"but we're not doing anything, anyway!"

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by uscsoccer, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2011

    This is an issue that's come up in all of my classes the past two days- looking for feedback.

    Yesterday, my freshmen in my writing course had a final draft due for me. We had been working on anecdotes and some of the kids had some really great ones! I had a few kids volunteer to read their (short- four paragraphs) papers out loud in class when I asked. Some of my kids have a hard time getting their ideas down on paper and with organization, but they really shine when they get the draft finished and love to read them out loud, so I like to encourage them with that. Well, student A was sitting there as his classmate was reading, writing his final draft. I was of course walking around and monitoring the group, so I said, "A, that was homework. Put it away." He did, but when I came by again, he had it out again. I said, "A, I told you to put that away." His response was, "But we're not doing anything, anyway!" I told him that we were respecting our classmates by listening to them read. His response was that he could do both at once. I told him no, that I'd see him after school.

    Now, normally if kids were giving an oral report or something, I'd have the audience take notes or have an organizer to fill in, but this reading of the final drafts didn't take more than 10 minutes. Should I have done something differently?


    In my junior classes, I gave a vocab quiz and had the early finishers work on an assignment, which they were to finish for homework. Once everyone finished the quiz, I had them put the hw assignment away, and we moved on to reviewing the reading that they had the night before. Kids were asking questions about what they didn't understand from the text, which I found out a lot of them had struggled with. Now, in two of of my classes, I had a student who didn't put the hw assignment away. As I was walking around, I'd spot them and tell them to put it away. When I'd come around again, I'd notice that they still had it out, and tell them to put it away while I stood there. One responded by saying, "But we're not doing anything, anyway!" while the student in my last period class said, "But I understood the reading from last night! It's pointless for me to sit here and not do the homework!" I told them both that no, I'd see them after school.

    I couldn't have them after today, as we had a faculty meeting right after school, but they know they are staying with me tomorrow....

    Just a first-year teacher trying to work out all of the management issues- any advice is appreciated!
     
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  3. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Oct 6, 2011

    Honestly? My instant reaction is: so what?

    You want to ask yourself what can be eliminated versus what is a normal part of your classroom management. I think we sometimes imagine that classroom management is a secret weapon that will prevent students from challenging us, zoning out, or misbehaving.

    It's not. It's a method to deal with those things when the arise. AND THEY WILL.

    So one thing you could try is a realignment of your perception. Both students challenged you in a typical way. You reacted calmly, firmly, and with a minor but clear penalty. That's fine.

    Will they do it again? Maybe. That doesn't mean your classroom's badly managed.

    They call it "management" because there's no cure.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Oct 6, 2011

    I think you could do a little more with some focused discussion time. Rather than having your students read to the whole class, can they read to small groups? Then each group member can have something specific to look for or comment on as the writer reads. If you're going to do whole class instruction, I would limit it to just 3 or 4 short reads (of maybe 2 or 3 sentences).

    I would suggest the same when you are discussing the reading. I would set up a more focused discussion, and I would grade on participation.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oct 6, 2011

    For what it's worth, when I have students share, the audience is not to be giving their attention to other things. Not too much to ask...
     
  6. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2011

    Thanks for your replies, everyone! This board has been so helpful for me!
     
  7. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    Oct 18, 2011

    Two thoughts occurred to me as I read your post. You may take them or leave them.

    1) If it's okay with you to let students do homework in class, that's your choice and it may work fine for you. In my team we have a rule that homework is HOMEwork and is not to be done in school. We definitely always have other things for them to be working on at all times, but I think your students might be less hesitant to put something away if it isn't required to be finished that night. If they are not permitted to work on the homework in class at all, then it is never an issue of whether they can listen and work at the same time, because that work is not an option.

    2) Something to try would be waiting for 100% compliance. For instance, if you ask for everyone to put away their homework paper so that the class can respectfully listen to volunteers read, do not have the readers begin until every single person has followed the direction. This can be tedious, but I have found that the class in general becomes agitated with the one or two who are holding up the process and the one or two (usually) do not want to upset the class and hurry to do whatever has been asked. This typically takes place without protest because it becomes obvious that the students are waiting on each other, rather than having a battle of student vs. teacher. I hope that made sense.
     
  8. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    Nov 9, 2011

    Oneberry - great advice. I have found that positive peer pressure is highly motivating when getting kids to do something.
     
  9. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Nov 20, 2011

    What do you do when positive peer pressure doesn't work? I have tried to implement positive peer pressure almost every day, and there are some students who still haven't gotten the memo.
     

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