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.


  1. Awww, I'm sorry Mr. Porter. That sucks. So we've been reading about an intervention called the "Good Behavior Game" in one of my classes. It's done in early childhood settings, but I think some of it may be transferrable to a middle school setting assuming that some of the incentives can be tweaked. Basically, students are placed into groups (and not at random, but groups where the kids have the best chance of succeeding) and they receive consequences (both good and bad) as a group. Points are equivalent to demerits and so all groups with points below a certain bar get a some kind of reward after the interval passes when the game is being "played" (multiple rounds can occur in a class session, and ideally this would be the case, I feel like you could potentially scaffold this into longer time increments). The rewards can be tangible and intangible, so they can include privileges like pencil tapping during a certain portion of class or something that they wouldn't ordinarily get to do.
    But the whole point is that by putting them in groups, a) there's collective accountability and b) it tries to make use of positive peer pressure. They seemed to have fairly good and far reaching (so beyond the classroom) effects at the elementary age. How this would translate to a middle school setting, I'm not entirely sure. However, I hope this could help!

  2. Thanks for the comment Ms. Garcia. I hope that all is well with you. Interesting idea to make the group smaller. We'll keep trying.