Tuesday, December 14, 2010



I am fed up with that last General Music class of the day.  They've completely pushed me over the edge.  The behavior of almost every person was erratic and unquestionably unforgivable.  I couldn't hold their attention for more than two seconds (and there were paper airplanes (!!!) on the floor after class).  Clapping a one-measure rhythm pattern with a class of 7th-graders should never result in students banging on desks and wildly jumping out of their seats.

I once gave in and asked a question that shouldn't be asked; "I've seen you all in other classes and I know you can focus better than this.  What is it that other teachers do that I don't that makes you behave better for them?"  Their answer was uniformly, "They yell at us."

I'm trapped.  Modern pedagogical theory takes the stance that yelling is, most often, counterproductive, as a culture of expected submission is much less educationally valuable than one of mutual respect.  Well, I've pushed the respect approach as far as it can go.  I don't claim to be some sort of pedagogical paragon, but I realize now that I've been fighting against a culture that does not foster the kind of classroom management that I've been trained to provide.

We have to punish them.  Tomorrow we'll have them sit in an outward-facing circle and do individual work without speaking to any other students, or at all unless they raise their hand and are called on.

Hmph.  I think everything else was fine today.  I can't even think straight.


  1. Unfortunately, the class that you are dealing with contains children who react best to the exact type of environment you are trying to avoid. Sometimes they are only able to "respect" those who present themselves as completely authoritative and, for lack of a better word, "mean." They are not mature enough to be reasoned with, and must be dictated to. They tend to be followers, and need a domineering leader in order to be successful...most likely for the rest of their lives.

  2. "Authoritative" is an excellent descriptor. I'll talk more about the value I see in that in the 12/15 post.

    Regarding the rest of what you said, I have to admit that it's difficult to be naïve and know it. The idealist in me thinks that everyone can reach a level of maturity, self-regulation, and independence well beyond what they exhibit. Though the realist in me understands that that's not the case, the idealist is dominant.