Tuesday, February 05, 2008


What pissed me off most about his comment was that he was right. For an entire period, this student talked even though he was two chapter behind on his reading. As usual, he packed up early to stand by the door. Standing by the door typically doesn't irritate me, but when he opened the door and stood outside, I became annoyed.
"Jimmy, come inside please," I asked and then closed the door behind him. As I walk back towards my desk, he opened the door and stepped outside again.
"Jimmy, come here please, " I request.
"I didn't go outside," he quickly claims. This of course gets me off track momentarily while I explain the physical impossibility of being both outside and inside the room.
"Jimmy, you talked all period and then disrespected me. Explain to my why you don't deserve a referral," I prompt.
"It doesn't matter mister. Go ahead, give me a referral. I'll serve it. I'll come back to class. Those things don't matter, so I don't know why you teachers threaten us with them," he states.

And he's right. The bell rings, and I tell him to "have a nice day, Jimmy."


At 7:32 PM , Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Yuck. That story made me shudder. The little twerp has figured out the system. And the system sucks.

At 5:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently we have the same administration. ::sigh::

At 9:06 PM , Blogger Onyx said...

I am sorry. I am sorry for those kids as well.

Sadly I am grateful I no longer teach.

At 4:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I come to this blog on a fairly regular basis. I read it because you give me interesting things to think about, you help me remember my journey as a teacher, and I like the way it is written. But I don’t look here every day. My time has a lot of demands on it, you don’t write something new every day, and even if you did, I could easily catch up. In other words, as a free agent, I budget my investment of time so that the return is maximized. That’s what people do, and Jimmy is people.
When he walks to the door he is telling you that you are not giving him a return on his investment of time. When you make it about you (“You are disrespecting me.”) and you make it about power (“I’m going to write a referral.”) you reinforce his understanding that he has nothing to lose by walking out.
I used to have a unit where my students had to form ad campaigns about a made up product and present those campaigns at a New York ad agency to see which would win the account. The ad people were generous in teaching my students the business, but I also learned a lot that helped me in my teaching. For example, one of the reasons advertisers try to leave us with a laugh or contain familiar music, is so that we will stay to the end for our reward of that laugh or the satisfaction of our favorite part of the song.
If your students want to leave before the end, look to your classroom structures—the mention of homework is a signal that the class is over (tell them the homework at the beginning); gathering up papers, bringing the lesson to a close, “You can begin your homework,” dismissing them with your eyes, are all signals that class is over and there is no more return on invested time. Continued discussion, where you are listening to Jimmy, activities in which students are helping each other, lessons that reach their climax at the bell or two seconds after it, are rewards to Jimmy for staying in the room.
As for power…get over it, you’re a teacher. Make your classroom about honoring the students’ investment of time and the students will give you power; make it about you and they will do their best to show you how little power you really have.


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