I am taking a classroom management class at school. Being assertive and authoritative continues to be my "growing edge" as a teacher. Part of it is because I have this strange desire to teach ninth graders, but my students are usually a tad misbehavin' until around November when, for some reason, they settle down and start working my program. But it always seems like such a crap shoot--like I'm not in control of what happens, good or bad.
Enter Love and Logic.
Their website does not make a good first impression on this teacher of English. Over pictures of happy parents and happy children, it reads:
"Kids don't come with an owner's manual...But I found one, It's Love and Logic."
Painful, right? Do I want to be instructed on how to guide children by those who cannot write a sentence correctly? I make errors all the time, but their headline treatment is plain awkward. Plus, it doesn't really make sense, does it? I mean, I found something that doesn't exist--like peace in a classroom of thirteen ninth grade boys right before lunch?
But let's get away from presentation and get to the content.
For week 1, the following is my lesson: "Go brain dead." I like this lesson. In fact, I may be terrifically good at this whole classroom management thing. Especially on Fridays.
Jokes aside, I actually see how the method could be helpful. When a student starts to argue with you, just go, um, brain dead and respond to the arguing with a catch phrase like "I know" or "I hear you," which you repeat over and over until the kid shuts up or goes away.
I like to explain why I do teach what I teach and how I've graded what I've graded. I think that's part of my job. But every once in awhile, like everyday, some kid just wants to argue. The student may be trying to avoid responsibility for not completing an assignment or for cheating. The student may have had a pissy morning with mom and dad and want to get a rise out of any adult around. This Love and Logic method apparently puts water on their fire and diffuses the situation.
As one of my deans says, some students like to create "a cloud of confusion." I am susceptible to this cloud. The student talks and talks, and I end up giving partial credit or accepting a late assignment when I don't think it's justified.
So, it's worth a try, but I need to carefully choose my catch phrase. The repetition of "thank you for sharing" or "good try" could easily sound extremely snarky coming out of my mouth. I'm told teenagers are not developmentally able to grasp sarcasm, which I need to remind myself of frequently.
I don't usually go in for overly prescriptive behavior management methods. For example, there's no Ferberizing for my baby, which is probably why she still wakes up for a little nurse and snuggle about eighty-seven times a night. I'm a crazy, sleep-deprived mother, but hopefully she will be a secure and happy little person. But while I will not let hipbaby "cry it out," I am open to training in the classroom.
I am open to not being so freakin' nice all the time.
Even if I have to broken in to do it. I think.