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kalrbing's avatar

Tips for teaching in an Urban classroom?

Asked by kalrbing (226 points ) March 27th, 2011

I’ve finally landed my first teaching position. It will finish out the school year. My first concern is that I have 8th graders. With 8th graders, they have had spring break and already registered for high school. My thought is Middle school will be a joke to them, at this point. Second, it is in Memphis. I am not from the country, but my town isn’t quite as big as Memphis. I know this atmosphere will be something new for me, and I will have challenges.
Does anyone, preferably an educator or parent, have any tips on making sure the kids know that I mean business from the start? This is a tough situation, considering the point in the year that I am coming to them, but I am an optimist. So, I figure, if I get a few tips and use some trial and error, I’ll make it through the 2 months at least. One plus it that the administrators seem to take no prisoners, so I’ll have good back up.
I am a nice and positive person, but I’ve been told to put that away for a bit, to make sure they don’t take me as a joke. I truly understand that, but how soon can I come out of my shell? I learned a lot in school, through observations, and students teaching, but it is a bit different when you get your own class and you’re on your own.

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10 Answers

optimisticpessimist's avatar

Plan your classroom rules in advance and make sure you stick to them. Be firm, but do not yell. Kids will test you, but stay firm and positive. My kids do not respect teachers who yell and lose their temper especially when they cuss because it shows weakness (even if my kids could not explain that to you.) If you start bending rules or go in with no rules, the kids will take advantage of it. If you have had a teacher you worked with that seemed to have a really good set of classroom rules, use them. You can adapt them during the summer if you need to for the following school year.

kalrbing's avatar

Thank you SO much @optimisticpessimist . I will definately do this. I have been substitute teaching since February and the no yelling thing is something that I tell every class that I go in. I always explain, I will not yell at you, but I will expect you to do what you are supposed to do. I never realized kids respected that :-). I have a few teachers in mind that I’ll speak to , as well

optimisticpessimist's avatar

You are welcome and good luck! Sometimes really good teachers are hard to come by but it sounds as if that is what you want to be.

I can tell you they do not respect the yelling because my son (16) will joke about teachers yelling and I think it kind of becomes a competition to see if they can get a teacher to lose composure. My daughter (14) is more sensitive and until recently she just hated the yelling, now it has become a joking matter to her. The cussing along with the yelling means the teacher has really ‘lost it’ and any respect is gone particularly as the kids are expected not to cuss.

Abroadbent's avatar

Negotiate the classroom rules with the kids. Be polite and expect politeness back. Don’t accept rudeness between the kids either. Everyone needs to feel safe in your classroom. If a kid does the wrong thing and you call them on it and some other kids join in, ask the original kid to leave the room so that you can talk to them outside. Be consistant, kids like predictable. Dont threaten without following up… contact the parents early if there is a problem. Try and contact the parents early for a positive thing especially with kids that you think may becomre difficult later. Be yourself… kids are the best bull dust detectors there are!

kalrbing's avatar

@Abroadbent , I appreciate that answer. My biggest concern has been whether I could be myself. So many peole have to me to go in as mean as possible and I’ll come out great. I’m a good natured person. I know where to draw the line between teacher and friend and I am also aware that I should be firm and consistent, but I just cannot see myself being the drill sergeant type. I’m fun and respectful. I want my biggest class rule to be “Respect others as you want to be respected”, followed up by “Act your age and you will be treated that way”. So many people have told me that I should not care whether the kids like me or not…I know, personally, that I cannot be receptive to someone who I dislike. This turned me to the conclusion that, it truly matters if they like you. @optimisticpessimist and @Abroadbent , I do not think you all realize how much your comments have meant to me. I feel so relieved with the answers that you have given me.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think the respect others as you want to be respected is great. Considering the age of the students, they should have this pretty well defined. However, it would probably be helpful to have a discussion on what the action of respecting others looks like. You could ask them for their opinions and examples of respect in action like, do not talk when others are speaking.

captainsmooth's avatar

I work in an urban school district. If you aren’t stern, the kids will be all over you. I see it everyday.

The first day, make sure you show them how to walk in line, walk into the room, sit at their desks. That will set the tone.

Don’t count on your respect getting returned until the kids know you are in charge. Once you have established that, you can start working with them on a different level.

captainsmooth's avatar

Whoops, you started a year and a half ago. Hope it is all working out well.

kalrbing's avatar

Haven’t been on here in a while. I am almost done with my second full year of teaching. I only spent those few months in Memphis. I went to a smaller town, with just as many behavior issues. My first full year was rough. I had all girls. I have learned from mistakes, though. This school year has been far from perfect, but I am starting to get the hang of it. Even though my classroom management is a bit inconsistent, I know exactly what I will do day 1 for this coming August. It is embarrassing still having classroom management issues in my second year, but I guess all that matters is that I figure it out. I expect growth on my state test scores. Despite my terrible classroom management last year, my students showed growth, so I can hopefully have more impact this year. Scores will be in by the end of May. I know it has been a while, but I wanted you all to see how I was doing. i also hoped that some young upcoming teacher could see my struggle turn into triumph.

snowberry's avatar

I suggest you ask your principal to pair you with another experienced teacher, one who is willing to act as a mentor. It’s the best possible scenario, and you may even be able to play off of each other’s lesson plans, as well as support each other in a myriad of other ways. This is what my daughter’s principal did, and now those two are fast friends, still supporting each other 3 years later.

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