Thursday, March 12, 2009

More tales from the classroom

There is one class. Their teacher hates them. She told me that out of the 30 kids, maybe two are at performing at their nine-year-old level. When I am in the classroom next door, I can always hear her yelling at the top of her lungs. There are always three or four of them being punished at recess. No teacher wants to take the class next year. No one can control them.

I used to hate these kids. At the beginning of the year, I would stand outside the door before I entered the classroom, giving myself a prep talk. 'It's only 45 minutes,' I would tell myself. 'You can do this.'

Now, six months in, I'm not afraid of them. They continue to be a challenge, but I'm determined to get and maintain control of this class.

The fact that I am 22 years old with no teaching experience doesn't help my situation. But I think not being French does help. If I were French, I would lose my temper every time a kid gets out of turn. Then I woud get in the kid's face and scream. If he talked back to me, I would scream louder. Then he would either cry, or rudely mumble under his breath. Either way, I would scream some more.

But like I said, I'm not French. So I'm doing it the American way. Which is stickers.

At the beginning of class, they each get these name cards. If they are too chatty, or reading comics at their desks or smacking each other with their rulers, I take their cards. The kids who are able to hold onto their cards until the end of class get a sticker. I promised a prize to the person with the most stickers at the end of the year.

It kinda works, but once the kids lose their cards, they have no reason to be good. So I adapted my method a little. Now I also give out stickers during class to students who answer questions. The other day, I got almost 100% participation, which is huge, considering I usually have between two and three volunteers. Also, when there is the instant gratification of getting a sticker on the line, they shut up; another rare occurrence with this class.

I'm not saying I've found the perfect solution to transform these into angel children, but maybe I'm getting there. Even if I don't succeed, at least I am learning something valubale. Outsmarting children into behaving well entails thinking like children think.

1 comment:

LaurenW said...

ummm i am going to use this next year :) you are wonderful, betsy! you should be very proud of yourself for how hard you have worked. miss you and let's chat soon!