Can One Teacher Sweat the Small Stuff Alone?
With only fifty pages remaining in Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism, author David Whitman has me stirring, pacing, and now typing. Now that he's reported his findings about the schools, he is discussing the twenty habits of highly effective schools. The first one, Tell students exactly how to behave and tolerate no disorder (260), has me asking one question: how do I do that?
He writes that urban schools suffer from disorder. I agree. I see it every day. He commands, "Stop the visible signs of disorder...graffiti on toilet stalls, rowdy hallways, dirty cafeteria..." (260). And I agree. There are gang signs all over our bathroom walls--and on Friday I stood at a urinal with the letters R.G.K., which I don't think stand for this RGK Foundation. I enjoyed using the bathroom that day because I couldn't stop laughing at the irony of where these young geniuses placed their proud insignia.
Okay, so how do I stop the disorder? I can only control my actions and hope to influence other teacher, but I have to teach a class, I can't stand in the hall after the bell rings and chide students who haven't made it to their rooms yet.
Plus, the loving without logic state of Connecticut wants to hinder our ability to not tolerate such behaviors. What are we to do when our own state wants to limit the discipline choices we have at our disposal? And more specifically, what am I to do when our administration tracks how many referrals I write, and make it more difficult to remove a disruptive student from class? So what can I do?