Discipline and spanish children

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Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby Lindylou » 11 Jan 2007, 21:48

Hi everyone. :D I am native English and have just started teaching English at a private academy in Spain. I have a lot of successful adult and one-to-one teaching children experience. However, I am now teaching 2 children's classes. One class of 8 year olds and the other 10 year olds. All are spanish. Both classes have had a number of different teachers. I am appalled at their total lack of discipline. The school has a good reputation and the owner and staff are great. It seems the "norm" that the teachers are given the run around by noisy, unruly children. We follow a set teaching method (books) which leaves little time for my own in-put of ideas. It's all I can do to get through the topics for the hour long class! I am told that in spanish schools discipline is a problem. :? Anyone any experiences to share? Thanks in anticipation.
Remember, it takes a little rain as well as sunshine to make a rainbow.
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Unread postby ForumAngel » 01 Aug 2007, 14:56

Hi there,
Check out these ideas - I hope they are of some help. Certainly if the other teachers do not maintain discipline it makes it harder for you, but it can be done. I KNOW it can be done because when I was in school I was so naughty, (what a nightmare for the teachers) but there was ONE teacher with a reputation and I behaved with her! Now please don't think pupils should be afraid of you, of course not, but if there is no discipline in class then there is hardly any learning.

It is up to you to be firm so check out what options you have with the school regarding giving black marks or extra homework or staying late, after all the good old reward and punishment system goes a long way, it's just human nature.

Don't break your own rules by raising your voice to be heard. Instead talk quietly or stop and wait. Your class should know that for every minute you are kept waiting they will receive extra English homework, or whatever consequence you have designated.

Children love the sound of their own name more than anything else. So use an individual's name for praise and avoid using it when telling someone off.

Create teams and deduct or reward behavior points to a team's score during a game. Your class will respond naturally by using peer pressure to keep the naughty children from misbehaving.

Empower your children with choices. For example, ask a naughty child, "Do you want me to speak to your Dad?" By asking a question you give the child the power to choose, whereas if you use a threat such as, "I'll call your Dad if you don't behave", you take the initiative away and seem tyrannical.

You can also say things like, "you can either play the game properly or you can sit in the corner". The child will probably choose to play the game properly, and you make them responsible for their behaviour.

Prevention is better than cure, so try giving boisterous children an important task BEFORE they start to play up. They may respond well to the responsibility.

It is important, especially with a large class, to hand things out quickly or use a system to have this done, such as giving the well-behaved children the task as a reward. Sing a song together or do some counting or a quick game to occupy the class while materials are handed out.

Play a mystery game and, before you start your fun game say that during the activity you will be watching the whole class for 3 well-behaved children who will be rewarded.

Only play games where you know you can keep a handle on the situation. For example there is no point playing a boisterous game with a lot of movement if you have more than around 20 children. With large classes, including classes of up to 60 children, you need special games where the children have limited movement - such as standing up or making gestures but while remaining in their seats. You can sign up to receive free games in the resource box below, and some of the free games given out are suitable for very large classes.

Kind regards
Shelley Vernon

http://www.teachingenglishgames.com for free classroom games for 6 to 12 year olds

Also:
http://www.teachingenglishgames.com/3-5.htm for a free mini-series of games and an illustrated story for preschool children learning English
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Discipline and Spanish children

Unread postby elifedeos » 30 Nov 2007, 01:00

I sympathise with the poster. I am currently experiencing my own nightmare with discipline and Spanish children. I find the situation almost degrading, actually. The children can be so incredibly rude. I'm beginning to feel symptoms of burn out and it's only November. It's a drag to have to tell everyone to be quiet all the time, only to get part of the group quiet and then another part starts talking. It's doing my head in.

I was talking with a colleague tonight and we both agree that part of the problem is the way that we are trained to teach. There is the 'English only' and then, of course, we're supposed to be doing activities where the children are moving around, playing games, talking. They're supposed to get excited about English, be entertained. And that works great in the ideal class setting, but unfortunately I have had very few of those. Some kids see this as an opportunity to act out. They are quiet when they're sitting around doing 'fichas', but I don't think learning a language is about filling things in, especially when you're a child and you've got that great capacity for mimicking.

I generally feel that the subject of discipline is not satisfactorily dealt with during training or on any of the teaching jobs I've had. I would go so far as to say that it's an occupational hazard. This subject does not get the attention it deserves. It's almost ignored.

I really want my kids to learn but these discipline problems are a real obstacle.
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try penalties for naughty kids

Unread postby ForumAngel » 30 Nov 2007, 11:41

Hi there,

I read your reply and felt as if I was standing in your shoes!

With naughty kids like that, especially a bunch of spoilt brats, they just won't be able to play the games with too much movement, but there are plenty of games that can be played while students stay at their desks.

For a start all listening games can be played in total silence - after all they are listening games. Any pupil talking and bang, point deducted for his or her team. That will annoy the other pupils in the team so you get the help of peer pressure.

Then with the speaking games use the same policy, but start out with the listening games and hopefully the children will see how fun it is to learn like that and be more cooperative.

I do think the teacher's attitude has a lot to do with it though. Can you not give out detentions and use the dissuasive methods available at the school?

Kind regards
Shelley

http://www.teachingenglishgames.com
Classroom games for all ages.
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discipline

Unread postby elifedeos » 30 Nov 2007, 16:32

Thanks, Forum Angel.

I've gone to your page and signed up for your free games. Starting out with a listening game is a great idea. If only I don't have to scream to get them to settle down to explain it! Hopefully not.

I'd thought about the peer pressure thing myself, actually. I had an idea to put them on permanent teams and make the group responsible for the behavior of the individual, i.e. they would get stickers or stars or something for good behavior which would lead to a surprise for their team at the end of the month...something along those lines. Likewise, they'd get stars removed for anyone behaving badly in their group.

Obviously,I'm going to have to work on seating arrangements, too. I don't know!

I think this is such an important topic there could be a whole section on it. It's really difficult, especially when you don't have an administration apparatus behind you to back you up. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there with this problem, but I almost feel embarrassed at not being able to control my groups sometimes. I feel like such an unprofessional teacher. It's horrible.
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violence breeds violence

Unread postby ForumAngel » 02 Dec 2007, 12:06

Hi there again,

Well done for taking some steps to take things in hand.

In England we have an expression "violence breeds violence", and I believe that to be true. Therefore it would be logical that the more you shout at your class the more noisy they will be!

You set the example of how to behave, and not how not to behave.

Tempting though it is to shout at the little blighters, it's better to quietly dish out some severe punishments in line with school policy, such as missing breaks, staying after school and so on. You may have to do this at first while you establish yourself as the boss because so far the children know that THEY are the bosses, and can walk all over you, so you have to turn it around.

Talk to the other teachers who have your class, possibly sit in on a lesson or two of the teachers who are able to handle the class to see how they do it, and talk to the head.

It's OK having a weakness as a teacher, but it's not OK not to do your best to fix it - so I think you'll get a lot of support from your colleagues. I'm talking about how to handle the class better, not getting sympathy!

It would be great if you let us all know on the forum about how things go. As you say this is a big issue in modern times, especially in the west where children seem to be becoming more wild - and how come we didn't all have ADD when we were at school?

All the best
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby AloraAnn » 10 Feb 2008, 20:56

Hi Everyone
I have been teaching young learners for nearly four years, one to one. Since October 2007 I have been teaching in a spanish primary school. Children from 3 years to 13 years old. The classes are out of normal school hours and the parents only pay a nominal amount to send their children to class.
I feel that the parents use the classes as a cheap baby sitting service. I started with 50 children in various classes. Now I'm down to 20. Why? because I spend most of my time trying to get the attention of the naughty children. I intend to use some of the ideas put forward by members on this forum.
I have spoken with the teachers and head of school about the discipline or lack of discipline and I only get the same answer. No answer. The parents of some of my private students are teachers and don't have any answers on how to cope with the problems of discipline. It's the norm..
My friends ask me why I keep doing it. The answer, I love it. When a three year old says 'Bye Bye, see you soon'. Its melts me into submission.
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby matthewriddell » 23 Feb 2008, 23:06

Hi everyone,

I can sympathise with you all!! I have previously had to teach classes of 64 and 80, and the age and ability range was massive- the oldest lad that I taught was 18 (same age as me then), and some of the kids couldn't grasp what was happening in the class that quickly, whereas, other pupils were finishing tasks pretty quickly. That meant that I had to come up with extra exercises on the spur of the moment. The larger class of the 2 were known for their misbehaviour, there were plenty of times when I just felt like bashing my head against a wall as it was getting into a vicious circle. On top of this, in Zambia, where I was teaching, they still use corporal punnishment, so my style of getting the class to calm down wasn't that effective, as most of the trouble makers were thinking 'I am getting away with this, so I will carry on'.
Plus, I was also going to a welfare pre-school 3 times a week in the afternoon. The youngest child was 2, and the oldest was 7, the first 27 minutes were generally OK, but after that, chaos soon spread out. It didn't really help though where I was playing games, singing songs etc. with the kids. To start off with, I was given about 40/50 kids, but as the afternoon wore on, more and more kids were coming in, until there were 124, leaving just me to control all of these kids. Most of the children didn't really speak that much English, and even then it was broken English, so when I was telling them all to sit on the floor or to be quiet, they had no idea what I was saying.
But yet, I got a lot of the experience despite all of the misbehaviour, but it would be nice for a change to be able to control all of the children!
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby Guillermo » 17 Mar 2008, 18:23

Well this is something I can really relate too...
I know that as teachers we try to encourage our students to work hard and make their best effort, but with children sometimes you have to discourage them to misbehave.
In my experience, children are sometimes more aware of the approval of their own classmates than that of the teacher. So I use subtle "psycodiscipline" techniques.

For example: the typical minus one (-1) to all the class for every act of misbehaving must always have a name, that is, telling the class who is responsible for the class' loss of score, and do this repeatedly until it's not you but the class who asks for discipline from the student. Write the minuses on the board so they are a present element in the classroom. Now here comes the fun part: you will "erase" one minus for every good work or task they do in group, so you will get discipline AND a hardworking class as long as you're firm with this method
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby polly » 22 Mar 2008, 19:50

Hello

I have just moved to Madrid to teach English and have got a job very quickly as the director of an academy was in a bind. She told me we will be following books and i will not need to make lesson plans, which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I am to turn up an hour before i have to teach to look over what i will be teaching that evening. The class are beginner children and i am very worried i will have trouble controlling the class as i don´t speak any Spanish. Does any one have any tips, after hearing all these comments I'm really worried i´ll hate it and get on a flight back home as I'm not enjoying Madrid all that much either. Any advice?

Polly
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby obatala » 26 Mar 2008, 01:56

Instead of telling off them, praise the positive attitudes with something material such as candies or extra points. I did it long time ago and it worked, I don’t teach children anymore only adolescents …better?
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby D_77 » 17 Apr 2008, 22:39

Hello everyone,
I can relate to you all. I have been teaching English in Spain for 5 yrs. Although many of my classes are one on one. I have worked with groups and classes with Latin students, Spanish, Puerto Rican and it has been tough! I have learned that it´s all psychology! First day of class meet the students try to get to know what their attitudes are like, so you know who will behave and who won´t. It is very important to be spontaneous in a classroom, if one thing isn´t working you have to switch to another. I normally ask each student about things that interest them. e.g. what are their hobbies, what type of music do they like, etc. This information helps me make my lesson plans so that the students are entertained and learning. Key! When they see the teacher is doing something right, they approve of you and they automatically behave. It´s really all about psychology and being spontaneous, and firm. I have to say it might also be my personality because I´m very quick and when I was a kid quite naughty. I think this helps me a lot now being a teacher. When I had an intelligent teacher, I respected him or her. When a child thinks the teacher is a push over or thinks the teacher doesn´t know what they´re doing --they will challenge you and you have to be ready with the answers and throw questions back at them, they´re looking for a challenge too. Sometimes they are very bright --they´re just bored. There is a very big social problem in the Spanish society, too complex to explain or go into right now. I just know that they are not educating the children at home as they should. Some parents are strict and expect too much from their children. Most of my students have two private English classes a week, 2 music lessons, swimming, etc. and on top of it all they have to do the tons of homework they are assigned each day. The children are basically stressed out. So any chance they get to take over the classroom and just let loose --their going to do it! It´s a challenge to teach in Spain. In the classroom I use points, they get a little something nice at the end of the term. We watch films that they´ve chosen. We play games with teams. When they behave and we are having fun we have snacks in the class, etc. just some ideas --it works with the Spanish kids. Good luck to everyone out there teaching in Spain and all over the globe! D_77
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby MissD » 16 Apr 2009, 12:51

I´ve just started to teach literacy to children and support the teacher in a nursery school two days a week, aged 4 to 5. They behave very well most of the time because the teacher has laid down rules and has a red / green mark system on the wall for good and bad behaviour. I´ve only been there a few weeks and have no previous teaching experience. I really enjoy it and do the best I can, even doing extra unpaid work at home to prepare things to help the children with their reading. This week I was asked at the last minute to help out with the younger children because their teacher was off sick. The director phoned me at home and I had 45 minutes notice. It was a total nightmare. Never mind losing control of the class, I never gained control. When I walked in to take over from the director who was covering until I arrived they were all sitting in a circle singing a song and really behaving themselves. Then she handed over to me and left for the rest of the day. I had about 15 kids, from 1 to 3 years old. The director told me I would only be on my own for about 2 minutes because one of the other teachers would be coming to help me. Yeah right. She never appeared. I was on my own for three and a half hours. I started to read a story and after 2 minutes I had 2 children left sitting on the floor with me. The rest all broke up into little groups, shouting, fighting, playing, screaming, crying. I did everything I could possibly think of to bring the class back under control, all the techniques under the sun, but nothing worked. After 45 minutes, the older children joined the class so then I had 30 children aged 1 to 5. What a nightmare. The noise was incredible, there were toys all over the floor, books all over the floor, kids screaming, shouting, crying, fighting, climbing on furniture. I tried to get the older children to help me with the younger ones, to calm them down and try to get some order so I could read stories, sing songs etc, but even the older children refused point blank to stop what they were doing. It was total mayhem. Occasionally the supervisor, who was busy preparing lunch for some of the children, popped in and said things like, "What a mess" and "What a noise" or told some of the children off and said things like "Susan (their teacher) doesn´t allow them to do that". It was hell. I don´t know why the other staff left me totally alone, they knew I was struggling, that I was new and the children were playing up but they did nothing. It not as if I´m a threat to them, they all have contracts, I´m not going to take their jobs. I only work there part time and I was only there to do the extra hours to help them out as a favour. I felt as if it was my initiation. I went home exhausted and totally stressed out.
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby redgirl » 05 Jun 2009, 16:13

I was very glad to read this thread as my experience exactly mirrored that of Lindylou.

There are only seven 8 year-olds in my group of Spanish learners and although they're not bad kids, they're very boistrous and get out of hand very quickly. After the first class that felt like it bordered on a riot at times, I was thoroughly rinsed out and despondent.

But after climbing out of the depths of despair, I put into action various suggestions from this forum and elsewhere and am glad to report the complete transformation of the class.

Here's what I did:

*first, mixed up the seating so kids that egged each other on weren't next to each other.

*second, made ten marks on the board (the children counted) and explained that every incidence of bad behaviour or speaking in Spanish would result in a mark being erased. If there were no marks left at the end of the lesson, nobody in the class would receive a sticker (their previous teacher gave them stickers to put on their folders at the end of each class and I continued the practice) - the effect this information had on the class was dramatic (and it gave them exposure to the future condition!!)

*third, refused to accept any class contributions without the children raising a hand first - yes, we want them to talk, but not all at once shouting!

*fourth, mixed up activities in terms of "warmers" and "coolers" - my first lesson had too many of the former and not enough of the latter. This time we did book work together, then stood up for a quick fun game, then sat back down for some controlled speaking practice.

*fifth, every activity became a competition - using a grid, the teams could choose squares for tic-tac-toe as they fulfilled each controlled oral task correctly. This kept them highly focused on successfully completing each activity.

*sixth, the power of the picture book! Having the children describe pictures in a short textbook comic strip, then copying the phrases I modelled (using various silly voices) then allocating them roles to join in a read-around was hugely popular and also kept them very focused.

*seventh, all breaches of the rules were met with a polite but firm "sit down, please", "be quiet now, please," and lots of name-using (thanks Shelley!) during praise. The one transgression that had me reaching for my board erasure met with such a firm telling off for the culprit from his classmates that he immediately behaved himself again. Yep, peer pressure definitely helped there.

Results: a calm, well-ordered class where some actual learning took place. Most importantly, I'm pretty certain the kids enjoyed the experience a whole lot more and I certainly did. I'm sure we will have good days and bad days, but a big THANK YOU to all those who took the time to post tips - a life-saver.

PS Shelley - some great game ideas, I think I may just have to invest in your book...
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Re: Discipline and spanish children

Unread postby RuthB » 03 Nov 2009, 07:59

Hi, i've taught mostly students from Mexico and the Philipines, along with various Asian countries, all in US schools since 1997. There are a few things I will add that I didn't see in other replies.

One, and this is just totally overlooked, is that in Latin culture in general, authority is not something you simply toss aside. Native Spanish speaking teachers (I am not native) understand this and are quite adept at stepping into the classroom as a true authority figure. And they maintain it. The pace of instruction is tight, almost rhythmical. There might be call and response, that sort of thing. Students call the teacher Mr. and Mrs. and while speaking in Spanish they use the formal tense. All this underlies who's who.

For a native Californian, my style is much more, let's have FUN! Which works as long as we're doing what THEY call fun. As soon as it becomes work, I used to lose them. It is hard at this point in the game, but you must try to win them back to a sense of Big Teacher, students. That distance is very crucial and for them - normal. Even in my exhusband's family in rural Mexico, they'd use the formal tense when speaking with the OWN PARENTS! You might start with games or something or a drill that requires you to be more authoritarian. It is hard, because we aren't taught that approach is OK, at least in the US. If you can do a drill, pointing and insisting they wait their turn, relying on you to determine who goes next, etc. you'll have them in your hand.

Also, consistently walk in a very dignified and authoritarian manner. Dress formally - skirt and jacket etc. Practice your "Teacher Stare" and the pregnant pause.

Also be sensitive that in Spanish-speaking countries, group work can be great as they do not like being called if they don't know the answer and it drove me nuts the first two years when i found they wouldn't know the answer, but they'd never say, "Uh, I dunno." I figured this was normal. For them, it's like public humiliation. Stand nearby, call on Juan, give a good paced pause, move on the Concha, etc. You can go back to Juan to make sure you didn't lose him afterwords and he and the others know they are accountable for knowing - eventually.
HOpe that helps!
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