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Challenges in a Classroom

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Elaine Thomas Elaine Thomas 1525 Points

One of the things that I worry about as a pre- professional teacher is possibly having a child or parent becoming a challenge and hindering the learning of others. What were some challenges you have faced in your classroom and how did you handle it?

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

My second year of teaching I had a child who was way out of control a lot of the time. He picked up a chair and threw it at me. I was very mad and not comfortable handling the situation by myself, so I sent for the principal immediately. He took the child out of the classroom and sent for the parents. By having someone else remove the child from the classroom, I was able to maintain my deportment, not upset the children, and continue on with class. But it may not always be feasible to do something like having a child removed from the classroom for extreme behavior. Then you need to "bite your tongue" and try your best to calm the child enough to take further calm measures as deemed feasible.

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Elaine, after 23 years of teaching, I can assure you, the things you conjure in your mind are often more challenging than the situations that actually occur. We all have parents and students that are disruptive to the learning environment. Students are easier to deal with than parents. With students you have 180 days to help them facilitate their behavior to engage in learning. Betty is right, when you have a child that is totally out of control, you legally have no choice but to involve an administrator. They have more rights in physically removing a student than we do. Don’t get me wrong, a child never has the right to lay a hand on you and by all means you have the right, perhaps even stronger, an obligation to protect yourselves and other children from harm. The difficulty comes when the parent is the one telling the student the mixed message you are trying to change. I have had several parents tell their child if someone calls them a name, makes fun of them or “gets in their face,” then by all means punch their lights out. Parents have told their child they don’t have to listen to anyone, and if they need to leave the room to go to the bathroom, visit the counselor, whatever, just do it, they would deal with me. Inevitably that leads to a parent conference where the parent makes the threat in front of an administrator which then gives them grounds to move to the next step. This is where having a great administrator is a real bonus. I am lucky. I happen to have one of the very best right now. She is supportive of us as staff and doesn’t tolerate students that take the right of others to learn away. Over time, students eventually grow up and outgrow a lot of their horrid behaviors. Some even come back and say, “Thank you.”

Lili Zheng lili zheng 2510 Points

Once upon a time, I taught third-grade students in an elementary school, a student in my classroom asked me to give her a chance to play a flute. I told her I will give you a chance to perform when I finished the class. But until the class was over, I did not give her any chance to perform. Because I do not know whether the school allowed to play the flute in the classroom, but also I am afraid of disturbing other classmate. However, in fact, I would like to give her a chance, but I was a new teacher and afraid of making a violation of school rules. I do not know how to deal with it!

Lisa Ballard Lisa Ballard 400 Points

I enjoy working with at-risk populations and have done so for most of my career. The absolute BEST way to handle poor behavior, outbursts or attention seeking behavior is to give it as little attention as possible. Practically ignore it while moving the student away from the class. Now, when a violent or inappropriate outburst happens you need to remove the student and call admin but NEVER engage in a conversation about the behavior, the student will either feel backed into a corner (and fight his way out) or he will think he is part of a negotiation (which it should not be). The reward most students are looking for when misbehaving is attention, control or both. If you try to talk them out of what they are doing "why are you acting this way..."etc then you can bet the behavior will continue the rest of e year. It is hard to do sometimes but it works, stay calm, don't get angry or hold it against the student later, simply tell them (don't ask) to move to the back of the room and continue teaching. Let them know that if they choose to continue then they will spend the rest of class outside (or in the office, facing the wall...whatever you have available). This allows them to chill out, not lose face or be embarrassed and not get any attention from the class. The rest of the class figures you out when watching this and then you will rarely have issues. I love my ED and behavioral kids but I wouldn't if I was fighting them all the time. It is all about your response, kids will respond to your reactions, ultimately they want your approval and love. :)

Chris Leverington Chris Leverington 4035 Points

I think the bottom line you have to keep in mind is that while no child can be "left behind," no child has the right to disrupt the learning of another child. I have to have these conversations with kids from time to time. Just recently, I had to have a conversation with a girl about her non-stop talking during the class. Every student I put her by their grade started to drop as soon as they were forced to sit by her. When I finally confronted her on the topic she said, "well I know all of this stuff already, so I don't think I need to pay attention.." When I brought up that her 68% in the class says otherwise, she got all snooty about it. If a student is really being out of hand, I'm really quick to get them out of the room.

Patrick Mangan Patrick Mangan 110 Points

I'm a future teacher as well, and this is also a pretty big worry for me. So I'm curious to see the responses in this thread for my own edification. But I think if a child is being a hindrance to the learning of my other students, I would start by making him or her leave the classroom. That may make that particular student miss important lessons, but I have an entire class to worry about, not just one student. If the problem persists, then I would talk with the principle about it and discuss other options. As for a parent being disruptive, I'm honestly not sure how I would deal with that. Students are theoretically easier, because you can just make them leave and they most likely will. But parents are grown adults and are not bound to the same constraints as students. So I suppose I would first talk with the parent and let him or her know the effect he or she is having on the class. If that doesn't do anything then I would talk to the principle and see what can be done about the problem.

Chris Leverington Chris Leverington 4035 Points

By parents being disruptive to you mean parent volunteers in the classroom? In high school we don't really see those. If a parent becomes a pain in the butt in regards to their child's grade or progress in my class...I generally begin ignoring them at some point...or i'm just very precise or frank in my communication with them.

Patrick Mangan Patrick Mangan 110 Points

I've heard stories about copter parents who will harass teachers who don't give their children good enough grades. I've heard of parents who will do this in private, by sending emails, phone calls, messages, etc. and I can see how stressful that would be for a teacher. I've also heard about parents who will actually come into a classroom and yell at teachers in front of a class. As a student, I never had that happen in one of my classes, maybe once or twice when I was young. But if that happened to me during a lesson I was teaching I don't really know how I would react. I mean, it can't really be that common, but if it were to happen I think I would just calmly ask that parent to leave and then communicate with me in private. I would have to be careful not to embarrass anyone, too.

Aaron Haeberle Aaron Haeberle 70 Points

After reading all these posts it seems like each individual has posted something about taking the student out of the class, and thus ignoring the child. I was curious as to the level of outburst that this action requires. Is the removal of the child from the classroom the first punishment he/she receives or is it the last? If so what are the disciplinary measures, besides ignoring, that come before the removal of the child?

Helen Edmonson helen edmonson 1010 Points

I have some of the same anxieties as a preservice teacher. I fear a situation I will not know how to handle.

Emilia Centeno emilia Centeno 1125 Points

I am not a certified teacher yet, but I have worked at a pre-school for the past two years and one thing I can suggest is having patience. Parents may not always understand things easily and as teachers is it our job to make them feel as comfortable as they can to assure them that their child is what is our best interest. Luckily I have never had a challenge with a parent or child but I hope to be prepared if it were to ever happen.

Alexandra Ortega Alexandra Ortega 1005 Points

Being a pre-service teacher myself, my biggest fear is having students in a class that do not respect my authority. Maintaining classroom management is an essential component to becoming a teacher, and I am still unsure if I would be able to handle an out of control, aggressive student. What are some strategies I could incorporate in my classroom to appropriately handle a child who will not take direction?

Stefanie Graban Stefanie Graban 170 Points

I have only been teaching for a year and a half, so I still identify with a lot of your worries. I can tell you the single best thing that I have ever heard: QTIP quit taking it personal Students often have behaviors that have nothing to do with us. Children (even those that are 18) cannot handle their emotions sometimes. They can't process how they are feeling, so they act out. Or they climb into their shell and don't come out. The reason they are acting up probably has nothing to do with you. Why are these children acting up? Maybe they are sick. Maybe they are embarrassed. Maybe they are mad. Maybe they are tired. Maybe they are hungry. NONE OF THAT has to do with you or your teaching ability. So when a student does something, don't take it personal. Find a solution to help them out of their problem.

Kammas Kersch Kammas Murphy 2090 Points

I am in my second year teaching and I think that I stressed more than I actually end up dealing with major issues. I teach high school and as long as I keep them motivated, they do a pretty good job behaving. I have had several parent meetings both with strong and not so strong students, and as long as I go in prepared and don't get pushed around, they always end up okay.

Ashley Behringer Ashley Behringer 425 Points

Hi Elaine, I appreciate your post because I am a pre-service teacher. I will be student teaching in less than a month; so this information will be very helpful to me. I feel like if you are able to keep students actively engaged, they will not act out. Does anyone have any classroom management strategies I could use for student teaching? I was wondering if anyone has any successful science routines or procedures.

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