“We need to talk about the sophomores. They need more structure–things are happening that you are missing.” My principal
I face an uphill battle. For years, some of my students have played the game–is mom looking? They wait for that moment, when the teacher isn’t watching, to misbehave. If my classroom were teacher centered, it would be less of a problem. But here I am, asking them to work independently while I work with small groups or individual students. They are in circles throughout the room. Often, my back is to the mischief makers. And so, books are knocked off desks. Parts of erasers are thrown across the room. Sometimes, even desks are knocked over. Do I suspect certain students? Of course I do. They want me to.
The teacher/student relationship has been adversarial for them most of their lives. To them, I am the enemy; my goal is to bore them and make their lives difficult, and they are getting their own back. I hate it.
So few of my students care about grades. Grades do nothing for them; they are the reward that students who care receive. My mischief makers don’t care about punishment, either. If I catch them, they deny it and distract more students than ever. If I ignore it, they escalate till I must do something about it.
But do I give up? Give them worksheets and sit them in rows? Punish them all due to the misbehavior of a small number? How do I get the buy in? I care about my students. I want them all to succeed (yes, even the one who routinely questions what we do every day). I want them to realize that school can be about real life, not just a game that we play against each other.