Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sub Adventures #15: High School Health in Washington Heights (Days 2 & 3)

Yesterday, there wasn't much to write about. I arrived on-time, most students were rowdy and didn't complete assigned work, and I became incredibly frustrated.

Today, I reset the tone and mood for the problematic classes. The first two periods were nearly empty as the juniors had left for their three-day college trip. In period one, there were only two students. In period two, there were none! So, I enjoyed an additional impromptu prep period. Period 3, 5, and 6 were my problematic classes (9th and 10th graders). For the past two days, they've been getting away with yelling, throwing paper balls and pens, touching one another, wandering the classroom, and not completing the assigned work. Not today.

I made sure to stand at the front of class, urging students to come in quickly and take a seat. When it was time to begin class, I shut the door and considered those students loitering outside late. I told them to find a seat where they would okay for the next three days because I'm doing a seating chart. Once everyone settled down, I went around and had students write their first and last names down. Knowing someone's name gives you a certain level of power over them. In the case of students, I could now hold students accountable for their behavior. After completing seating chart, I reviewed expected behaviors:

"The way you've been acting for the past two days? Not happening anymore. You guys know exactly what kind of behavior is expected in the classroom and I'm not going to accept anything else. So, no yelling. Cell phones? You know you shouldn't have them out. I don't want to see them or hear them. Keep your hands to yourselves. Stay seated unless you have a purpose for being up. And I don't want to see anything flying across the room. If I see any of this, you won't get a warning, I'll simply write you up and send you to the dean. Now, our task for today . . . "

Sure, there were still students who didn't complete the work, but their behavior was a lot more appropriate. I could now call certain students by name to bring attention to their behavior. And the fact that I knew their names made the students reluctant to misbehave.

By reestablishing my authority in the class and gaining control, I was able to get to know the students a little more and enjoy my time there. I expect the rest of the week to continue just as smoothly as long as I remember that consistency is key.

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