I'm beginning to understand how to discipline my 9th graders, if by no other way than based on their quirks. There were a few things Mrs. T. told me in preparation: For example, late work was to be accepted (at least, for each quarter students were permitted to submit work by the end of that particular quarter); furthermore, students were not to be given Fs as final grades. I don't know if these are school policies or a district policies, but there are different levels of ridiculous in both.
Beginning today, I incorporated some new rules:
- Mrs. T. had read A Christmas Carol aloud in class. I can see why she would; doing so makes sure the students are technically exposed to the text, but I want them to actually read also. On alternating days I make them read that day's pages, quietly and to themselves. If I don't make them responsible for reading a certain number of pages, they don't follow along or otherwise pay attention.
- Students may not use the Hall Pass before we've done the reading for the day. (We're currently reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which the students don't especially like, and they look for reasons to get out of reading it or hearing it read.)
- Fridays are SSA (Silent Sustained Reading) day. The day is abbreviated (classes begin at 10 a.m. and are only 34-35 minutes long), and students are permitted to go to the library. However, for the first 15 minutes of class, students must read, and after that, no one in the class may go to the library or use the Hall Pass if anyone has been talking. (Three classes lost the privilege of going to the library today because of students who continued to talk.)