Have you read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? If you haven’t, I recommend you do. The concept of one event tipping the scales to start an epidemic or an event is quite interesting. By the way, his book Blink is fascinating also…
I have a tipping point in my gangsta class. Honestly, four weeks ago I wouldn’t have worried about their behavior for a sub. I have my share of kids that given the opportunity, could choose to behave poorly. But for whatever reason, they were under control, didn’t antagonize each other and did their work. At the start of a new quarter I had several students added to my class. Some were added because they moved to the area. One was court ordered to come to school. And one was in a different class and someone realized that he had
failed not earned credit in Algebra 1 and needed to make it up to succeed in other classes. He’s a repeater.
The repeater was gone on Friday. Guess what? My class was back to normal – the way it was before repeater was added. We had a good time, joked around, learned some math and got things done. I didn’t have to constantly police my room.
What I realized is that this one kid is the tipping point. He’s an attention seeker with a low attention span. He’s completely capable of learning, but I haven’t figured out the trick to avert the poor behavior. Maybe if I make a game out of it with myself it won’t piss me off so much… I’ve already tried calling the parent. It’s one of those standard cases where you talk to the parent and say to yourself, “no wonder the kid has issues.” While I try to sort this out, I still have to figure out how to contain the poor behavior without letting it completely disrupt the rest of my class and short change the other 30 kids. Oh yeah, and get them to learn some math while I’m at it.
I’m a math teacher. But more accurately, I feel like I’m a wizard at juggling behavior. With the NCLB act, all teachers have to be highly qualified and pass very difficult tests to get licensed. But I’m pretty sure there is no PRAXIS test for classroom management. And before you can be effective at all in teaching your subject matter, you have to be able to juggle everything else that gets thrown at you. Some things just can’t be measured with a test.