Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sic Semper Tyrannis, or What?

I do not know what to do with my fourth block class. I do not have control of them as I do my other classes. It hasn’t gotten out of hand yet, but they whisper, they write notes instead of taking notes, they don’t do the reading… it’s all subtle, but still insubordinate and unproductive.

I am going to fix this. I am just not sure how.


Repairman said...

Frumteacher has been discussing discipline on her blog as well.

I taught eighth grade, but this technique works for high schoolers as well...

Let them know that you need everyone's cooperation to maintain and manage your classroom and that events that disrupt the learning environment for all or even one other student will cost them five seconds of passing time for each instance. For the first interruption, say, "that's five." Next interruption, "ten seconds."

You shouldn't have to go beyond that before the more assertive members of the class become interested in helping you out.

The trick is to keep it from becoming too intense with the peer pressure.

Whiners who claim "it's not fair" need to be told that the learning environment is not democracy in action.

You can put your own spin on it if you want to give it a shot. Keep it light. Most teachers I knew who had difficult classes were reluctant to try it. They just kept suffering. I never understood that.

I sometimes took a chance and told the class that the time would be forgiven if there were no further instances. That usually worked for me. Sometimes I would forget to levy the sanction because we got to wrapped up in activities, and kids would poke a little fun at me. I just laughed along with them, but the humor never diminished the effectiveness of the tool.

One downside: if you don't get the peer pressure going early, or you go over one minute in penalty time, things get intense. You can't keep kids late for other classes. It's a balancing act.

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