Thursday, October 30, 2008

Passion, student behaviour and being fiery

One of the issues in classes today that stems from the home is that students have trouble accepting that a teacher has authority in the classroom. At home they argue with parents in a very democratic fashion. Students believe (wholeheartedly) that they have a right of reply to any misconception that they face.

I must admit this gets me fired up especially in my 'A' class. Any student willing to take responsibility for the care, nurture, learning needs and welfare of thirty students, get a degree as a minimum requirement for teaching can have my job if they can prove they would do it better. Until they do this, if I ask a student to be quiet or stand in the hall, see the team leader, copy off the board or attempt a question they may believe they can't do, I expect them to attempt to follow my expectation.

They will fail sometimes, and this is ok. This does not give them a right to argue and waste teaching time. It should prompt some introspection as to why they didn't understand how to do it and hopefully seek assistance from friends, pay more attention when solutions are put on the board or seek assistance at an opportune moment during class or after class. Maybe it would be a good idea to get them to journal why they have had such trouble understanding a concept and identify ways they could better understand a topic. Bringing the correct materials to class (eg. CAS calculators, pens, paper, texts), paying attention during instruction, fostering friendships with those that do understand, reading their notes (and keeping them in a place they can be used) - attending school regularly (my favourite) and catching up after sickness may be a good start.

These students do not have a right to insist on help at a time that suits them. To use a claim for help to justify poor or avoidant behaviour is not acceptable. I would love to be able to provide just-in-time intervention to every student all of the time. In a class of thirty it just is not possible. The belief that getting instant help is a right is infuriating and I don't know where it is being fostered. Maybe I should enquire into how many are only children (and thus do not have to compete for attention) and also examine my own methods of helping during practice time (maybe I am a contributer to the problem!).

When instructed on where their actions are errant I expect nothing less than silence especially with those talking during teaching time - this is done in the hall outside my room. Try my patience and half the school hears. It's fun watching them open their mouth and then hear them "but you won't let me talk to explain". If you talk during my teaching time and I have to stop the only thing I wish to hear is I'm sorry and then see an end to that behavior. Woebetide the student that interupts me again. My other students have the right to learn and it must be protected.

There must be a line between teacher expectation and student behaviour. There must be a consequence if this is crossed. A lecture, for many of my kids is enough to get the message. If they get the message, no further consequence. If it continues -they start the path to BMIS.

The argumentative nature of students at correct times needs to be fostered (we don't want meek students) - but it must be cultivated with manners and knowledge that there is a time and place to discuss the finer points of an issue. I always offer time after class for extra assistance and am happy to discuss any issues or problems from a class at this time. Funnily enough rarely is this offer taken up by these students during lunch or their own time.

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