Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Difference a Kid Makes!

I had such a nice day today. I'm sure you can guess why--no Loud Leo!

Chatty Chad is no longer an issue (because the issue went over my head, and rightly so) and so now Loud Leo is the primary issue in the class. I cannot control or manage him--he often chooses not to control or manage himself. He's loud, overtly opinionated, and a bully. He seems to like 'starting' things. It's such a constant that a lot of it doesn't even bother me anymore, because really, it could be so much worse. He only rarely throws things, he's not violent, and he isn't usually disrespectful to me.

Anyway, without him we had a lovely day! Our writing period was heavenly, I tell you--hard work and good work from every single student! The classroom was quiet as all the kids busily wrote clear paragraphs using specific details. I was so proud! Kick ass!

I did a bit of science at the end of the day and it was kind of a mess and chaotic. It was annoying for me (I hate chaos!), but the kids were having a good time, even though not much was really happening. Give kids a bit of dirt and some seeds and there you go!

I've been trying to work on my patience and voice level. For the first few weeks I was even-keeled and everything, but for the past few weeks I have definitely regained an edge to my tone at times. Not like that's necessarily a bad thing; I think a good teacher needs to have That Tone sometimes. I was probably relying on it more lately instead of occasionally. So this week I'm trying to find a better balance and remind myself to say encouraging things to students, as a group and as individuals.

They do seem to love me back a little bit. Occasionally they like to do something stupid and notice that I'm smiling or laughing, and they point at me, "Miss, you're smiling!" And I hide behind a hand and deny it and they giggle and say, "Yes you are!"

All this to say that this week has actually been pretty decent so far, and, AND I left school at six o' clock today! I could have left sooner had I not dallied chatting with my teacher neighbor, but also it kind of felt wrong. Surely there's some more I should be working on! Surely I'm just getting started on my to-do list!

But, and I fully realize this gives the Universe license to kick my ass back to last Tuesday, I'm kind of, sort of, actually....getting ahead. That four hours on the weekend was definitely a good idea. I've got this week done, and next week (complete with copies ready!), and have started on the week after that. God forbid, I may really and truly *actually* get to get home at a decent hour for the rest of the week!


ms. v. said...

Try this. It takes nerves of steel, but it works more often than you'd think.

That kid wants attention. Negative attention is still attention. So you have to switch the incentives so that the ONLY way he gets attention is by doing what YOU want him to do.

When he starts something up, ignore it. Then, if you have to address it because it's bothering others, make a bland comment to the whole class like, "The way we get attention in this class is by participating and raising our hand before we speak." Don't look at him when you say this or betray any emotion.

Next step - a calm, business-like, impersonal, BRIEF warning. "Chad, if you continue to _____, I will find you a seat by yourself. I hope you will choose to participate instead."

Then do your thing. If necessary, remove him. But - and this is the tough part - no emotional response at all. Nothing.

Now, once he does what you want, reward it very naturally with attention. Don't overdo it, but *almost* overdo it. Call on him when his hand's up. Invite him up to participate in a demo or a problem on the board. Or whatever.

None of this is that different from what we do all day with every kid, except that it's a more-consciously applied strategy. He's manipulating everyone around him - you're going to solve the puzzle by manipulating him right back! NO EMOTION - that's the key - unless he does the right thing. He doesn't get extra time from you, he doesn't get to see you get frustrated, he doesn't get to feel special AT ALL except by doing the right thing.

Worth a shot?

kathleen said...

Ditto, Ditto everything Ms V said!!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I'm glad that things are improving for you!

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