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Developing Authority as a Student Teacher

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Jessica Nguyen Jessica Nguyen 1155 Points

I've been student teaching for half of a semester now and have been having problems becoming a serious authority figure in the eyes of the students. I am trying to be consistent and firm with consequences so that they know I mean business. This only works when my cooperating teacher is in the room, but once I am alone with them, I seem to lose control of the entire class. What are some strategies I can use to develop authority with my new students?

Jennifer Arbaiza Jennifer Arbaiza 1635 Points

I've definitely experienced the same difficulties in the classroom as a student teacher. From personal experience in my own classroom I've come to learn to use a very stern voice with my students and to be as specific as possible with my directions so that my students know exactly what they should be doing. When we go on restroom breaks I like to have them play the quiet game so that they are not being loud in the hallways while my cooperating teacher is gone somewhere else. It seems to work pretty well with my kids so far.

Uchenna Agbahiwe Uchenna Agbahiwe 335 Points

Hello, I'm in the same situation as you. One thing that I find helps in being looked at as an authority is to set my expectations for the class as the beginning of the day. In that way, the students know what behavior is alright and what will not be tolerated. I also try to remember that the students will never treat me in the same way that they do their usual teacher because they know I am not their regular teacher.

Melissa Singleton Melissa Singleton 1630 Points

I am practically in the same situation except I'm still with my mentor teacher...this one student in particular loves to push my buttons and doesn't think he has to listen to me. He doesn't think he has to listen to me at all.

Dannielle Leger Dannielle Leger 970 Points

One thing I may suggest is that you sit down with your cooperating teacher and discuss this problem. Let him or her know what occurs when they are outside of the room; they may have a way that they can help you in this. I would also urge, if you have not already, try to build up one-on-one relationships with each of your students. When a student feels as though you care about them beyond just performing a task, they are more likely to listen to you, stay engaged and help along those students that are still not really listening. 

Jamie Edgington Jamie Edgington 275 Points

One thing you can try is to make sure you stay quiet while waiting for them to follow directions. If they are talking and off task, simply tell them you will wait till everyone is ready. Do not start until everyone is on task and quiet. This shows your willing to wait. I would also let them know that you have all the time in the world to wait and they are only wasting their time that could be used for something fun. 

Brandon Ishikata Brandon Ishikata 330 Points

I am a student teacher too and have experienced the similar struggle. I have tried my best to take control of the class, especially when my master teacher is out of the classroom. When observing other teachers, I saw that table points, class points, and teacher vs student points are a helpful classroom management tool.

John Pacheco John Pacheco 1215 Points

I have had the same problem with a couple of my students as well, also a student teacher. With students who misbehave i try to give them direction as to what they're supposed to be doing. For instance instead of telling them to stop i try to say "Sally you should be doing this instead of something else". I also from the very beginning i have set a standard and told the students upfront that they are not optional. I stick to this religiously but most importantly follow through with what you say. It only takes one time for them to remember when you don't. Hope this helps, your standards can be anything you choose. i generally go with umbrella rules, "Be Respectful, Treat others the way you would want to be treated, Listen to the teacher".

Elizabeth Epstein elizabeth epstein 370 Points

Sometimes students don't know what they should be doing,(either because of unclear directions or because they weren't paying attention) and giving them that direction instead of just saying "stop" can be really helpful.

Mendi Butera Mendi Butera 405 Points

As a fellow student teacher, I noticed that I had the same issue when my master teacher was gone and I was left in charge. I think that students want to test your boundaries and know how far they can push you, but at the end of the day students crave structure and rules. What seemed to work best for me, was at the beginning of the school day, I let students know the schedule and that I knew we were going to have a great day. I also instituted a point system. I created table points and class points as incentives for students to be on task, respectful, and be in charge of their behavior. This helped my students because they began to monitor their own behaviors in order to earn points.

Crista Smith Crista Smith 625 Points

I think you are definitely on the right track with being consistent. Another approach you can take as well is having strong, open communication with your guide teacher. Make sure she/he is on board with any consequences/rewards you want to issue. Follow through on your incentives while your guide teacher is in the room so your students can see she supports your authority and continue to follow through when she is gone. Keep it consistent throughout.

Stephanie Jerez Stephanie Jerez 1165 Points

I went through the exact same situation and completely understand you! I was blessed to have a CT that told me it I have the right to implement the same consequences as she does, the clip chart for instance. I use many routines when needed, and reward the students as well as ask them to put their clips down if they are misbehaving. It takes a lot of practice, but once you are over the fear (in my case at least, not saying it is the same for you), and build confidence, the students will respect you.

Jerrica Millon jerrica millon 340 Points

I also have trouble with this as well. Something that works well for me is to wait until all students are listening and ready before moving on. It can be really tempting to just continue on with your lesson, especially if it's only one or two students who are distracted and/or misbehaving. However, I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't holding them accountable for their behavior, and that it only made things worse for me in the long run. Wait time is really important (and also difficult at times...what takes only 10 seconds can feel like 10 minutes!). I struggled with this in the beginning, but have found that it works pretty well and students begin to catch on.

Julia Osuna Julia Osuna 420 Points

I have been student teaching for about a month now and have already had some similar experiences. Now I know the students are still adjusting to me being in their room as a "second teacher" but I don't want to over step my boundary with my master teacher. This mostly happened when there has been a substitute teacher in the room. I tried to maintain their daily routine as best I could for the sub but I still did not feel as in order as when their teacher is in the room. My master teacher has told me it will come with years of experience and when you start your own classroom so I'm hoping down the lines I will have the respect teachers do with their students.

Stefanie Donnelly Stefanie Donnelly 1415 Points

Hello All, I had this problem when I worked as an after school counselor at an elementary school. Not until I was older and in the classroom did I learn how to manage the children. Kids like to test you when they first meet you and see what they can get away with. The important thing is to be friendly but firm in the beginning. I've been told I have a stern "mothers look" and I have deterred children in the past with my look to not do something they were not supposed to be doing. My mentor teacher also had a reward system in place in her classroom for the whole class. When they were behaving they would get marbles added to the jar and when they were misbehaving they would get marbles taken away. When I taught my first lesson she told me to take marbles away as soon as they became unruly. As soon as they began making jokes and talking among themselves I took the marbles out of the jar. They saw that I was serious and did not utter a peep after that. You could implement a system like that and the children will be more likely to see you as an authority figure then. -Stefanie Donnelly Preservice teacher

Kaitlyn Warner Kaitlyn Warner 1245 Points

Hi Jessica, I am also a student teacher and will begin interning officially next semester. I think that it is tough to come in and assert your authority right away, but I have found it very helpful when mentors have introduced me on day one as another teacher and said that they should treat me just as they treat her. I have also found strike or tally systems helpful if students are misbehaving because they are able to see that there are consequences for their actions and once they see that you will discipline them if need be, they know you mean business. Good luck! Kaitlyn

Dina Oti Dina Oti 1245 Points

Hi! From personal experiences, I've too dealt with a classroom that had difficulty seeing me as "someone in charge". I would agree with others on the post that setting your expectations is a great way to let the children know that you're serious. I've also found helpful that developing positive relationships with the students is good, and over time they will trust you and see you as their role model which will definitely give you authority. Hope this helps and good luck!

Stephanie Bardina STEPHANIE BARDINA 505 Points

I have to agree that consistency is key. I have worked with young children for ten years and when you let them know what you expect and follow through they seem to get it together, I can imagine it to be a little tricky with student teaching since we come in and they already have their teacher in the classroom. I have not started my student teaching yet but will say that reading this post has been helpful and has given me insight on a potential situation that could arise. Thank you all for posting and providing so many personal experiences. Hope everyone does well and hope everything works out for the best

Stephanie Bardina STEPHANIE BARDINA 505 Points

I have to agree that consistency is key. I have worked with young children for ten years and when you let them know what you expect and follow through they seem to get it together, I can imagine it to be a little tricky with student teaching since we come in and they already have their teacher in the classroom. I have not started my student teaching yet but will say that reading this post has been helpful and has given me insight on a potential situation that could arise. Thank you all for posting and providing so many personal experiences. Hope everyone does well and hope everything works out for the best

Sue Molenaar Sue Molenaar 230 Points

While co-teaching, I've discovered that informing the students EXACTLY what is expected of them prior to beginning each lesson significantly reduces behavior issues and questions.  :-)

Andrea Villalobos andrea villalobos 525 Points

Hi, I agree with you, consistency is KEY. I have experience the same, so what I try to do is be consistent with my expectations and my rules. What I suggest is have your classroom rules and expectation in place of the classroom where all students are able to see them, you can even incorporate your students ins process of elaborating the classroom rules, if you incorporate them they would probably respect them more. Sometime when students see someone young as a teacher they do not take them too seriously and that is why I consider so important a classroom management system. With a classroom management system you will be able to modify and change disruptive behaviors for appropriate ones.

 Erika Cristina 295 Points

This forum was exactly what I needed to hear. I work for a tutoring company, my company was recently hired to create and FSA prep program for a charter school. I work at the school in an after school program twice a week for one hour. It is extremely difficult because I have a curriculum and lesson plan to follow in order to help the students get prepared for their text coming up in the Spring. The students only have ONE hour twice a week and it is not easy to get all the lessons and content in that short amount of time. I have a hard time controlling the students because since I am an outsider not a school personnel they don't take the class period seriously. I don't have many consequences and positive reinforcement barely worked. I teach a 3rd grade class and they're not having it after their 8 hour school day. Hopefully some of these tips will help me! Currently trying my best to help these students for the exam, but i've realized how hard that is when you are a student teacher.

NIcole Motley Nicole Motley 365 Points

Hi,  I am a preservice teacher as well. I have first graders this semester and I have learned that they are very chatty and still practicing using self control and monitoring their voice levels. My host teacher gave the students the speech when I first arrived about how they should listen to me but I noticed the same thing you're talking about, when the teacher leaves out the room its "socialize with my friend time". I'm currently using multiple attention getters and positive reinforcement.  I'm not as worried about the children not listening to me because I know they will never give me the same respect as the real teacher because they know i'm not the real teacher.  My advice to you is exude self-confidence. I had issues in the past with self-confidence while teaching. The children can sense when you don't feel comfortable. If you don't believe in yourself nobody else will. Now when I give directions or hand out some kind of consequence they know I mean it because I always follow through and use a stern voice. 

Iris Marrero Iris Marrero 1860 Points

Hi all, I am soon to be pre-service teacher. I really enjoyed reading these tips, as I also struggle with behavior management. I think these tips will help me greatly when I begin my internship in January! I think establishing a points system is a fun way for students to be on task, and know that there are advantages and disadvantages for certain behaviors. Thank you for your help!

Antonia Adams Antonia Adams 845 Points

I think it is important to always provide clear instructions and expectations. Before I give a lesson, we always go over expectations and I ask them to hold one another accountable. I will often hear them redirecting one another once I give "the look" in their direction. Another thing I've done is build rapport with each student. I try to take a few minutes each day to ask what they did the previous weekend, what they're looking forward to, or just a random question. You'd be amazed at how much they light up when they receive the opportunity to talk about themselves. Being consistent is also important, my students (2nd) know that my cooperating teacher and I have different expectations and that respect that because we are constantly talking about the behavior and quality of work that is acceptable to me. 

Kim Duba Kim 380 Points

Have you been with the students since the first day of school?  I am a student teacher as well and I think because I have been with the students since the first day I have been able to build that authoritative role with most students.  My program has also stressed that class room management is learned with time so we will find our niche soon! 

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