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#16 Helen S

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 09:54 PM

I shall also alter the layout

its rows at the moment,

i think i'll go for a paired seating arrangement for starters

Hel :crazy:
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. Wells

#17 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 11:47 PM

Words of wisdom here - to which I can add little except to concur with what has been said about your classroom being like your home and that you lay down the rules.

I used to have rows of desks in pairs and arrange the kids much like Richard, but whenever I had an A Level group of less than 12 had them 'trained' to reorganise quickly one half of the room into a horseshoe.

I think if you are not terribly confident and especially in a new post the paired desks arrangement is easier to control. Rows of paired desks are also easy to arrange into blocks of 4 for group work. You can always reorganise the room later in the year if you wish.

#18 Anne Piper

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 07:47 AM

Unfortunately classroom layout is often dictated by the room. My classroom also doubles up as a corridor for staff wishing to get from one history room to another. I have split my desks/tables into two halves. On one side I have arranged them in an E shape (with lots of bars!) to allow staff to walk behind pupils, and on the other in rows of 4 (there isn't room to mirror the E). I will have to see how it works in practice, but it is useful to know how other teachers manage their space.
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#19 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 09:20 AM

I also go with the mirrored E.

Great for getting to any student very quickly as there's loads of space in the middle. VERY adaptable for group work as you only need to get a student to about turn rather than humping desks around. I'm fortunate to have a large room anyway so there's a large space near the front in which small scale roleplays etc can be conducted.

I used to do very formal seating plans for every groyup and do think that it's an extremely important classroom management tool for new teachers. Now I tend to give students a choice about where they sit and use this as part of my statement about expectations at the start of the year. Basically they can sit where they want so long as I don't have to remind them what they are in the room for. The second 'reminder' alters their freedom to pick where they sit - the fact that being moved will impact on other students 'choice' about where they sit makes pretty good use of peer pressure as well. I wouldn't suggest an NQT uses that method though, it works for me as I've been there for too long and all of the kids know that I'm a grumpy so and so at the best of times.

#20 georginadunn

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 08:23 PM

Classroom not big enough for horseshoe idea so had classes in rows. In my first year it was all pairs, in my second, rows of four with a break in the middle. All pupils sit boy/girl numbers depending and I have a seating plan to refer to when they decide to swop around and think I won't notice! I always let KS4 sit where they choose on the condition that they stay there during every lesson. It's def not 'pc' but in some of my smaller classes we had enough room to keep the four front row seats free, so they became the 'naughty table' - those that misbehaved had to move to the very front and just the mention of this was enough to enable good behaviour, particularly from the rowdiest of year 8 pupils.

On a similar note, I had my form sit boy/girl in year 8 but let them choose in year 9 to sit either boy/girl in form or assembly. They chose assembly and even if I am blowing my own trumpet, I had the best behaved form in assemblies out of the whole of year 9, mainly I believe down to this.
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#21 Helen S

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 09:33 PM

Be proud of me!...............

I've arranged m desks in pairs, ready for Tuesday!!!!

Lets hope it helps!!!!


Helen
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. Wells

#22 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 09:37 PM

Be proud of me!...............

We are :teacher:

Don't forget to make a seating plan and put the kids where YOU want them too.

#23 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 28 August 2003 - 08:06 AM

I've merged the Classroom organisation thread and Controlling difficult classes threads.

An additional thought to add:

Have monitors who will distribute resources and collect them in. Train them to put them away properley - saves ages in the longer term (and it's amazing how badly a set of books can be put on a shelf if they haven't been shown how to do it! If you teach in your own form room assign one or two members of you class to do a quick tidy up of books at the beginning / end of every day.

#24 John Simkin

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 09:04 AM

I think that seating plans and desk organisation is one of the keys to a successful classroom. I often find that teachers in my school who are having lots of trouble have no sense of organisation to their classroom. They just let the kids sit wherever they like, and even move from lesson to lesson.

I have always been in favour of the horse shoe classroom layout for ideological reasons. The traditional classroom of desks in lines and facing the front provides the wrong message about the nature of education. The best thing about the horse shoe layout is that it maximises the face to face contact with other students. This is especially important when the students are expressing their own views and are involved in a historical debate.

When I was training to be a teacher I rejected the idea of deciding where the students should sit at the beginning of term (I also rejected the advice of not smiling at the students until Christmas). This decision was based on my experience of being a pupil and the research I carried out while doing my PGCE (I interviewed a large number of students about their perceptions of the schooling process).

Students of course dislike the idea of being told where to sit. My main objective as a teacher was to get the students to look forward to entering my classroom. I did not want to do anything that would undermine this objective.

My approach was that the students have the freedom to decide where to sit at the beginning of the term. However, I told them that if the position where they were sitting interfered with their education (or other student’s education) they would be moved. During the year very few students got moved. In most cases, the classes remained in the same position throughout the year.

I remember an incident when I was at school about seating arrangement. Our French teacher said the next person who spoke when he was speaking would be caned. It was me and I was called to the front of the class and told me to put my hand out. (They could do things like that in the 1950s). He got out his cane and just before he brought it down on my outstretched hand he stopped and said: “I’ve just thought of a better punishment than this. The only way to stop you talking is to make you sit with the girls for the rest of the year.” (In virtually every class the boys would be on one side of the room and the girls on the other).

The strategy did not work and I continued to talk to my neighbours. However, the teacher’s decision did change my personality. I found I enjoyed talking to girls more than boys.

#25 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 09:37 AM

When I was training to be a teacher I rejected the idea of deciding where the students should sit at the beginning of term (I also rejected the advice of not smiling at the students until Christmas). This decision was based on my experience of being a pupil and the research I carried out while doing my PGCE (I interviewed a large number of students about their perceptions of the schooling process).

Students of course dislike the idea of being told where to sit. My main objective as a teacher was to get the students to look forward to entering my classroom. I did not want to do anything that would undermine this objective.

My approach was that the students have the freedom to decide where to sit at the beginning of the term. However, I told them that if the position where they were sitting interfered with their education (or other student’s education) they would be moved. During the year very few students got moved. In most cases, the classes remained in the same position throughout the year.


John's quite right in saying that many students don't like being moved awa from their friends.

For the benefit of new members to the profession and any people about to embark on a PGCE course I'll add the following points:

This approach is as valid as the seating plan if several things are in place. If you let students sit where they want they need to have a very clear understanding of what the rules are; what you consider to be acceptable and unacceptable within the classroom and what the positive outcomes of them sitting with friends should be in terms of quality of work produced.

Allowing students to decide where they want to sit, and then fixing this as the seating plan, is quite a powerful tool in many situations. A quick reminder that they will be moved away from their friends if they continue doing whatever can be enough to dissuade low level poor behaviour. The success of this approach really will be down to the way in which you make your expectations clear to a class and the manner in which you deal with the first few instances of low level disuption. Sort them out quickly, fairly and firmly and a very positive working atmosphere will be established quickly.

An alternative that is suggested by some INSET providers is to rotate the seating arrangements. The idea here is that if students are working in groups with their friends all of the time they will not develop their communication skills as well as they might if they were working with people with whom they'd not usually opt to work with.

#26 moe_uk_2002

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 11:25 PM

I have found this thread very interesting and it has provided me with many points to consider when I start my first teaching post as an NQT next week. I am very interested in the effect that seating arrangements can have upon pupil behaviour, I would like to start with a traditional seating plan (all facing the front in pairs) but as a student/pupil I was always happiest when in a class with horse shoe arrangement so I would like to experiment with that in time.

However, my main concern is that, as yet, it is still undecided as to whether I will have my own classroom and I may have to teach in different rooms around the school, this is due to space restrictions in the school (and I soooo wanted my 'own' room! Visions of using ideas for wonderful displays of my pupils' work are fading away......sob sob!) I have visions of arriving at the wrong room laden down with texts that have to be returned to the history store room after each period, and then having to grab the next set of texts and find the next class room!

As for allowing pupils to decide where they sit - this will not be an option as the school policy is to sit boy/girl in alphabetical order (although obviously exceptions are made when pupils are moved due to behaviour problems). Given the choice I would start with this system anyway as an NQT and possibly allow pupils to move in time when I know the classes better and when I have more confidence.

Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for such an interesting and informative thread. :)

#27 Anne Piper

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 04:52 PM

I have revisited this post following a particualrly nasty two lessons over two days with a year 10 class. Today they finally succeeded in reducing me to tears. I cna honestly say that I have never felt so abused by a bunch of school kids as I did today.

I am not the only teacher who has problems with this particular group and I am aware that they were also difficult as year 9s. However, this is not much consolation at the moment.

I teach this class twice a fortnight GCSE Britain 1906-18, and we are currently studying Liberal refoms. The class is made up of about 20 less able students, some of who have EBD. I have had problems from the first lesson (todays was lesson 4) with behaviour. They won't listen, stay in their seats, stand at the beginning of lesson (as they are supposed), they use inappropriate language, and don't care about 'consequences'.

Yesterday, I had planned an activity that I thought would appeal to them, a card sort based on the reasons for reform, which we could also use to place the relevant factors into political, economic and social elements. This was a total failure. Only one group managed to match each factor to its relevant examples, and then they refused to write them in their books. The rest simply refused to even try! I ended up with 5 pupils out of the lesson working in other rooms.

Today, I felt a drop in confidence. I didn't have the energy to try and encourage them to take an active role in the lesson, so I got them to copy from the text! This was a bit of a cop-out I know, but I am so worried that they will not have enough information to get through the GCSE. Two lads were whistling(not a tune-more of a cat-call) I asked them to stop, one did the other didn't. It was the kind of whistle that completely undermines a teacher's authority(loud and piercing) This was on top of the class continuing to argue that the lesson was boring, they wanted to do geography, I was a rubbish teacher, wandering around the room, arguing, kicking the furniture etc. And I know it was boring, but to be honest I didn't know how else to get the information down. At least they were quieter than the previous day. The lad who was given a detention, he continued whistling, so I wanted to extend his detention. He had ripped the dt pages from his diary to avoid the dt I had just given him. He refused to return the ripped out pages and told nme to stick it up my a**e! The rest of the class were laughing at me.

Sadly this is not all. Because of their appalling behaviut the previous lesson, the deputy was called in. He gave 12 of them a dt for this evening. One lads gave me a letter from his mother saying he wouldn't be doing the dt. It also said that I was a bad teacher and had no business being in a nice school like this one. If I couldn't control a class I shouldn't be doing the job and the school should get rid of me Naturally he took great pleasure in showig the rest of the class.

My confidence has been severly dented by this, and I don't know what to do next. My HOD and the SMT lot have been great, really supportive, but I really need some advice on how to handle this bunch. I re-read the original posting on this thread and thought I might try offering a 10 minute treat at the end of the lesson, like watching a film with time taken off (and later added) for behaviour issues. I did try to tempt them with the possibilty of making a film about suffragettes, but I think the reward has to be more immediate it it is to be effective.

I am sorry this is such a ramble, but I am still quite upset by today. No other class gives me the trouble these pupils do, and I don't want to have to go through another lesson like today with them. Other classes seem to enjoy their lessons, and I want this group to as well, but I am reluctant to spend an entire day plannig a lesson and making the resources, to have them throw it back at me without giving me a chance! I feel pretty useless....help
Let no one think of me as humble or weak or passive ...

#28 Lesley Ann

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 07:44 PM

Don’t apologise Anne…. we have all had bad days and classes like your GCSE class. I have had my fair share of shaky pupils. I was in a rather challenging school in my first two years of teaching...a baptism of fire - which taught me lots of survival tips.

In my first school I felt like I had been thrown to the sharks - I was driven to listening too and singing the chubawumba song ‘they knock me down, I get up again’ on the way to work in my car – it became my ‘theme’ song. I was determined not to be beaten – I’d spend hours analysing my lesson planning, resources, strategies for pupil behaviour….
I’m pleased you have a supportive team behind you…utilise their support.

An INSET course recommended a book by Bill Rogers on classroom management – a colleague also reckons he is good…I have tried some of his tips and I thought they were very good – (‘either Put the can on my desk or in your pocket'…..something I have done for years anyway). A very quick search on the www has given:

http://pegasus.cityo...phil-mgmt.phtml


Amazon

Don’t let this class get you down, concentrate on all your positive lessons and pupils.
Carpe Diem - Seize the Day

#29 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 08:37 PM

Our school has just had an INSET from the great Bill Rogers, who was really excellent. His 'mantra' goes something like this (and I am trying to use this with the challenging classes ie pretty much everyone bar the top set):

Calm yourself first, then try to clam the situation.
Describe the obvious reality - eg you have just thrown your pen across the room
Focus on the Primary behaviour - don't be distracted by things which happened after.
Tactically ignore the whinging / avoiding responsibility / swearing which is the guaranteed response
Try to get some shared positive response eg yes, refer to the school rules
allow the students 'take up time' to do as instructed
separate amicably - I can see that you have done some good work this lesson, lets focus on completing that question
If necessary Follow Up and Follow Through

Above all DO NOT PLEAD (Please do this ...) and DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS (Why have you thrown that pen? well Johnny threw it first and then he got out of his chair and he said 'your mum' to me so I just decided to throw it back, it wasn't my fault and in anycase my mum is on the social and my dad has abandoned me and blah blah blah

And after you have had a run in with a student you must make an effort to 'repair and rebuild' after all your future relationship depends on this being achieved successfully.

Edited by Dan Lyndon, 25 September 2003 - 08:39 PM.

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#30 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 08:51 PM

Don't get yourself down Anne - it reminds me of my first GCSE group when I was thrown into a class of 32 Y10s and having to do the Weimar to a mix of kids who couldn't read well and some others who thought they knew it all.

Sound advice above.

You should firstly depersonalise it, take a step back. They don't know you at all, do they? Therefore they are not criticising you as a person, but testing out a new teacher. Treat the individuals in question like challenges to be overcome rather than obstacles in your path. Whatever you do don't end up calling on SMT too often and letting them discipline them, as they will not respect your own authority which you have.

I would refer that unhelpful parent on to SMT however as they are surely in breach of home-school contract for not supporting the school's disciplinary policy.

Above all, share your concerns with your colleagues over a drink on the Friday - you won't be alone at all and it is a very uplifting experience.

Hope next week's better.
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