing. That’s not going to be a problem, is it?
Teacher: Uh… No, sir.
Of course, I come off a lot more intimidating in person. Your mileage may vary.
She’s shooting over their heads. She wants the kids to take control of those who are causing trouble. It’s beyond their years. It’s poor technique. She’s either A) Unsure of what to do; of B) Afraid of the trouble makers parents. She needs to keep those kids in from recess or simply eject them from the classroom and send them to the principal’s office. She should do this sternly and without emotion.
Ideally, early on in the year she would have told the kids that every classroom needs rules to operate and do its job. What are some good rules? The kids will come up with about every rule a teacher will. Then let them think of some punishments for breaking those rules. Shockingly, kids are usually more strict when it comes to the rules than teachers. If you do that you can simply look at kids who are misbehaving and say, the whole class decided what are rules would be…It really gives them ownership of their learning and the classroom in general.
Now, that said kids who are set on disrupting class have to be, and I know this sounds awful, hammered early and hard. Say: “Johnny. Jane. I need you to leave our classroom. We’re trying to learn and you are making it hard to do that. So, you have to leave and what we learn now you’ll have to learn at recess or after school.” Listen to no argument, no second chance, etc. OUT.
She should also call or email their parents and tell them something great about their kids and then go into the “Yes. JOhnny is really great when it comes to blah blah blah, he’s a natural leader…whatever. So, I was really shocked when for whatever reason he made it hard for the class to…” This way you have told the parent they have a good kid that did a bad thing instead of telling them they have a bad kid. Ask them for a suggestion. Ask them what they want you to do if this happens again. Most will want to help. Sometimes you get those that will say “hey, that’s your problem.” When I’ve heard that I respond, “You’re right, and I will solve it with or without you. It’s entirely possible, however, that my solution may not be to your liking.” Tell the teacher to document it all and to never relax the standards of the classroom.
*I agree…ugh, I HATE this ‘‘technique.’’ It’s not even a technique, it’s the easier way out, if you ask me. Far harder to get the disruptive kid out of class, or call his/her parents to conduct a conference, than it is to say…’‘no recess for everyone, now.’’ Ugh!! I understand your issue with it. I liken it to, my daughter gets in trouble, but I walk into my son’s room and tell him he’s punished also…huh? What? That would go over like a lead balloon in my house. It makes no sense, and I also witnessed this during my son’s football years. Talk about unfair? There would ALWAYS be two or three troublemakers, and the entire team had to stay late to do extra chores or push ups.
I actually called my son’s coach to discuss this. I said, what is this teaching the kids who are showing up, and doing the work, and who don’t get in trouble? It teaches those kids that hey, what’s the difference if I’m good or bad, doesn’t matter. To the kids who are not behaving, they learn quickly that nothing ‘that bad’ happens to THEM. Imagine in a work situation, you or I show up late, and the whole office pays the price along with me? lol It makes no sense, so why is this technique used on kids?
I would definitely have a conference with the teacher, and calmly but firmly discuss this. I do not agree that team punishments for the ‘sins’ of a few is appropriate. Take the disruptive kids OUT of the class, and when they see that they are not going to be able to continue on with their shenanigans, maybe they’ll stop.
To the poster who said this works…I have not ever seen it work for very long. My son said back when he played football that the same kids, day in and day out, would start up…and the team would be punished. If you don’t address the kids who are acting up, it won’t change. And one would think that the kids who were being punished would say something to their friends to get them to stop…so, the kids are responsible for the conduct of the classroom, or the team? That is why adults are there, to supervise and keep things in order. Little kids shouldn’t have to be placed in situations to resent their classmates, or to scold them. That is the teacher’s/coach’s job.
So, your daughter stood against the wall at recess to pay the price for what another kid did? WHHHAAAAATTTT??? I remember those days. My dd would come home back in 1st and 2nd grade, telling me the same. I didn’t jump right away, but after a few occasions, I finally said (I’d wait until a parent-teacher conference to discuss it)…’‘unless my daughter is the one causing problems, please do not keep her from recess. This is teaching her that no matter what SHE does, she has to be worried about what OTHERS are doing.’’ :mad: Don’t get me started on those days of yesteryear. Grrr. That particular teacher changed her ways, and finally started sending the troublesome kids down to the principal’s office. Soemtimes, you have to speak up to have change occur. Teachers ARE overwhelmed with a lot, but they can’t lump everyone, the well behaved ones and the ones who are not, into the same category.
I would schedule a conference, and see if that helps. Be kind, but get your point across. Good luck, twosweetgirls. *
I will. I find it especially effective when combined with being right, as I was in the situation described in my previous post. It certainly gets a lot more accomplished than being yet another snarky Internet poster on a high horse.
I never would have pegged you for ‘intimidating’ Mark. lol
Your scenario here is perfect. I did a similiar thing with dd’s teacher way back when, and it is effective, it does work. (no intimidation, however lol) I was not going to sit back, and have my little one pay the price, week after week, missing out on recess, because one or two kids (the same kids) couldn’t behave. No, that is not acceptable. Plus, 1st, 2nd grade…these are the years that kids get a sense of enjoyment in school. How degrading for a child to be so excited to head off to school, but worry about what others around him/her are doing, and that deep down they stop getting their hopes up about recess and such.
Me either, but I’ve been told a number of people that I come across a bit fearsome at times. I think I’m a sweetheart.
But enough about me.
Mass punishment is rarely effective except in extreme circumstances, such as when I taught in an alternative placement school for violent youth and we had to put the school and unit on shut down to increasingly dangerous behaviors from about 15% of the students. In this case, we were upfront with the students. Yes, they were all being punished. Yes, it was unfair to many of them. The remedy to the situation for each individual student to adhere to required behaviors for X amount of time, after which students on a case-by-case basis would be removed from shut down.
But that was an extreme situation.
Mass punishment in a regular school is not necessary, and it is ineffective if not actually counterproductive. The teacher will have much better results by identifying one or two problem behaviors, teaching an acceptable behavior alternative for each, and then rewarding students who exhibit the acceptable behavior.
I took a classroom of violent, anti-social 6th and 7th graders and used this technique to turn from nonproductive, cussing, stabbing-each-other-with-pencil kids into a class of productive, cussing, non-stabbing students.
Definitely talk to the teacher about what is going on. An email might be a good start, if your school uses email that way. The only way I would give a consequence to a whole class would be if it was such a pervasive behavior that I couldn’t tell who was doing it…and even then, taking away recess from first graders is counterproductive. And the tally thing for first graders? You can barely grab their attention by talking directly to them! I’m sure they don’t notice for a really long time. The only thing I would caution you on is to approach the teacher first - if you jump over their head and go to the administration, things can get pretty nasty.
*Agreed…go to the source of the issue first, the teacher. Hopefully, the conversation will go well!
PS–Camelia, I agree that often times what happens in groups and teams situations, is that the coach or teacher can’t tell who is causing the disruption. In my son’s case, the coach would say…ok, who did that, or said that? No kid raised his hand of course, SOOOO…the entire team got the punishment. I understand what you are saying, here. *
Being right or the fact that it is effective doesn’t justify your trying to be intimidating to get your point across. Beside the fact that it is usually uneccessary, the problem you will have when you try to come across as intimidating is that the person you are intimidating is now going to see your relationship as adversarial, which is not a good thing when he/she is teaching your son for the rest of the year. I think you can see how this is not ideal.
I like being direct, but leading with intimidation…not so much. But, different strokes for different folks.
Please quote me saying I was trying to be intimidating to get my point across. Or, better yet, don’t bother. I have better things to do than to respond to people who mischaracterize others in an attempt to presume moral superiority.
So I just came back from volunteering in DD’s class again, and this time witnessed the teacher actually yelling at one student in the hallway, in front of other students going out to recess and in front of another teacher. Not only that, but she repeated her directions–putting books in backpacks and then placing them by outside shoes–perhaps five times. And again today, DD’s class didn’t get recess because “there was just too much to do”, according to the teacher.