Category: classroom management

Total 39 Posts

dy/av : 003 : preview

I have found little use for teaching as it’s depicted on t.v. or in film. I decided long ago that teaching is just too weird a profession for the literal screen treatment, something like chasing a rhino with a butterfly net. My practice has been enriched far more often by t.v. shows and movies which have nothing directly to do with teaching.

Tomorrow’s episode excerpts the t.v. show which has done more for my classroom management than any other.

Motivating Questions

  1. From my experience, new teachers hear one maxim for classroom management at the expense of all others, one which is as irrelevant as it is prevalent. Any guesses?
  2. If you had to put a new teacher’s fate in the satisfaction of a single maxim (“Never wear green,” for one hypothetical example.) what would it be?

Recommended Reading

  1. Unfit For The Grind, concerning Chalk, possibly the best teacher movie I have ever seen. Which, of course, is as faint as praise comes around here.
  2. Career Crisis #2 (of 2), concerning Freedom Writers, which I didn’t care for one little bit.
  3. The Truest Stuff I’ve Ever Watched or Written, concerning a scene from The Wire which has nothing directly to do with teaching but which has somehow formed the core of my interactions with deeply confrontational students.
  4. David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Commencement Address, my favorite author in a walk, to whom this next episode owes a debt.

Make Sure Your Stick Is A Stick

My fiancée and I, this weekend, attended what for reasons of space will be described as “professional development for engaged couples.”

There were threats all throughout the literature: if you left early, brought a cell phone, left the grounds at all, or committed any number of minor-league infractions, you would not receive a certificate of completion.

Nope. Don’t – no, y’know – just stop begging. Stop it. You were seven-and-a-half minutes late to our noon session. No certificate.

Thing was, me and my girl didn’t much care for a certificate. And after it became evident our presenters were going to read from a script all day, we left.

The relevance of this anecdote to classroom management is left as an exercise to the reader.

My Students Have My Mobile Number

Per the demands of an outdoorsy, running around-type review exercise, I gave my students my cell number two months back. Since then, I have received 23 unsolicited text messages. The first three were overly familiar, the sort you might call pranks, one of which read:

we’re your favorite students right. this is [name redacted].

These are the sort you just ignore. Accordingly, the next one read:

text back loser!!

The following twenty have each been scholarly, appropriately curious, and sent between a high school math teacher’s typical waking hours. They receive immediate response. A recent sample:

Whats the code for the Feltron project on excel, sum… Plus something?

Perhaps I dodged a bullet here. I’m pretty sure, though, that a lot of this was bound up in how I presented it: as an adult-type moment, access which they were free to squander if that’s how they wanted it, but which (I also told them) I had every reason to believe they’d enjoy responsibly.

Disincentive the negative. Reinforce the positive. Students are puppies.

The Hardest Thing Lately

The hardest part of my day is ignoring Miles. I say hello to everyone before class, but not Miles. I kinda stare off past him, interesting myself in some shrubbery or a cloud, or I pretend to see a friend from my childhood far across the courtyard. He slumps past me, head low, hatred for all of humanity hanging over his head like a cloud.

It sucks, but every day I say hello to him, he’s sullen for two hours. Every day I act as diffident as he is to pleasantries like “hello” he’s fired up all period and eager to please.

I mean, what would you do?


Students As Dolphins

My TA (name’s Katy, perhaps you’ll recall) works at a veterinary hospital after school, holding down German Shepherds twice her size for vaccinations.

She was talking to me the other day about reinforcers and punishments, how punishments are so much less effective than reinforcers ’cause animals will modify their behavior just enough to avoid them and no further.

She also said that punishments are plainly ineffective with open water animals like dolphins, which can’t be caged up, or sent outside, or sent to their rooms for punishment.

They just swim away.

This anecdote’s application to classroom management is left as an exercise to the reader.