Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 05 2012

Structure Wins!

Remember this kid? He was constantly calling out in class, trying to get attention, and I finally came down really hard on him. I put him on a really tight leash in my classroom (two call-outs = detention, no matter if the entire rest of the class is calling out nonstop. You’ve already irritated me, so now the rules are different for you) and then enforced it consistently every day. After his first detention he was perfect, but he was also furious. He was silent mostly because he was just sulking in my class, brooding miserably on what a terrible, mean teacher he’d decided I was.


But kids love structure. I’ve said that a million times, and yet I still feel this huge relief every time the concept comes through for me. No matter how angry he was acting, I stuck to my rules. He stayed quiet, and started focusing, and started learning in class. In our first class back after vacation, he called out once and I gave him his warning. He then raised his hand to comment, with a little bit of awe, on how surprised he was that I’d remembered. He was testing me, and then went right back to silence.


Then at the end of today, we had an all-grade meeting. Trying to make a point, someone asked the kids to count how many trusted adults were in the room. The kids all started loudly counting all twelve teachers around them, but this kid didn’t. He whispered for my attention, and then pointed one finger in the air at me. You’re my one trusted adult in this room.


I thought you said you hated me, buddy. Structure wins, again!



3 Responses

  1. Sam

    I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. I, also, feel very strongly that children secretly crave structure. Congrats on your accomplishment :)

  2. That’s so awesome! Being a karate instructor, I never get tired of stories about the success of structure. Mostly because (like anyone) I find it hard to stick to it, but stories like these keep me inspired. Thanks for posting.

  3. MzHill

    I have had to learn this lesson many times with “trying” students. I am still working on my consistency. I WAS one of those students!! Thank God for special teachers who are willing to be hated in order to gain respect.

    Click Here!

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