With unruly students, we can work with one other colleague within our department, or our entire department can work together, to function as baby sitters for those kids who just bring the vibe in the room down. We haven’t talked about it in a long time and I am thrilled that Sean remembered it and suggested it just in time for what I call the October Collapse, when kids start to get ugly with the shine of the new year just faded. What we do is have a little routine that really works. We send the offending kid to our colleague’s classroom, whether she has a class or not. If not, she babysits the kid as they do pre-prepared busy work which we hand to the offending kid as they leave the class. If our colleague has a class that period, it is even better, because there is a kid we have chosen for this job, usually a big kid like a football player who sits in the back of the classroom and who is of good will. When the colleague sees the kid come into the room, there is no discussion. Everything is planned out and goes into effect. The big kid stands up, the colleague directs the offending kid to go sit in the empty desk next to the big kid, the big kid tells the kid to sit down, and the big kid becomes the offending kid’s babysitter, making sure they do so with a bit of a scowl. The message is that the big kid buys into what we are trying to do in our class, and if the offending kid does anything to try to draw attention to himself as he did in the other classroom, the big kid squashes it. The reverse is true, of course, where our colleague can reciprocally send us anyone they want and we have our own good-hearted but physically intimidating kid in our own room ready to stand up when they see a “visitor” to our classroom who needs to be babysat. It is a matter of great interest to all the students in both classes to see the offending kid thus expelled from one class and swiftly, within seconds, being made to sit in another class that is usually being conducted in a completely different language, with a kind of guard on him. It’s what those offending kids deserve, policing from another student who takes our instruction seriously. The entire process can take only about ten seconds for the offender to be ushered out of the room, escorted by either me or the big kid in my room, and then it takes another 30 seconds for the offender arriving in the colleague’s room to be welcomed and quickly put under the watchful gaze/scowl of the big kid in the back of the colleague’s room. I have rarely used this, but each time I have it has really worked. I won’t say which schools I used it in, but they are both big urban Denver schools where a lot of those antisocial behaviors had been – big mistake – tolerated by far too many teachers. My favorite moment with this babysitting idea was once when a kid arrived from Barbara Vallejos’ class, with a kid who was kind of out of control. The offending kid was escorted by Barbara who only had to walk him across the hallway. She half opened the door to my classroom, I immediately stopped teaching and welcomed our “visitor” with a big smile, pointed to my big kid in the back, saying, “Oh, welcome to my French class! Trevor standing up back there is going to help you do some work so go sit next to him!” The kid had this sheepish look on his face like he had been caught, and he had, and had no choice because I had trained my big kid to look unhappy that this was even happening. The much smaller but big mouthed kid had to go sit down next to the big gentle but intimidating kid and after a few failed tries to be funny in his new environment, began quietly faking doing his worksheets under Trevor’s watchful gaze. Thanks, Sean, for the reminder about this rarely used but very effective technique.



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