Wednesday, November 12, 2008

turn arounds

it's insane to see how little turn-around you get when you give a talk to some of your students. even regular redirection.

i have a class. the class that makes me worry because i don't exactly see the kind of dynamics that play out. there are a few kids who can be on-task, there are a few kids who are very on-task, and then there are the extremely hyper and plain disruptive kids. these four children are the ones that bring down the system. they destroy the dynamics of the class, and create a culture of disruption because they feed off of each other, which in turns allows the others to feed off of that energy. the class ends in a big quilombo (a big mess in argentine spanish), and i end up looking like my top is going to blow.

i've tried to get some of my students (two, in particular) to strike a deal with me: you fulfill such and such criteria, and i will allow you to sit in a certain place. you say that sitting next to certain people will allow you to concentrate better than sitting alone, then i'll let you do it. but you abuse that, and all privilege is taken away. i feel as though they understand this. they know what to do, but they still ignore it. they're so into impressing each other with fart noises (something i myself enjoy, which takes all the fun out of it), belching, and side conversations that they blatantly forget what it is their original task is supposed to be as well as the deal they struck with me.

discipline and redirection does not work. i find myself calling them out on the stuff they pull--today i called one kid out about calling another kid stupid, or some such insult. i asked, in a very, very harsh voice, "tell me why you think that was appropriate. why? why was saying ____ appropriate? tell me why you're disrupting my class with those outbursts." and just kept on insisting until the "ummm..." stopped and he said i don't know. and then i turned into a calm, low voice and continued. i say it as if it were that simple, but it's never that simple.

i sometimes survey my classes and think to myself: i just don't know what to do right now. and i honestly don't. they expect me to act a certain way because that's how i've been acting up until now. how do i break that mold? one of those disruptive kids, while i started to look like my top was going to blow, said to everyone, "oh he's going to yell! 5...4...3...2..." what do you do with this? what do you do with so many different challenges in one single room without your head spinning?

on the plus side, we're doing robert frost! the road not taken leads to strawberry jam and peanut butter sandwiches.

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