Classroom Discipline

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2 thoughts on “Classroom Discipline”

  1. Ben/Stephen,
    Ben’s classroom rules are great. Besides classroom rules, I believe that what I do outside of class goes a long way to classroom management. In the morning, all teachers have to be on duty; I chose the main hallway where a few hundred kids pass by. I say, “Guten Morgen/Morgen/Moin…” to all of my students, even when they are walking that “dead man walking” walk. If I have read anything in the paper about a game, a music event, etc., I mention it. If students have a game that night, I say “Viel Glück/Good luck”. On Friday, my room is right next to the main hallway, so I stand as they are rushing out. “Schönes Wochenende/Have a nice weekend!” My students have learned to say “Gleichfalls/Same to you!”
    This is not fake stuff. I love teaching high school students and enjoy their creativity.
    But, for the “asses” that we all have in class, I also am a big believer of talking to kids one-on-one, without their audience. Sometimes I seek them out, at other times, I see them coming. “John, do you have a minute?” The conversation that follows is dictated by what I see about their behavior in class. I come to the point, whatever that issue is (is the student talkative but comical? Nasty? Rude?) I look at kids right in their eyes, calmly state my case, but just as with TPRS, “ask a story”. That kid is an ass for a reason, and more often than not, I find out what makes him tick.Through these questions I put the “ball in that student’s court”. I ask questions that force them to answer with something other than “yes” or “no”. Over the course of my career, I have had many conversations. Most of the time the kids are just immature. There have been some “tougher” nuts to crack, but the conversations are well worth it.
    Ben’s rules, speaking with students one-on-one, seating charts in a class that needs it (which I just did in my German II class after the break with great results–phenomenal, in fact), will all help. Be patient. You are a young teacher, but with the progress you are making, you will find that it gets easier with time.

  2. I found out in December that one of my student’s dads is in the penitentiary, and the young man, who is fading in my class, doesn’t know when/if he will ever get out. I pulled him into the hallway today just before class. I told him I couldn’t image having to deal with that. I told him that listening to French in that situation must be like listening to someone talk through a fog. I told him that I understood, and that we should just work together as best we can. I said that I would make eye contact with him during the story or whatever, and he could listen as best he could, and, if it was just too much, I would understand. He had a good class today. He knows that I am aware of the situation, and that I am not going to bust down on him for being out of it. His reaction was much like you might imagine Mike gets in the various hallway interactions he has with his kids. Something invisible shifts. Look, Stephen, these kids aren’t ignoring us or being asses on purpose, just to bust our chops. There are very real reasons for their behavior. That doesn’t excuse anything, and my student may well not pass my class, but I will at least know that I did all I could to build a bridge with this child. I just didn’t assume anything about him. I dug around a little, talked to an uncle, and found out what I found out. It will change the tenor of our relationship. He will know that he is important to me, and that I have a prayerful empathy for the impossible load he is carrying. As teachers, Mike implies, let’s do that sort of thing first. Let’s quit seeing ourselves as those old robe-clad pedants of years past, swooshing around campus thinking that all the students look up to them and want to be like them. This boy I am talking about could never imagine striving to lofty intellectual heights right now, so I will assume NOTHING about his motives in learning. I will guarantee him safe passage to the end of the period and to the end of the year. Because he is occupied now. He doesn’t care about French when he may never again have his dad around. His shoulders are busy holding up a weight that I can only imagine. I have to teach him that way. Not the old way. I’ll bet some teachers would think him stupid by observing him in class. That would be a mistake. How many mistakes will happen tomorrow across America?

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