Following the Miserable Monday I had, I implemented my “plan” today. I waited for the bell to ring and I sat on the table at the front of my classroom. Attached to the board were magnetic clips that were holding the folders “Rude Student Work” and “Referral Forms.”
I waited for the kids to quiet down and I asked for essays from the students that owed them to me. Then I began telling the students a story. It went something like this:
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. It took me 41 years to get here and accomplish my goal. In those 41 years I had a lot of time to think about what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I wanted to be the teacher who had students wanting to come to her classes. I wanted to be the teacher who kids liked, not because she was a push-over, but because they knew that she worked to make class fun. You are ruining my dream. When you come to class and are rude and disrespectful, you ruin it for me. I love teaching and I care about every single one of you. I want you to come to me for help, I want you to know that I am here if you need someone to talk to. I had four rules that I told you on our first day. The first rule was to be on-time and prepared for class. What was the second rule? (Respect.) Respect who? (Everyone.) Are you respecting your peers when you are disrespectful to me? When you make it difficult for me to teach because of the interruptions and the side conversations you are being disrespectful to not just me, but to your peers and to yourselves. I care about each and every one of you and you. I want to help you be successful. I want to help you be the person you want to be and to reach your personal goals. I want to help you realize your dreams, like mine of becoming a teacher. If you need help, I am happy to help you in any subject. If you need someone to listen, I want you to know you can come to me. My job is to help you reach your goals. But I can’t do my job when you are being disrespectful. So, today on there will be one warning. If I have to ask you a second time, I will ask you to go into the hallway and take the Rude Student Folder with you. You will wait outside the door and I will go over the rules with you. If you do not go to the library, you will be written up. If you do not work on the work in the folder, you will be written up. This is not the teacher I want to be. But this is the teacher I need to be so that those people in this class who want to learn are able to do so. I don’t want to write referrals. In the last five years, I have written 4 referrals. One was last week. I don’t like giving people referrals. But I will. And if your behavior continues, I will write as many referrals as it takes for your parents, Administration and you to realize that you need to get it together in my class. I am not going to tolerate rude and disrespectful behavior. Are there any questions? Just so you all know, my stomach is upset. I am not enjoying this, it isn’t fun for me. But it is what I need to do so that I can do my job of teaching you.
There was silence in the room throughout my whole talk. There was no question they understood me. They seemed shocked when I told them that they were ruining my dream. I also told them that to plan the fun activities we did (to help them learn) took a lot of time. It took more time for me to plan fun activities than the traditional activities (look the word up in the dictionary, etc.). I told them that I wanted them to learn and I thought we could have some fun doing it, but that it was more work for me that way.
When I finished my lecture, I gave them directions on what they were to do. They were to work on a writing assignment for 30 minutes. For the first 20 minutes, it was dead silent in the room. Then there was a little bit of talking. I told the kids that I didn’t mean that they couldn’t talk, but that they needed to keep things controlled and that they should not talk when I was talking. They were a little louder after that, but not anything like before.
When they finished the activity, we read some of our novel. For the most part, the kids listened. Which was wonderful. They participated in the discussion which was great and I was proud of them.
I am a little disappointed in me, though. I almost feel that I should have been able to gain control of my classroom without resorting to desperate measures. However, I am told that this group of kids is difficult. They are all good kids, but the combination of students makes for a difficult class AND that a number of experienced teachers have had difficulties with this combination.
Now, I will just have to wait to see what happens on Friday.