Monday, December 5, 2011

HELP! Ideas? My last class is unruly. Day #4

Today…we had progress.  We worked for close to 15 minutes on our class and what it should behave like.  Tomorrow, I plan on getting into what it should look like. I am planning prodding to find all of the motivation I can.  Hopefully the last few days will make the minds of my students malleable enough to draw out true motivation.

I look forward to what the class has to share and how we can be engaged in learning from all participants.  This battle will be daily, but I hope that the groundwork that has been laid will provide a solid base for engaged and active learning.

I will keep you posted on the progress.

Friday, December 2, 2011

HELP! Ideas? My last class is unruly. Day #3

Day 3 saw more classroom participation by 200%.  I would be excited about that statistic if it was doubling 20 or 30 minutes, but it is doubling 3 and a half minutes.  The students are simply defiant.  There were many times that I saw hope and thought we were getting somewhere but it didn't happen.

During the class I was sent three students from another class because they were being disruptive in their class and were being given a “team time out.”  Even those students were vocal about the fact that my class was being “stupid” and didn’t recognize how they were supposed to act.

I gave in today and wrote “Sit in the circle and do not get up.  After we are quiet we will begin. We are a class and everyone must follow along.”  This sparked good discussion, but it did not grow into fruition.  I want to be careful not to place too much emphasis on being quiet, but if we can’t master this basic skill, we can’t move on to trust and productive noise.

The same situation occurred today as did yesterday: after fifteen minutes, the class quieted down and we discussed which “reasons for being in class” they could control.  The discussion was going well and then a couple of students began a side conversation that was overly distracting.  Therefore, I waited for the class to get quiet again and it never happened.  One student bit his pen and filled his mouth with ink (accidentally); I didn’t expect that.

As I have voiced what I am doing to other teachers at the school, I hear more and more teachers validating the process and they are curious to its affect on the students’ class behavior.  A student (one that is middle of the road in terms of behavior) came to me after class and informed me that I was allowed to send out the half of the disruptive class so that we can get started.  Well, thank you for giving me permission.  If it were only that easy to get rid of the kids that are disruptive, I would have already.

Our job is to mold students to be productive citizens and to teach them to cooperate and collaborate. Sending them out of class is telling the student that they are not able to control themselves so they should not be part of the general population.  We have places like that in society, but let’s not get them accustomed to correctional institutes quite yet.  Some of them already know that life by seeing their mother or father in and out of it. Let’s not give them any more reason to follow suit.

While I’m sharing my day, in another class I had three students threaten to send their dads and uncles up to talk to me.  They were reprimanded for being out of place and did not understand why I would not “just understand.”  I called one mother today because her daughter walked out of class without permission for the third time this year, and she began to tell me how I was not doing my job.  She informed me that she was going to the school board to get me fired.  Is this how every school is?  Am I simply humoring myself on the idea that students can be productive community citizens and can improve the world around them?

Where do I go from here?  How do I bounce back next week?  There is only one way to find out, so I will jump in with both feet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

HELP! Ideas? My last class is unruly. Day #2

Day 2 of the quiet game did a little better than day 1, but it was nothing to write home about.  I started today like yesterday with the students in a circle and asking the students to get quiet with my posture and demeanor.  They knew what I was expecting and did not comply until about 15 minutes into class.

Once the class was quiet, I asked them, “Why are you here?”  There were many responses and I had a recorder write down the answers.  During these 200 seconds, they could not stay focused and began with their side conversations (very typical of this class).  Here is a picture of their list.

The students did not calm down for the next 50 minutes.  My heart dropped when they would not calm down.  I told the teachers in my hall that I would have cried if I was an outwardly emotional guy.  They have no clue!  There is no desire to cooperate or even to speak civilized with one another.  After talking to my wife, she said that they might not have the capacity to care about their learning.  I do not want to believe that.

I did break my silence a few times because their conversation moved to making fun of people and to the fight that I broke up on Wednesday.  Some students were still trying to get everyone quiet.  One boy kept asking people to quiet down, but he was timid and would not assert himself.  Another girl said, “Guys, we can’t even be quiet enough to do anything,” and “Mr. Porter, can’t you just send out the ones that are talking or give them all detentions.”  I wanted to respond with, “I would love for your desire to rub off on them instead of putting a Band-Aid on the problem.”

After the class, I walked outside to monitor and make sure a repeat of Wednesday did not happen.  I have morning duty, so I am not accustomed to being outside of the building when school is let out.  To my amazement, I counted six teachers leaving before the all of the students had even exited the building.  They were out of the doors like the building was on fire.  I can understand one teacher that was rushing out to get to a doctor’s appointment (or something similar) but six teachers flooding out of the building?  Do they not need to wrap up their day?  Is there not a sense of responsibility to make sure all of the students get out safely?  It was confusing to me.

Again, I am hopeful.  If you have any suggestions, please comment, email, mention, or DM me.  Otherwise, I am going to continue this method.  I will say one thing though; This experiment is not as stressful as trying to teach through the defiance.