I was told never to yell to get kids attention. Many methods have been suggested such as talking quieter so students have to lower their voices as well, flickering the lights or making a silent signal (and practicing it the first day). Okay at my school – these kids respond to yelling and discipline. I realize this is not the “right” thing and there’s a part of me that doesn’t even want to blog about this for fear of judgement and criticism but you know what, a silent signal doesn’t friggin work. Maybe it would with the freshmen or sophomores perhaps even my juniors would be kind enough on a good day to let me be that hokey but the seniors – FORGET IT.
I overhear the seniors making fun of other teachers all the time and today they were particularly cruel to a new teacher at the school. He apparently uses a silent signal and guess what, it doesn’t work. What did I hear this lovely student suggest he do? “He should just tell us to shut the F up, I mean he puts his hand up like some idiot like that’s gonna work.” And honestly she’s kind of right because that’s what many of these students respond to since it is what they know.
One student has been giving me a hell of a time, shouting extremely disrespectful and disruptive things at me during class. Finally he walked out of class so my co-op told me to write him up. After class the student came up to me and lost it, I mean I thought I might get punched in the face. But I stayed calm (despite my terror) and told the student he needed to respect the rules of the classroom or else there would be consequences. Today he was an angel, will it last? Probably not, but today he didn’t call me any names so that was nice.
These students do not respect authority inherently. If you talk quieter, they don’t care. You have to earn the right to be heard. If you talk about something interesting sometimes lowering your voice does actually work but it’s when the engaging intro or classwork has ended and the procedural work has begun that the students can often tune out. I have to be tough but kind.
What I have noticed works really well is talking to them like adults. After class saying thank you for listening or please try to stay awake tomorrow or I really like your input so please keep participating. Individually addressing issues both good and bad to let the students know I’m noticing and I’m interested. I think the more students realize I am teaching them for their own learning and not for myself will lead to earning their respect and less behavioral outbursts. The new issue (isn’t there always one?) is how to get them to see I respect them, I’m tough and I can help if they let me.