Thursday, September 10, 2015

Student Behavior

A few thoughts that have been rattling around in my mind since school started three weeks ago.

At the beginning of the year, I asked my students what would make the class less uninteresting, and what they expected from me. There were a range of answers, but by and large they wanted me to treat them with respect, to teach them what they needed to know, but not to teach reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Some noted that they didn't want a lot of "free" days - they wanted to be taught important things. I neglected to actually ask what things they think they need to know, so within the next week or two I'm going to have a few classes in which we figure that out, but clearly there's a slight disconnect between what students think they need to know and what teachers think they need to know. Obviously, I can't guarantee that what I teach them will be of use to them, except I'm pretty sure that writing, reading, and spelling will come in handy at some point.

Many of my students don't think I can see them using their phones when I've explicitly asked them not to. I've tried establishing a policy in which students may use their phones for the last 15 minutes of class but they keep forgetting that I can actually tell when they're texting.

The seniors especially so badly want to be treated like the adults they are, but they don't quite know what that means, nor do they quite know what it means to treat the adults in their life like adults. The students still have to follow what they believe to be ridiculous rules. For example, today a student asked if she could go to the restroom (or get a drink, I forget which), but both she and a friend disappeared for upwards of 10 minutes. When they came back with vending machine snacks, I told them that that they had been gone far too long ("We've only been gone for five minutes!"); that they would not be permitted to leave together; and that they would have to go one at a time. I got a slight eyeroll, which didn't bother me in the slightest.

Students think that adult behavior means that one can do whatever one wants, free of repercussions. Adult behavior is not, in fact, that, though.

On a sillier note, I've been hanging "tearable puns" both on my door and around the corner from my door; the puns on my door get pulled off less regularly than those in the hall, but earlier today I overheard one student point out my puns; they also stood in the door to try to figure out the brainteaser I have projected in the front of the classroom. (My desk is hidden from view.) Two other students whom I didn't know came in to try to figure out the answer to today's brainteaser. ("Question: If today is Tuesday, what is the day after the day before the day before tomorrow?" Answer: Tuesday.) Because we run on an A/B schedule, I change the brainteaser every other day.

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