Thursday, September 15, 2005

Classroom Management and a Surprise

Just got the sweetest kind of surprise you can get from a boss that you don't find sexually attractive. I got a big pile of money! She said simply: "Taxes". I guess that somehow or other the less than 10% tax that I'm paying on each of my pay cheques was deemed too much for me to pay. So I got almost half of that back today for the 2004 tax year. Hurray! I love Korean taxes. But I didn't go on a piss. I'm over going on the piss in Korea for now. I've done that way too much and now I need to save so I can get down to the Philippines to see my girlfriends down there.

A very pleasant day today indeed. Angela seemed to have forgiven me for yesterday's transgression and my plan for dealing with the nastier type of classroom behaviour worked like a charm.

The plan:
  • Identify the worst behaviours and the worst perpetrators.
  • Explain to the perps (my favourite cop-show talk) immediately following the abhorrent action: "that's one, a second and third and you're out!".
  • Devise appropriate consequences (kicking them out can work but sometimes you need to implement something more drastic -- make them copy out 10 pages from the dictionary if they seem to enjoy dusting the hallway with their asses or send them to a stern colleague that you know will not make their visit a pleasant one).
  • Implement it immediately -- no additional warnings no preambles.
  • Most importantly -- Plan a Variety of Activities to Keep the Monotony to a Minimum and keep them on their toes.
  • Games, games, games, games and games. Make the most mundane thing into a competitive game and you'll have a winner.
Of course I also used some positive reinforcements as well. I started doling out the stickers a little more readily to the students that were doing things that were helping the flow of the lessons and subtracting points, or warning that I would, from students that were slowing things down by joking around and not being on task.

I've found that having teams, for almost all of my classes, and awarding points for performance and behaviour really helps to keep the miscreants under leash. At the end of the class the winning team gets the simple but highly touted honour of being the first individuals out the door when the bell rings. I've also started shopping for cheap star and heart stickers. You can get these for almost nothing at most shops and stationary stores. The kids absolutely love getting stickers! Sometimes I run out of them and the kids are beside themselves with grief: "Ah, teacher! No stickers!!!??? The students love to devise team names with increasingly complex descriptions: Golden, Silver Fire-dragon Team vs. the Green and Red Crazy Spiderman Team. Especially if you are a very poor or a very good artist make a special point of drawing pictures to represent the teams whenever possible. Even the lousiest. drawings I have made have been driven my students to fits of laughter and now they always demand that I draw a picture.

Student:"Teacher, drawing team name yes?"
Me: "Okay, I'll draw a picture for each team name."
Students:" Yeah! Tehehe, chortle, chortle, giggle, gophaw."

The teammates really do a good job of knocking each other into line especially if there are going to be some stickers at the end of the day. However, you really have to watch that the levels are pretty even between the teams or some students may adopt a fatalist attitude and start to seek the lowest score instead of the highest! Once, I had a class that I didn't watch carefully enough, the teams were very poorly weighted and I didn't spend much time considering how to even out the score. After about three classes of the same two students losing horribly with a nasty point spread the whole class was ruined for teams for the rest of the semester -- they became model underachievers -- It was so boring.

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