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I was talking with my mom the other day after school. As I was telling her about my day and some of the things my teacher and I talked about, I realized something.

I am from a small town in Southern Indiana. The schools that I attended growing up and hope to teach at in the future are so called "4 star schools". Most of the students in our corporation are in the general education classrooms. They are on grade level and for those who are not on grade level they get help during study halls in the upper grades and pull out programs in the lower grades. These are very similar pull out programs that happen here. The thing that stands out to me from the substitute teaching I have done at home is the behavior. You still have your talkers and students who can not sit still to save their life. The big difference is the amount of fighting. The behavior here is much more aggressive and hurtful.

My mom has been picking on me about changing my major. I told her after Mrs. C was gone for two days, “If I wasn’t so stubborn, I would seriously think about changing my major!” I have no clue what I would change it to because all I have ever wanted to do is teach. She told me the other night that I was going to switch majors again and I told her the thing right now that is keeping me from it, is knowing that the behavior won’t be as aggressive at home.

I feel that I can’t do anything about the behavior of these children. You stop them from punching, kicking, or pushing each other around and tell them the right way to handle it but it doesn’t matter. They fall right back into the fighting when you turn around. I think I am going to get a lesson on anger management for this week or next week. Not that I’m sure it will help but something has got to work!

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I am right there with you, except I am encountering the same problems you are in an area that I expected to be a more conservative environment, about 40 miles outside of DC. I intentionally accepted the 4th grade regular education classroom to have a "reasonable" first year teaching experience. I have yet to see it.
My student teaching experience, also 4th grade, in a more affluent neighborbood near Pittsburgh, was a much more positive one. I did not encounter nearly the problems I am here in Virginia. I also know that this is where the jobs are!
About 9 weeks into the semester, I felt I have totally lost control of my classroom and other than knocking out walls to get my students farther away from each other, I was at my wits
end as to how to organize the difficult situations I was encountering on a constant basis. In a desperate move, I decided to change the whole environment by putting the class into "teams", giving them leaders and helpers, their team color, and rewards for being the first to cooperate, get quiet, and finish their work. I am working to teach all students how to deal with those on their team that they would rather not have near them,in hopes of teaching them some self-discipline and peer-responsibility. I took their desks and turned them around so they cannot have any "distractions" to play with during class. All supplies, books, paper and etc. are in close proximity to their team on bookshelves. They have one pencil cup in the center of the 6 or 7 desks to share. Everything is community property. I have found I need to shpend more time going through the daily process of getting out the proper books, papers and homework assignments.
I feel like I am teaching in a second grade class, rather than 4th to half of my class, and then there are the 8-10 gifted students that need much more independence and more stimulating work. I have just recently found the energy to find some projects for them. It seems like, so far, I have expended all my time and energy on the "problem children", the fighters, slackers, and the obstinate. The team effort seems to be paying off. It has worked now for several weeks.One final note: I have 2 "angel" teachers who are my buddy teachers down the hall. Whenever I have a problem with a child, I immediately send them down the hall, where the buddy teacher reams them out and makes them shape up. She will keep them for an hour or so, until their work is done and they are calmed down. It is not a pleasant experience for them, and is a little bit of relief for me, so that I can focus on the rest of the class and Teaching. It is also a relief for the class, who find it also very disturbing. Hopefully, it will continue to work. Good Luck!

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