Saturday, January 24, 2009

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?


At 6:13 AM , Blogger Ricochet said...

In 3 of my classes (high school, low level math) I have 2 -5 individuals willing to do ANYTHING for attention. Short of writing them up and getting them out of my class, I see no way to teach the others.

A third of my kids failed (and will repeat) their other math class - it is my purpose to help them pass that class and I am not succeeding.

At 10:10 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Your dilemma is exactly what I am confused about. We don't want to remove students on a regular basis, but when those individuals absolutely refuse to come along, even after encouragement and praise for their good effort and positive choices, how can we continue to sweat the small stuff if the others in the class are suffering?
I want the 5-7 students who are continually disrupting to mature and make good choices. I want those 5-7 to use their leadership skills for the betterment of the school. Yet, at some point don't we have to focus our attention on the ones that are "getting it" in regard to behaviors?

At 11:45 AM , Blogger Ms. V. said...

It comes down to one concept: Either you have administrative support to teach, or you don't.

I have a classroom full of Continuation Students. I know that I can write referrals and send them out...and it will be handled.

He can keep a list of my referrals all he wants. I have my classroom standards and integrity, and at the end of the day have to know that I did the best I could, which many times means removing the offenders.

At 6:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love reading this blog. You have a good writing style. Thanks..


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