A "Good" Class Gone "Bad" . . . and Back to "Good" Again
When five new students showed up in the same week, one inner-city teacher's classroom quickly descended into chaos. Aware that behavior problems were taking the joy (and learning) out of his classroom, this teacher worked toward identifying practices that would bring his students together as a community of learners.
Since the disruption occurred shortly after the beginning of the semester, the teacher was able to clear the slate and start everyone with an A. He also completely changed the seating chart to minimize behavior problems and to reflect the new beginning.
Through regular reflective activities and daily evaluations, students measured themselves against the qualities of a positive classroom, as determined by the class. The teacher stopped writing names on the board and threatening to call home. Instead, he noted misbehavior on their daily evaluations and gave students a week to improve their behavior.
Secret "stop" signs for misbehaving students and the option to leave the classroom when feeling overwhelmed also gave students some power in changing their behavior. For his part, the teacher took time out of his prep period to talk to students about any personal or academic challenges and made a conscious effort to be more positive and patient.
Through these flexible yet focused interventions, the teacher found a compassionate way to rein in an unruly class and reclaim a sense of joy in the classroom.
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