Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Daily Assignment #39: When things go badly, whose fault is it anyway?

Have you ever had a class where you dreaded the students coming in.  Or, you're teaching in the front of the class and you feel all alone and you look out over a sea of confusion, fooling around and/or disruptive behavior.

Is it your fault?  You've prepared, what you thought, great lessons.  What happened?  How did you lose them?  Or, are they just a bad class?  They wouldn't get your lesson anyway.  They're not like this for Mr. B's math class, why are they like this in my class?  They just don't like me.  These are all typical questions and comments when things are going badly.

This is a time to reflect on yourself as a teacher.  It is easy to blame the students for management problems but a lot of times it is us, and we just don't see it.

Jon Saphier has addressed this topic, at length, in his book The Skillful Teacher, Chapter 8, Discipline.  You can actually download this chapter for $15.95.  You can also purchase the whole text for $39.95.
I highly recommend this book for your professional library.

Saphier's list 12 Causes of Disruptive or Inattentive Behavior:

  1. Poor general management
  2. Inappropriate work
  3. Boring Instruction
  4. Confusing instruction
  5. Unclear standards, expectations, and consequences
  6. Student ignorance on how to do the expected behaviors
  7. A need for fun and stimulation
  8. Value and culture clashes
  9. Internal physical causes
  10. External physical causes
  11. Extraordinary emotional baggage
  12. Student's sense of powerlessness.
I'm not going to go into detail on each of these because I really want to encourage you to read this chapter yourself.  However, you can get a general idea of what you need to think about while reflecting by just reading the list.

If you are still struggling with what might be the causes, during reflection, you might want to ask a colleague to come in, observe, collect data and share it with you.  Mr. B might be the perfect person.

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Best Effort,

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