What support, if any, is available in the school?
Hello everyone. This is my first time posting, so I hope I can get some help. I'm an Engish teacher at a private school in Zhengzhou China and I teach children from the ages of 2-5. I understand the principles at work as regards introducing languages to children this young...I am not teaching, so much as playing and encouraging English usage. It's not formal instruction, but graduate development. That being said, I am having a terrible time with one class where I feel like pulling my hair out. I have taken over for another teacher who has gone home unexpectedly because of health reasons. This teacher also replaced another teacher who left abruptly about six months before she left me in charge. I teach these children for a half day, 2 1/2 hour period, wherein they recieve a bassic lesson which involves a story and an activity, with lots of play time and interaction.
This one class is incredibly badly behaved. Many of them throw, hit, scream, cry and run around or specifically, away, when I attempt to bring them over to have their snack/lunch/water break. Some cry very easily and whatever I do to try and help doesn't work. One child, Sarah is her English name, does have social issues with other children and often plays by herself or cries when she wants to play with other children and they ignore her. As you can guess, this results in crying and wailing. Today drove me to the breaking point wherein an activity was completely a bust becuase one child decided to reach across the table and ri[ up some others cut outs. I am good at maintaining my composure in class, but I tell ya, I can't wait to go back to my classes in September. Does anyone have some ideas for me? I'm really at the end of my rope here.
Frustrated in China
What support, if any, is available in the school?
I teach with a Chinese, English speaking co-teacher. Other then that, real physical support is not there. Administration is also helpful at times, if only to give some advice. Beyond that, it's only the English speaking co-teacher and the Chinese co-teacher in the class. The three of us will have a meeting tomorrow afternoon, but like I said, I'm at my wits end of what to do. I know that change doesn't come easy, but lord, this seems ridiculous. Ay ideas?
"momma always told me there would be days like this!"
hang in there!
it sounds like a large group. teaching different ages all together is really hard at that age. i would ask if you could break them up into 2-3 and 4-5. if that doesn't work...
sing and dance! try to get some instruments for them to bang on, but if you can't, go with the table, clapping and patting their laps.
at that age, their attention span is super short. try to break everything up into small 10 minute activities. bring a box of tricks for when things get tough (playdough, stickers, plastic figurines, etc.)
All really good suggestions, thank you. What am I to do about the students who are A)asserting their independence and saying no to everything, especially when it's lunch time b) the child who everyone else seems to not want to play with or pick on.
I had some problems with bad behaviour when I first started teaching kids. Some lessons I learned:
-You might have to tear up your usual teaching plan. Some kids/groups don't like songs. Some don't like certain games, or even types of games. For a couple of my classes, I had to throw away the lesson-plan template I was using for the other kids. Once I stopped trying to force a plan on the kids, it was easier to build something up that they enjoyed.
-Compile a list of games specifically for that class. Always be thinking of new ones. Kids who are two and three years old often won't have anything like a ten-minute attention span. It might be three minutes. But the secret is that even small variations on the same activity can sometimes have your kids re-captivated. Have plenty of props. Be over-prepared. 150 minutes is a long time for young kids. Again, you need variety. Switch between active, energetic activities and quieter ones.
-Be flexible: if the students are really enjoying a game, don't rush them into the next activity. Be flexible about break times, too. If your students aren't ready for a break when you call for one, just do another activity first. Make it an energetic one, and the kids should need no encouragement to have a drink/snack/rest.
-A good start to the lesson can do a lot to bring about the kind of atmosphere you're looking for. Conversely, sometimes a bad start can make a whole lesson difficult to manage. Think about activities that get the class started the way you want it to continue.
-Think about how you can use their bad behaviours to the lesson's advantage. You say they "throw, hit, scream, cry and run around". So, for example, play games where your students have to throw something (soft and harmless) at a target, into a basket, etc.
Sometimes, bad behaviour comes about when too much energy is confined. Running around is a prime example. Use the energy already in the kids. Set up games that involve running. For example, put big coloured blobs of laminated paper on a wall. Have all the kids stand at the opposite wall. When you name a color, they have to race to touch it.
-Watch your students closely and you'll see that they're constantly inventing games. When they come up with a game, use it. It takes the pressure off you to come up with all the entertainment, for one thing. But it also makes it much easier to keep everyone involved and happy. I had some boys who would sometimes just refuse to do the activities I was trying to set up. When I let them make up the games, or when we did it together, they became perfectly-behaved students. If kids assert their independence, give them more responsibility: switch from giving them orders to letting them make some decisions.
-As for the kid who no one wants to play with, don't let anyone pick on her. Give her plenty of praise when she does something well. Try some team activities. Getting the kids working together on something might help. If certain kids always win/lose, make sure activities have an element of randomness that doesn't detract from the fun. Find activities that the girl is good at. You might have to be on her team sometimes.
-Speak with the manager of the school. If she's getting picked on, have someone in administration or the native teacher speak with the offending kids. Talk with their parents if things don't change. Generally, when it comes to discipline, bad behaviour cannot be allowed; but it's really through positive techniques applied consistently over time that you will build better relationships with your kids and better behaviour in your class.
Last edited by rx-f; 09-Jul-2010 at 00:49.
Those are great answers!
With my kindergarten class I find that doing something unexpected really captures their attention. For example, we had sung 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' a few times - either standing or sitting in a circle. One day when a group of boys was very wild, I lay down on my back and sang the song from that position. They were captivated and joined me on the floor very quickly, singing enthusiastically as they tried to touch their toes while they were prone on the ground (gave me a good work-out, I can tell you!).
Also - I have used the Eric Carl book 'From head to toe' very successfully - small children love the actions.
One of your problems may be the huge developmental difference between two-year-olds and five-year-olds. If possible, I would divide the group into two. Set a task for the older children while you do something with the younger children. Maybe your classroom assistant could monitor the one group while you work with the other?
Last edited by megsvg; 14-Jul-2010 at 15:06. Reason: oops - full of typos
I can 100% relate to your situation.
I've taught my share of kids (in Japan) and at first I was friendly and fun. This works with a lot of kids, smaller groups especially. Now and then, though, it's rough, you get one group and you really just want them to be your little buddies and everyone gets along and all that jazz.
Here's my advice, lay down the law, yell. Honest to God let out a very frightening yell, nothing profane but at least a giant HEY!! SIT DOWN! NOW!
You've GOT to be the mean teacher, let them get upset at you for ruining their fun, it's fine.
With about 85% of my kids classes I never need to do this, but whenever I get a spoiled brat, I let him have it, and it rarely has to happen twice.
Don't be afraid of them hating you, once they're in line and things are on your terms, controlled fun can go a long way for making them forget you busted their ear drums!
It also sounds like the two teachers before you were softies and couldn't handle the stress of being walked over by a group of kids. If this is the case, then you have NO reason to hold back as I'm sure everyone else involved in the situation is aware of it.
If you do feel concerned about it, let the local staff inform the parents that you're going to make things a little more strict when they get out of line, I assure you the parents would only be asking why you didn't do it sooner.
Some of the parents of the children I've taught even told me to hit their kids when they were behaving badly, in my opinion that's out of line for a teacher (despite having been nearly beat to death myself as a student haha).
But yes, honestly, you aren't their friend, you're their teacher, controlled fun.
About controlled fun: whatever it is that they like, even if it belongs to them and not the school, take it away, confiscate it, until behaviour is better.
This is the best advice I can give from my experiences at my own school.
English Teacher, School Owner, realize-english.com