mathinaz

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 27 2010

Pissing Match

Classic new teacher mistake: Getting into a pissing match with a middle school boy in front of an entire classroom.

Never, ever, ever do this. Ever. Avoid at all costs. Because it will never be pretty and you will always always always lose.

I made this mistake today. I haven’t made it in awhile, and that’s done wonders for my classroom management. Unfortunately, my patience has been low this week and I was inevitably going to slip up someday. Today was the day.

A boy and a girl kept talking during my class. I gave them a warning, and then they did it again. I got irritated and sent them to go stand in the back of the class, telling them that if they were so desperate to talk they could go to the back, chat all they wanted, and quit wasting my time. I was pretty mad, and getting permission to talk like that tends to make kids actually shut up and listen. They sat at the back table instead of standing in the back as directed, but I ignored it because they also started paying attention and taking notes. Then, after a few minutes, they started talking AGAIN. alskdhaldjghadaekjheru. I told them – very sternly – that it was time to actually get up and stand in the back, because they clearly couldn’t handle themselves being part of the class. The girl got scared and scurried to where I’d told her. The boy, on the other hand, was not about to back down to me. I was being disrespectful to him (oops) in front of all his friends (double oops) and he had a point to prove. So he didn’t move. (NOOOOOOO this is the point of no return. No smooth way for both sides to win here. The entire point of classroom management is avoiding getting to this moment.) I repeated my direction (too angrily), and he asked what would happen if he didn’t. (Challenged.) I told him he could get out of my classroom. (Threat.) He picked up his stuff and stormed out. (One point, student.) I went back to teaching.

I talked to him one-on-one later, and he was perfectly respectful and sorry and understood why he was in trouble and accepted his detention no problem. He would have been like this originally if I had just walked to the back and dealt with him nicely. Instead I scolded him across the room and ended up sending a kid out of my class for the first time all year. I’m not even calling his mom to report it because I feel so much like it was my fault.

Mind you, last year this happened a million times and I would never have been so hard on myself. I probably wouldn’t have even been angry if kids had been talking so quietly and so infrequently. But this year I KNOW BETTER. Sometimes that makes it harder.

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Middle School

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