Thursday, November 04, 2004

Crime and Punishment

Discipline has never been my strength. For the two years I worked with the youth group, I struggled to maintain control. The semester that I worked as a substitute teacher challenged my crowd control ability even more. Now we work at a school that has very lax policies and minimal procedures for dealing with behavior problems. When I stopped a second grade student from chasing another student around the classroom with a metal ruler and asked him to hand over his weapon, he answered with a loud NO. What then? The school has no set consequences for misbehavior and nothing ready made with which to threaten them (i.e. “go to the principal” or “stay in at recess”). I’ve been working out some discipline measures of my own with mixed results.

Fourth grade is a very difficult class. I have them at the end of the day, right before they have sports. One of the biggest challenges is to get them to keep their clothes on in the classroom as they want to change for sports. After weeks of struggling with them for their attention, I think I have finally found a solution: Mr. Graham-ometer. Mr. Graham is a middle-aged (for people who live to 100) British science teacher. The kids in elementary know him as the bule that yells at them. They are terrified of him. Sensing their terror yesterday, I came up with an idea. I told them that if they could not behave for me, then I would get Graham to switch places with me. I would teach his science class and he would teach their English class. They did not like this idea. Preying even further on their terror, I drew a tall, thin column on the board with several sections and labeled it “Mr. Graham-ometer.” When they are being loud or not paying attention, I fill in one of the sections. It works wonderfully.

Third grade is a wonderful class, full of excitement and eager to learn. They are convinced that I am a walking Barbie doll and sneak up behind me to touch my hair. While this class has won its way into my heart, they still have a few problems. They love to wander. They roam about the room as much as I let them. Today two girls kept getting up. I told them that if they got up again, I would give them a punishment. I looked up again and they were standing together away from their desks. I wrote “I will stay in my seat during class.” on the board and told them to write it twenty times. They cheerfully sat down to get started. A minute later, another girl came up to me and whispered in my ear, “Ma’am, can I make like Ester and Monica?” I looked at her confused and asked if she wanted to write the sentences. She nodded. With a strange look I said, “Okay.” In the end, four girls wrote the sentences. Although it wasn’t perceived as a punishment, it did keep them in their seats for the rest of the class time.

ps- could someone tell us how to do titles? or how to get kittens out of the roof?


Viator said...

Choosing a title for a post is like selecting a top hat to complement a new suit. The suit could conceivably go it alone, but a hat is a meet accoutrement, a tall invitation in silk and ribbon to examine the rest of the outfit, so long as they do not invite the eye to linger long before heading south.
So, by all means title!

As for removing kittens, I suggest dispatching to the attic a crew of not overly coquettish mice (or some such tidily tiny creature--perhaps the aptly-named Atticus?) equipped with clippings from the current issue of TIME magazine to inform them (the kittens, not the hats), of the US election results, whereupon I would expect them to recognize the wisdom of abandoning Indonesia (and in the process your attic) for a clime lest Muslim, and in less danger of foreign occupation.

Or leave opened tins of tuna on your neighbor's property, and wait.

Or forfeit worry by simply coming on home for a visit!

Anonymous said...

When dealing with children remember no system of rewards or punishment works forever, just enjoy it while you can!
When dealing with kittens provide them a way out if you a board or ramp they can scamper you know how the mother got up in the ceiling to give birth? Then put tuna fish at the bottom of the ramp and a trail of tuna to the neighbors yard....or on to a busy street....
Coming home for a visit is also a good option...hum.

Anonymous said...

Titles aren't necessary,they just take up time before you get to read the real stuff.

Suggestions for removing kittens.
1. Throw a big dog in the attic.
2. Go to your local military surplus store and get some Tear Gas Grenades, throw them in the attic.
3. Take the roof off so you can catch them, or, on the same line of thought, tear out the ceiling.
4. Dress up in a Mama cat costume and lure them out.
5. Cut a 2" hole in the ceiling at one end of the house. Using caulking, rags, or whatever is necessary , plug all other holes into the attic.Cut a smaller (1" hole at the other end of the house. Hook a large (I mean LARGE) vacuum cleaner to the 2" hole and turn it on.

On another note;
Is this ML or ML? Having the same initials can be confusing at times. Usually I can tell which ML it is by the content of the posting. I hope this is ML, Not ML, being followed around thought of as being a Barbie Doll.

From your anonymous father.