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Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Failure To Communicate …


Communication is the key. Most teachers will tell you that they have “A Look”.

When some student in class isn’t paying attention or is pushing the limits of a teacher’s patience or just plain defiant, the teacher will give them “The Look”.

The message is clear. “Enough is enough! Knock it off, NOW! Get back to work!”

Most of the time, the targeted student will get the message and comply…at least for a while.

For me, I’ve found that simply standing and without saying a word, staring at the kid in question will provide a quieting affect within less than a minute. Even if the “kid” has his back to me, the room will eventually go quiet until the oblivious “kid” is the only one in the room still ignoring me, yakking away.

Eventually the “kid” will notice that the classroom environment has suddenly “chilled” and get the message. Sometimes the clueless one needs a table mate to nudge and point in my direction that he’s missing an important communiqué about desired classroom behavior.

If that doesn’t work, a raised eyebrow and a look of incredulity to the rest of the class will usually generate a few giggles from the rest of the class to get his attention.

Rarely, will a kid dare to push beyond that point.

A 6th grade boy, named after a famous outlaw, in Wednesday’s class is one such rare case. Having failed several attempts to end his antics in showing off for his two buddies in class, I approached him one-on-one, in his face, and in a low voice have a point blank conversation:

Me: “This isn’t working for me or the class. This is a final warning. The next time I have to deal with your acting up in the classroom, you will be spending some time in the office. Clear?”

Outlaw: “Yes, sir.”

As I’m walking away, I hear Outlaw tell his buddies “He has bad breath…”

I pretend not to hear the comment and things remain pretty good for a while until they return from lunch when Outlaw starts up again. I remind Outlaw of our earlier conversation and his comment to me is:

Outlaw: “I think a visit to the office would be nice…”

Me: “You got it!”

I call the office and ask if I could send a student down for a little timeout. They tell me to send him on down.

Outlaw: “I’m not going!… ”

Me: “What do you mean, ‘You’re not going’?… ”

Outlaw: “I’m not going!… ”

The class goes dead silent. (Long pause…)

Me: “Fine, I’ll have Principal D. come here to talk to you about that.”

(I start dialing the phone…)

Outlaw: “Ok, I’m GOING!!”

I sent a trusted student with him to make sure he didn’t lose his way to the office. I called the office secretary again to let her know that 10-15 minutes of “quite contemplation” on his part should be enough before they should let him come back.

Office: “Oh, he’ll be longer than that. The principal wants to have a word with him before he’s allowed to return.”

I believe that I have finally communicated my message to Mr. Outlaw. We’ll see the next time I sub this class.

I think I'll start with “The Look”…


Pigs said...

Love it. I have perfected The Look, but I agree with your staring technique with older kids. I love bringing them into the mix to help with a little peer pressure.

Magpie Chick said...

My favorite tactic is to stand in front of the class and look horribly bored: rolling my eyes, sighing hugely, checking my watch, just generally looking unimpressed. I find that High School kids respond best to this, the littler ones just don't appreciate good sarcasm ;)

Anonymous said...

Sadly, we've all been there ... luckily, the Office backed you up. Two years ago, a 2nd grader who was swatting at the kids (and me) with any object he could get his hands on was (a.) kicked out of the class (by me) only to be (b.) sent right back in five minutes by an office that was (I quote) "too busy to deal with him." I took matters into my own hands, moved his desk into the hallway, away from the window and closed the door.

Zoemonster said...

The Look is a great tactic:))

BTW.. blawgrolling (how to) still befuddles This Pea Brain