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.


  1. Zane,

    Unfortunately there are many more schools like this than not. When a parent tells me I am not doing my job, I always invite them into the classroom or for a meeting any time they would like. I tell them I am happy to get feedback and I believe I can always get better at what I am doing. They usually get annoyed, but stop complaining about my teaching.

    I am so glad to read your blog on here, and I hope that your students begin to come around. Keep me posted!

  2. Thanks Jonathan...Sometimes the less glamorous parts of teaching make me feel like I am teaching on an island (separated from any civilization and reason). It is therapeutic to write out the difficulties of teaching. I hope that some find it useful and helpful to know that they are not alone in the battle to educate the next generation. I will continue to write and to read, you do the same. I have said it before, but thank you for your candor and availability

  3. No problem Zane; it's why I get paid the big bucks. :-)