I Have Lost Control!

September 30, 2008 at 12:03 am 1 comment

lost controlIt is October! By now you know if you are in control. What do you do if you lost control? Regaining control is not easy but here’s a few suggestions for you try. It wouldn’t be easy and it wouldn’t be quick. After all you taught them to be the way they are in a month’s time. Be patient and remember they don’t hate you. You are just the enemy right now.

Regaining control requires a plan. Go home tonight with the idea that instead of nursing your headache and complaining about “these kids today,” pour yourself a good stiff drink. The choice is yours- wine, beer, whiskey, rum, tea, soda! Tell yourself you can do this! No more feeling sorry for yourself. You need confidence.

Make a quick analysis of problem areas. (You can’t just say everything and burst into tears)! Carefully consider each aspect of your overall classroom management program. It is not just the “discipline” concerns. Start with your routines. For example, how do you pupils enter the classroom and what is expected of them when they arrive? Do you have a bell ringer? A motivation activity? A series of instructions to follow to prepare for class? A surprise quiz announced with some clues to help prepare. If pupils are noisy from the start, most probably you have lost them from the beginning. Check all your routines. How can you improve them? What routines are working (Some are!)? Routine is necessary for classroom control.

The discipline plan is the overall conduct expectations. It is the rules and consequences in your classroom. If you have already made a set of rules and consequences, review them. I suggest no more than five rules to govern the classroom. There needs to be a hierarchal system of five consequences. And there needs to be individual and class rewards. Finally there needs to be system to keep track of pupils and their consequences. This discipline plan must be filled with expectation. It provides a plan that guarantees every child has an opportunity to learn without the disruption caused by a few. Most kids, hard to believe, really do want to learn. The discipline plan provides for that opportunity and you have to enforce that plan.

It is important to have a means of keeping track of the consequences for each pupil. Look around at different classrooms, you will see a range of schemes. Some have little trees for each kid with their name on it and three or four leaves on each. Leaves fall as a consequence is noted. Traffic signals with each child’s name with a marker moves from green to yellow to red! Easiest is a book card holder with kids name on it and index cards with the kids names on it. Three color cards, like the traffic signal, are markers of consequence level. Use a clip board with a class list and put a check mark next to the name each time a consequence is tagged. Use your imagination. Just be sure to diligently keep track. It is time consuming and a pain but with the effort you will discover it gets easier and easier. It also provides a basis for how you should start next year so that you wouldn’t have this problem again!

You have to be committed to your plan and you must follow through. If your consequence is a phone call home, you had better make that call! Do not make any threat unless you follow through with it. Be sure your consequences are sequential more punitive. Start with a warning and then a conference after class. (You can make it short but it clearly appears ominous to the class). The next level could be a note home or a call home. The finally consequence is a parent conference. Phone calls and conferences have definite impact on pupils. Parents, as much as they want communication, usually do not like phone calls and conferences. You need on emergency consequence. A student who is fighting, carrying a weapon, threatening another person, acting out of control must be removed- sent to the principal’s office.

Remember you must stick with your plan. What you say is the law. You can be as nice as you like outside the classroom but during class, you have a job to do. You are responsible to design a lesson plan, provide an opportunity for all pupils to learn, and to assess the work of your pupils.

A few reminders:

  • Never, ever raise your voice
  • Know each kids name! You should know them by now! You should able to look a kid in the eye and say their name.
  • Follow through with any consequence (it is also a learning experience: cause/effect)
  • Avoid confrontation in front of class. Ask pupil to come to the door or stand outside door while you stand at threshold. Now you have the advantage. He or she has lost her audience.
  • Try not to rely on the principal’s office except in emergencies. (THINK: This is my classroom and not the principal’s. I must establish control not the principal).
  • Be fair. What you expect of one expect of the other. (goose-gander).
  • Expect the very best behavior from everyone.
  • Avoid sarcasm! Kids just don’t get it.
  • Don’t be cruel. Do not mock or make fun of someone. Do not join in a laugh that berates a pupil or another teacher.
  • Be positive.
  • No one said it was easy but once you are in control, it is a very satisfying job.

Kids do not hate you. They look to you for stability and order. Provide that for them.

Wow! I bet you are at your third or fourth drink! I hope its Friday! Now that you have a plan, how are you going to put it into action. The following are purely opinion. They may or may not work . You kind of have to decide what best fits your personality and how deeply committed you are to surviving for the year. Adapt what I say to fit your plan. No one can solve your problem. At least it will you a framework upon which to build.

If it were me:

  1. Tomorrow I would write a lengthy assignment on the board . An assignment that they are expected to begin on it immediately and without talking. (Don’t worry about trying to teach. Survival requires that establish control). Stroll about reminding pupils to work on assignment. Have a checklist. Make notes. Kids will, of course, wonder what you are writing. NO SMILES NOW! Quietly say “I am calling home to offer a personal report to each parent.” Do raise your voice! I assure you word will get around. After five minutes or so, the class will be engrossed in their assignment. Now you can take the nitty-gritty: Take attendance, collect notes or lunch money or permission slips or whatever. Do not hide! Keep in the middle of your pupils. Walk around. Do not yell or scream or rant or rave- make it on you checklist and give them “the look.”
  2. As the assignment is finished, you need another assignment to start on. Maybe math? Write a page number and the problems to be done. Collect the assignment as they finish. Give a time limit. “You have five minutes!” Call an end when the five minutes are up.
  3. Teach the pupils how to quietly form a group of four or five. You assign the pupils. After explaining, ask them to move into their group. Tell them that the assignment is on the board (see below) and they should begin immediately. A grade will be given on how well the group works together based on completing the assignment in the time allowed. Again walk around. Compliment groups that working together. Help groups who are working very well with positive suggestions. Watch the time. Remind groups, not the whole class, that there are only five minutes left. Offer a reward (you could include that with the assignment on board). Candy, sucker, gum, sticker, homework pass, sit anywhere pass, “I can take a class period off to sit in back and read” pass, be the teacher for fifteen minutes pass make good rewards.
  4. As the time nears, stand at front of class and watch to see what group and who cooperates in return to their seats. Remember your clip board- make notes!
  5. Try to find a compliment to give. Joe’s group was the first to be in place followed by Mary’s group. Bobbie’s team seemed to work well exchanging ideas. Try to find something to be positive about. Even it’s the best dressed group was.
  6. With the class, use a large poster to list your rules and consequences. One rule should be a catch all- Do what you are told the first time. Your first consequence should be a warning. Listen to suggestions. Remind them that any comments should be done by raising your hand. If they shout out, mark down and quietly remind them to raise their hands. Don’t go one too long. The outcome should be your five rules and consequences. Allow the pupils to think they belong to their thinking. Teacher’s can manipulate wording to fit the desired outcome. List several rewards. After 15-20 minutes, try to have your rules and consequences established. Inform the class that they made the rules and now you expect they will live by them.
  7. It is time to move on. Proceed with your lesson plan. If you departmentalized or secondary school, its time for the next group. Be sure to keep track of rules and consequences.
  8. Make the phone calls home as soon as possible. Start that day. The call can be quite simple. “Hello. I am so-and-so, your son’s teacher. We have been in school for a month and I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that I am available Monday through Friday. If I am in class or a meeting, please leave a message and I will get back to you.” Important, you need something positive to say. “Billy is usually very polite and he has a charming smile. However, I have a concern about his shouting out in class. He is becoming a disruptive influence. I know if we work together, we can help Billy be the excellent student that he has the ability to be. I would appreciate if you could talk to Billy about the importance of classroom behavior and I will do the same on this end. Thanks so much for your help and I will contact you in a few weeks with an update.”
  9. Once you start the phone calls, word will spread quickly! Start with the biggest pains! Make sure you call the cute kid who is a joy in class and compliment the parents. It will do you good as well as the parents. It also let’s the class know that a positive reward call can be made. I would try to make several phone calls a day. You can call during your prep period, after school or in the evening.

If you remember to keep track of behavior over a period of time, it will give you a better handle on kids and it will help maintain control. Remember that none of the records, checklists, index card comments, etc, are permanent. They are temporary and destroyed at the end of the school year. Legal stuff!!

Good luck and hang in there. If you need help or a pep talk, feel free to email me at:



chalkboard w activity


Entry filed under: Classroom Management, Teachers.

Routine! Routine! Routine! October

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Cazare Prislop  |  June 19, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Cazare Sibiu Ieftina

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking
    forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

September 2008
« Jul   Oct »



%d bloggers like this: