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    my experience
    By Amanda

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    I'm a second year, inner city teacher. My classes the past two years have been smaller (16), but most of them take as much of my attention as 2 kids should. I like my students in groups. I have them in groups of 3 students right now (two facing each other and one on the side). My classroom is big, so I have 2 students sitting alone at a group of 3 desks. That way, for work that needs partners, groups, I can move someone to their desk cluster. It actually works pretty well, because 1-they don't affect other student's behavior; 2-I do a lot of "which group can show me they're ready first?" "who will be first to line up?" etc, and the students sitting alone quickly realized: "Hey! That means if I get ready, I can be first! I can win because there are 3 of them who have to get ready!" and it helped almost over night. Other times, of course, they don't really care, but even once a day, it gives me a chance to say "E, great job! You're ready first!" I do not do traditional "centers", but I do have them work on different activities within their sitting groups. I find the less mine have to get from place-to-place, the less chaos there is generally. I have used a colored step system that works for most of my students. For those who were constantly "losing" in the system because of always being in trouble, I created a modified plan that ALWAYS included daily behavior report forms (Circling a smile, frown, or straight face for each behavior expectation). It seemed to work last year (I haven't needed to do that yet this year), because they got to see the faces on the sheet and realize how they did. Then we would pick one expectation together and say "Tomorrow, we're going to work on... [staying in seat, raising hand, following directions, showing respect to teacher]" and it usually helped.

    Oh, I forgot, the students who are sitting alone: if they do well for 2 weeks on their own, I move 1 student to the cluster with them, and then later 1 more, but they don't get much backsliding room - if they have a couple bad days in a row, they're back to sitting alone.

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