Monday, November 18, 2013

Suggestions for a Frustrated Teacher

frustrationRecently on another site for special ed teachers who knit and crochet, someone asked the following questions. I thought I would share my answers.

· How do you keep control over your classroom? How do you deal with a couple of kids who act out on a regular basis, while not neglecting the others?
A: Have a behavior plan in place and be consistent. Stick with this plan for at least a month even if it seems like it isn’t working because students will test you to see who can give in first. Consistency is the key. I would call parents on a regular basis (at least every other week) and brag about their children when they are doing good things. I would also just touch base to see if they had any concerns and tell what we were working on. I would come into class and tell the kids that I called some homes to brag about them. The kids who act out always ask why I wasn’t calling their homes and I would tell them that if they were good that day, I would call home to brag and I would. This made them try harder to act appropriately.

· How do you keep them on task? E.g., for a fidgety student, a case manager recommended some silly putty to keep his hands busy. Instead, it just keeps him fully engaged in playing with the putty (which is a tolerable result because at least he’s staying in the classroom and isn’t disturbing others), but usually ends up with him throwing pieces across the room (then the putty is taken away, he starts throwing things, and has to be removed from the room).
A: I have used the rubbery squishy balls for a student to manipulate while I am talking. This has helped. I also allowed students to stand up in the back of the room as long as they weren’t disturbing anyone.

· How do you let your kids know that failure is ok? One or two go into anxiety attacks at the thought of getting even one question wrong, to the point where they not only refuse to try to answer it, but also refuse to move on to the next problem.
A: I would start off with some activities I knew a student would be able to do. The more successful they are, the more likely they are to attempt harder stuff. I also told my students that on some things, even if they got all of the answers wrong, I graded for effort and they wouldn’t fail. I also said that I could tell if they gave full effort or not and if they didn’t, they would fail.

· When situations are spiraling out of control, how to you break the cycle? A kid acts out, teacher reports it to mom, the kid becomes resentful and acts out more, teacher has to tell mom, to the point where even when the teacher want to email the mom about positive behaviors the kid panics.
A: This is why contacting parents on a regular basis is so important! Once you get in a routine about giving attention to the positive behaviors, many of the negative behaviors will fade. Check out which is a free program on PC and free app for Ipad. It is fun and easy to use for behavior management.

· How do you manage all of the bureaucratic paperwork? Keeping track of unique IEPs for each student, teacher evaluation requirements, etc.
A: I have a spreadsheet with all of the things that have deadlines and list the deadlines. Each day I make a list of what needs to be done that day and then prioritize. It is important to stay ahead of the paperwork so I don’t get overwhelmed.

· Any other advice?
A: Exercise, take vitamins, and drink plenty of water. Stay healthy. When you get run down, you feel miserable and unhappy with yourself, your job, and others. Ask the students which teachers they like the best and then go observe these teachers. Ask other teachers who they think are the best and go observe these teachers. Both observations will help you see how other teachers do things and help you see strategies in action. Find a hobby outside of teaching so you can get some distance and perspective about your teaching. reading.

Do you have any other suggestions to any of the questions? Please share!

Image: 'Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! .....
Found on

1 comment:

Sioux said...

Teachers also have to take time out for themselves. If they don't have a life outside of the classroom, they won't be happy. Form a book or social club. Go to a play or dinner with a friend (it can be a teacher friend.)