The Mississippi Teacher Corps role plays that I’ve been partaking in 2 hours a day 5 days a week have been quite helpful and quite inconvenient at the same time. Helpful because they are real situations that most likely I will encounter and the feedback is usually pretty excellent advice on how to deal with situations. Though, after a long day of teaching and just wanting get back, eat something simple and quick and get to lesson planning, all in an attempt to avoid staying up all night working, they also feel quite inconvenient. The help that they are providing me does however outweigh my negative feelings to them and am grateful for the experiences they push upon me after it is all over with.
I video taped a role play last week where essentially three students were to misbehave. Of course, I had no idea of any of these plans as I stepped into the classroom, this was just the facilitators’ plans. One student was crumpling and throwing papers into a trash can, another was persistently getting out of his seat, and finally another was a total goof ball who was bored and had no fear of authority.
As I entered the classroom I explained the directions to my made up Moon phases assignment, passed out papers, and had them working. Right away I saw one student throwing papers into the trash can, which was followed by a firm warning. Unfortunately I did not take the other two crumpled papers that were ready and waiting on his desk, for the moment I turned my back they would be airborne. As I was dealing with the paper throwing I had my back turned to a student across the room who was getting out of his seat and wandering the room. I very firmly had him return to his seat and get to work.
At this point into the video, I noticed that when I gave consequences to these students my shoulders became more broad and my voice more powerful, but when I would be roaming the room not dealing with misbehavior my shoulders would slump and I would not look as confident.
Before I was able to regain composure in my thoughts, the student throwing papers started that up yet again and I had to go further into the consequences—When I really should have just made him clear his desk of those papers and warn him if he crumpled up another paper that he would be getting a detention. At this point, I again turned my back to the antsy student at the other side of the room and he had changed seats. I told him to get back to his seat and that he has a writing assignment while I dealt with student number three who was at first very bored and seemed to want to play with items he had found near his desk.
What I realize now at this point, is that these students, all of them, were not disrupting my learning environment. They were simply acting out because they needed some alternative instruction—I needed to re-focus them on the assignment.
The bored student who had found some items started playing with them and a took them from him. The student who was getting out of his seat, antsy, was then immediately thrown out of the room to wait for a hall conference as I saw him change seat again. He was pretty sad at that point and I felt bad, because, again he was disrupting anyone at that point. Thankfully, the message got to the student throwing papers and he was focused on his work. As I was heading to the hall conference I noticed the good ball student who was bored was playing with a projector cap and was using it as a monocle. I firmly told him to put that in my hand, but he refused after three of my requests. I then wrote a referral for insubordination as I had a hallway conference with the antsy student. He had a choice of a referral or to go back to his original seat and get to work. he took option two, thankfully. And it was a cut.
I did so much wrong in this role play. I didn’t think about what they needed or why they were acting out. Instead, I jumped on them with consequences immediately and the situations were not diffused, but rather, they got much much worse.
If I were to do it again, I would have proximity with the antsy student who wanted to get out of his desk AND if he really needed to get up, allowed him to stand up in the back of the room and do some jumping or something. I would have done a seat change with the bored student. And I would have nailed the paper throwing student immediately with a warning followed by a detention (and made him walk over and throw his papers away.). Essentially, these students were only a distraction to themselves and my class as a whole. I needed to deal with them individually and rengage them, rather than punishing them up the ladder. Next time I will first think to myself, “what does that student need?” and “how can I provide that to them?”