Saturday, March 25, 2006

We all have one like this...

Chatty. Aloof. Unconcerned. My sixth period class fits those descriptions. I wrote about them at the beginning of the year and have tried many of the suggestions given by other teachers. But, they have continued to be chatty, aloof, and unconcerned.
I'm paid to handle these types of classes; we all have one like them. The larger problem occurs when I am out of the classroom at one of the many well-thought out meetings I get to attend. My students seem to struggle greatly with respecting any substitute I've had this year.
The potent mix of already chatty, aloof, and unconcerned students with a guest teacher, usually a bit older, has finally erupted. This past week, while I was at a meeting, my students decided to be the worst group of ninth graders the sub has had in a long while. Some were worse than others, but the description of the class as a whole upset me.
So, because we have dealth with this poor behavior all year, and because I am tired of struggling, I handed out detentions to every single kid in class. Some think I was unfair, and perhaps rightly so, but I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO?


At 8:03 AM , Blogger M. Gatton said...

I feel your pain. There's really no such thing as fair in these situations. If we think of behavior as being either good or bad, then students in any class will generally fall along a continuum so that the problem becomes one of demarcation - where do you draw the line? You either include kids near the line who don't really deserve to be punished or you exclude kids who do deserve it. Either way it's "unfair."

Can the sub identify a sample number of kids for singling out? I have sometimes used a "random" approach when large numbers of kids are unruly. Rather than try to get everyone and draw that line, I announce that 3 people (or 5, or whatever) who get on my list will be randomly selected for detention. Then I don't have to "rank" them and take the 3 worst offenders and then argue about who was worse than whom.

You might try the reverse for rewards as well. Anyone not in the detention pool is eligible for a random drawing for rewards. That could be extra points for classroom participation or a homework pass or whatever works for your kids.

At 12:15 PM , Anonymous Matt said...

At first I thought it was absurd to randomly select kids to punish instead of punishing the whole class. But then I remembered that I got called into the principal's office the day after I handed out five detentions to my (ironically) 6th period class of 28 freshmen. The principal implied that I had completely lost control of my classroom. He hates detentions - it makes him fill out paperwork. Five from one class period is overwhelming to him. If I had given out 28 detentions, I probably wouldn't get my contact renewed.

At 11:39 AM , Blogger hedgetoad said...

I had a class like this last year... and it never really got any better. It's not an experience I would like to repeat.

Usually, I leave really specific instructions for the sub (ie. Student X is not allowed to leave the room for any reason; Teacher Y has prep this period and will accept malcontents (leaving admin. out of it), Student Z can be relied upon for truthful information, etc.) I also leave a note on the board stating that the class with the best sub report gets a treat and follow through with something really good. It costs $$ but generally, it's pretty good reports. FWIW, this tatic did not work on the hiddeous class last year - they were just jerks to everyone. Still are.


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