What to do When a Student is Disrupting?

While my students are overall, pretty good kids, every now and then, I get one who can’t pay attention, disrupts, is rude, etc. Often, a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder can get my student back on track. However, sometimes, after a few reminders, it’s time to try something else.

Think sheets

My method involves removing the student from the room, and an assignment they won’t enjoy. First, I have a deal with the teacher next door to me that we send disruptive students to the other classroom. Although it seems like this would not bother them, it actually is one of the worst things you can do to a student! They really, really don’t like going to the other room. While there, they are expected to quietly complete their assignment (more on that in a moment) and return quickly to my class.

The assignment they are given is a “think sheet”. It’s basically a page of questions and paragraphs detailing what they did wrong and what they should do in the future. They copy the first few paragraphs, then complete one of their own. Since students don’t like to do this, they prefer to behave appropriately so they can avoid it.

The important part of this process is to prepare the class for this. I always explain that if a student is sent next door and he or she disrupts there, the office is the next step. Once sent to the office, the fact they disrupted two classrooms is not going to go well for them.

The think sheets cover the major types of discipline I encounter: Not Following Directions, Tardiness, Rudeness, Silliness, Talking. Generally, everything falls into one of those categories. I explain to the students that it is up to them to think about what they have been doing and which category would fit.

In addition, I have the think sheets in a folder in the back of the room. This makes it seamless for the students to pick up the think sheet on their way out the door. I have several think sheets, but I tell them that if they aren’t sure, they can always do “Not Following Directions” since being sent out means they were not following my direction (implied or stated outright).

At this point in the year, I rarely have to send a student next door. This method has served as a wonderful deterrent for their behavior. It also helps, in the rare cases that I do have to send a student to the office for misbehavior, I have already given them a step in between.

Student Goal Setting with Data

I’ve been using a new textbook this year that sets a high standard with the rigor of its text and tests. Each week, my students take a test over the skills and vocabulary they have been learning. So far, they’re not doing very well on these tests.

This is one filled out.  :)

This is one filled out. ūüôā

In an effort to improve their scores, I recently worked with them to examine their data and set a goal for future test scores. To introduce it, I explained my approach to goal setting. I’m a runner (a SLOW runner!) so I shared my goals with them. I also shared my action plan to meet those goals. The students were very excited to set their own goals and action plans after hearing about mine.

We also discussed making the goal realistic. If they are currently getting 30% on their tests, setting a goal to get 90% is probably not going to happen overnight. Using my running as an example, I pointed out that setting a goal to take 2 minutes off my mile in a month is just not realistic. Nice if it happens, but not likely. This seemed to make them feel better about the idea of setting a goal.

Then we discussed reasonable action steps to plan. I asked them to mark just one or two of the steps suggested. I also pointed out that completing all of their assignments and studying for spelling tests would not only help their test scores, but help their grade. (You’d think they could see that themselves, but they are sixth graders, after all!)

The action steps I suggested were designed to help them increase their reading comprehension skills and their word analysis skills. These are the two areas the class, as a whole, struggle with. Utilizing these steps will help them overall with their reading and word skills. Since the tests don’t cover specific content, but instead skills, these are steps that should help them overall.

I am very encouraged by the response I’ve had from this process. Many of the students immediately put their steps into action and were quite proud of themselves. As we’ve gone along, I’ve been sharing my successes and frustrations in running. They love hearing how I didn’t want to get out and run, but I had made a pledge, so I did. Sharing my work has been helpful in encouraging them to work towards their goals.

Weekly Test Score Goal for

I also asked them to have their parent sign the goal sheet. After explaining that this is not a case of “get them in trouble”, but more a need to keep their parents involved in their learning. The parents have been very receptive, as well. Many have written notes on the page sharing how they will help their child reach the goal.

When they take their next weekly test, we’ll graph the results and celebrate anyone who reached their goal. My plan is to give them a “goaled star” – get it? Gold/goaled! I crack me up!

How do you help your students improve?

We Have Good Kids

Every now and then, I’m reminded that, despite the little misbehaviors that our students exhibit, at the heart of it, they are good kids. ¬†It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day to day frustrations. ¬†The student who blurts out, the one who doesn’t turn in work, the gum chewer, the hallway runner. ¬†These are the things we spend time venting about in the teacher’s lounge.

However, when it comes right down to it, they are good kids. ¬†As my dad used to say: if that’s the worst you have to deal with, count yourself lucky!

Last week, my after school program group was practicing Christmas carols so they could go caroling at the care home next door.  These are at-risk students who voluntarily stay after school for 2 1/2 hours.  They are offered 3 enrichment time choices.  Almost half of the students chose to go Christmas caroling.  As I watched them sing together (off key, of course!), I realized they knew the words to all of the tunes РFrosty, Rudolph, yes, but also Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World.

The way they worked together, discussed which songs they might like to perform and helped each other work the karaoke machine was wonderful.  This was a demonstration of their innate goodness and willingness to cooperate.

It’s so easy to forget this when you are mired in the day to day craziness that is middle school. ¬†I’m glad that, every now and then, my children remind me why I went into teaching.