I am so glad to say that today’s class with the 26 nine year olds went MUCH more smoothly!
Before I begin, I have to say that I really admire teachers (and TA’s) who can speak sharply and discipline students directly and meaningfully in a way that is not threatening but is certainly intimidating. Sometimes, kids cross the line and they need to be reminded of where they stand. Take today for example. Three grade 4 boys pointed and laughed obnoxiously for no reason at a couple of senior high girls in their sports uniforms. They were immediately shut down by a Teacher Assistant (whom I now aspire to be like) who said, “STOP. Why are you laughing? What is so funny to you? Is it funny for you to be laughing at other students who play on a sports team for this school??”And as she continued reprimanding them, I was reminded that discipline isn’t simply telling a kid to stop doing something and leaving it at that. But in fact, it is getting them to realize why their actions are wrong, to to make them feel remorseful for their actions and to admit that they were wrong. And in this particular case, I think it was good for these three boys to be disciplined in front of their peers rather than privately, because everyone needs to know that it is never okay to make fun of others.
My Class Today:
I immediately put my colleague’s advice to practice! Before class started, I prayed “Dear God please help me. Please, please, please…”. I was very apprehensive and anxious of how everything would turn out, because I did not need a repeat of yesterday.
My students entered the classroom and right away, those four students started their usual business of shouting, walking around, and kicking things. So I marched to the back of the room, pulled one desk into a corner and told one of them that that would be his seat from now on. I pulled another desk to another far corner and sat the other student down telling him the same thing. By now, the other two had settled quickly into their seats. I marched back to the front of the class, called everyone to attention, and we went over our three class rules. I also explained that from now on, if anyone was disturbing everyone else’s learning, their name would go on the board and if they continued, they would get a checkmark by their name. Each checkmark equals 5 minutes of staying in at recess.
As students started working on their assignments, sure enough, one of the boys started wandering out of their desks and bothering other students. I wrote his name on the board and he went back to his seat and didn’t cause any more trouble for the rest of the class. The next boy started moving the desk that I had deliberately placed at the back of the room, so up went his name on the board. He started walking around, boom! a checkmark. And another one. After the second checkmark, he finally started working.
Now the last two… it took them a little longer. They nearly got me fed up until I remembered my colleagues warning me yesterday that they will really try to test me (they have these same students). As soon as I realized that they were simply testing me, I grew calm and just kept adding checkmarks to their names. In the end, one boy had six checkmarks and the other had four. It took losing 1.5-2 recesses before they finally realized that I meant business. They didn’t get any work done, but by the end of class, they were sitting properly and quietly without bothering anyone else. And it doesn’t even bother me that they didn’t finish their work, because those two boys made huge progress in behaviour today.
Best of all, while I had everyone line up at the door, they came up to me and said that they were sorry. I was so surprised and so pleased that they apologized without me having to force it out of them. It wasn’t my smoothest lesson, but it was indubitably the best thing that happened to me so far this month.