"The Truth About Teaching"

The following is an excerpt from the book, The Truth About Teaching, What I wish the Veterans Had Told Me, by Coleen Armstrong, 2009, John Wiley & Sons

Chapter 8; "Classroom Management - Otherwise Known as Discipline"

"The disciplinary conundrum is still educational rocket science.
Meaning that it's the most complex issue any teacher ever faces."

"No matter how dedicated and dynamic you are, it does no good whatsoever if your classes won't settle down long enough to listen to you. Yet instruction on how to handle a roomful of young people is still sketchy at best. Education classes often spend far too little time on the thorny topic of classroom management. One possible reason: There are so few absolutes. It's a science with huge amounts of art thrown in - and therefore to a large extent, unteachable."

"Most of us learn our most effective techniques, in fact, through observation, along with plenty of painful trial and error."

"It has always been thus. Even one-room schoolhouses had plenty of young "rowdies" who kept their teachers constantly on edge. And if you crave a more recent yet still historical example, rent the 1955 film
The Blackboard Jungle, starring Glenn Ford as a hapless teacher, and Sidney Poitier, who was actually twenty-eight, as a high school student. Today's problems may be far more complicated than they were back then, but misbehaving schoolchildren have always been - and will always be - with us."

"Please keep in mind, though, that 99 percent of your problems will be caused by only about 2 percent of your students. The vast majority will never give you an ounce of trouble. It's that other (smaller) group that will drive you batty. You'll also notice a complete climate shift whenever one of your disruptive influences is absent."

"Ideally, you'd like to pursue a successful teaching career without a single disciplinary incident. Sorry. That won't happen. You may be fortunate enough to have low numbers, but nobody gets away with none. Nobody."

"What's more, student behavior is unpredictable. One class will give you its full, respectful attention from day one. Another is so antsy that it seems borrowed from Bedlam, the British insane asylum that operated for centuries whose name has become synonymous with chaos."

"You may never understand why you become a class target. It has absolutely nothing to do with your age, size, gender, or degree of attractiveness. Old teachers, young teachers, males and females, 230-pound former linebackers and 90 -pound former cheerleaders - we all get more than our share."

"Here's the dilemma: whether or not you seem in charge and hence UNSHAKABLE depends on one thing: your physical presence, which takes time to develop."

Here is a story from the blog; artfulartsyamy.blogspot.com

Written by a 9-year veteran art teacher at a Title I middle school in Georgia who has enormous classes of over 40 students, the blog tells how Amy Z. handled a situation that was out of control. One of her 7th grade classes (43 students) refused to settle down regardless of her efforts. She says that at one point, she had a substitute (a Title I veteran of 30 years) walk out because of this group's behavior - horseplay, yelling, running, talking over her, etc. She says the only thing they wouldn't do is listen! Finally, one day in December something snapped inside her and she hit the call button. When the principal arrived, she whispered, "I need you to back me up," and she proceeded to explain to the kids, once again, the rules and consequences. The principal reinforced her speech and left, after which the kids started yelling things like, "She can't do anything to us!" This principal, bless her, turned right around and ordered Ms. Amy to go to the computer lab with the well-behaved students (of which there were 9) so that she could have a talk with those kids. When Ms. Amy returned at the end of that class period, all three administrators were there (it took all 3 of them to settle the kids down), she was told that the administrators would be teaching them the rest of the week in another part of the building and that she could resume her lessons with the "Nine." Every time she saw a member of that 7th grade class in the hallway, the student seemed quite remorseful. She heard their activities included writing "I will respect my art teacher" 200 times and the kids couldn't wait to get back to art class the following week.

I have to say I am impressed with her administration going to such lengths to support her! Her principal called her to encourage her at one point, saying she is a fantastic teacher and how glad they were to have her there at the school.

This story just goes to show that many times, no matter how hard we try, sometimes we MUST ask for help! We are all part of a team and a community, and if you are blessed, as I am, with a great administration, don't hesitate! Send an email, a note, or hit the call button. I know my administration would be right there!

Finally, we at artteachershelpal.blogspot.com are here, ready and waiting to help in whatever way we can. You can email me with questions or concerns and if I don't have an answer, I will do the best I can to find someone who does!

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