There are 3 secrets to classroom management in my view:
1. Teach an interesting class to keep them engaged.
2. Grow a spine for the vampires.
3. Never let a vampire make a single inappropriate comment, ever, without confronting it on the spot.
I could go off on this topic. I have a book on classroom management in the works but each time I look at it I realize that its premise is not based on the above points – it is based on old reactive classroom management thinking in the TPRS/CI community. The new classroom management in our community is proactive and based on student engagement.
What should be the true foundation for classroom management, a foundation that actually works? It should be (a) having a good curriculum and (b) growing a spine….
I would tell a CI teacher struggling with classroom management issues right now in April to use the rest of the year to fix things so that it doesn’t happen next year. Address the above points.
Do you teach an interesting enough class that keeps them all engaged? If you are doing traditional CI and not the Star, good luck on that one. Traditional CI just ain’t that great, esp. in its newest form of trying to mix grammar and CI.
Re: the idea of you growing a spine. Can you begin to move the power back to you? Of course this won’t be possible until the fall with new kids, but you can do the hard work of making that internal shift in your relationship with the few but class-wrecking snots right now. That’s an internal change and I worked on it for my entire career silently with mixed results.
No child – even if he is in what looks like an adult body in high school – no child will ever be permitted to say even the least, the tiniest, the smallest inappropriate things to me in a hidden bid to take my power from me and win over others in the class for his or her purposes of drawing attention to themselves and taking the spotlight off of my instruction.
It’s usually just one narc kid, maybe two. According to what I understand of the research in this new field of psychology about narcissism (it’s only 20 years old ), about one in five people is a narcissist. So look around. Look among your students and colleagues and admins. One of those is a narc who can destroy your life. Yes, I said destroy your life. Among admins, they have about a 2 in 5 change of being a narc, because narcs seek positions of power. Can anyone say Donald? Or think of your least favorite principal. Probably a narc.
The kids in your class who play up to the narcs in your class are empaths who need his approval and who have given him power.
They don’t get to be that way. I don’t need them to like me. It was so hard for me. I was an internal mess for most of my career. I put up the brave front but I didn’t understand narcissism. I tried to get narc students to like me. That is impossible. It almost killed me in terms of mental anguish over the years. I wish I had read this article forty years ago, but it’s not a lesson easily learned. But it would have saved me immense pain.*
The Star changes the entire dynamic with abusive kids. But don’t expect a big change in those few kids this spring. It’s way too late. Expect some hard days, but then if you put changes addressing the above three things into place now, then you won’t have to suffer in the fall, because you will have made the internal changes.
What brings the internal change? Believe it of not, it’s the Star. Yes, if you have a proper curriculum, your classroom management problems will mostly disappear. But you also have to learn to confront the jerks. Confront or die.
*If you don’t understand narcissism, then run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit of your building. When you get home, email your principal with your intent to leave the profession while you get good help from a mental health professional. When your principal asks why, tell her it’s because you didn’t understand narcissism and you won’t return until you do. Then go buy Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book on Energy Vampires and read it. There are other books. Don’t return to the field until you deeply grasp how every fourth or fifth person among your students, their parents, your colleagues and admins – those energy vampires – would be perfectly happy to see that you never discover the true joy of teaching. They live to hurt others and gain control over them. Drumphism is just scratching the surface of this deepest of all problems facing humanity right now, in my opinion. If you don’t grow a spine, then get out of our field, which in some lists about stressful jobs is the SINGLE MOST STRESSFUL PROFESSION IN THE WORLD.
(That is an interesting way to put it, isn’t it? The only thing standing like a massive brick wall between you and discovering what joy there is in this work are the few vampires who have been made to believe by other teachers that they can say anything they want in class without consequences. You already have the Star thanks to me, so get your butt in gear adressing the three points I made above when I first started writing this angry post. If you had been doing what I did with kids, sucking up to them, hoping they would like me, but not having my own spine to confront them when they made those inappropriate comments – YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT – then you would be angry too.)