Classroom management – working together

I said farewell to my S4 class today. After two years and what seemed like a very long and sometimes acrimonious journey, we got there in the end. They’re a good bunch; some very able students who’ve just not worked hard enough to fulfill their true potential, others have worked like Trojans and gained the ability and confidence to get some excellent grades above what they thought they could do when they arrived in S3. Still others, often the brightest of all, (and not all boys!) have appeared to be so laid back they’ve often fallen over with the result that it has been an unending two year battle to get folio pieces out of them or to make them understand that what happens on Thursday in the exam is THEIR responsibility and THEIR reward for THEIR efforts or lack thereof.

But more than any other S4 class I’ve had this particular lot have been teaching me as well. For some weird reason which neither they or I can work out, they’ve been what could be termed a gobby class. There is a group that never stops talking. In many cases they actually don’t seem to realise what they are doing and it’s been a nightmare. I ask/tell them to stop, they apologise and two minutes later start again. I KNOW they’re not being disobedient as such because they appear to simply forget and are so used to sharing everything that they seem to communicate by a “stream of consciousness” within the small group. Never has my copy of Bill Roger’s ‘Cracking the Hard Class’ been so well thumbed. Never has the midnight oil been burned so much as Google and I try to find the killer resource or piece of advice which does not include the words “immediate execution of all the chatterers pour l’encourgement d’autres’.

Classroom management is one of those things some people seem to be able to do naturally. I thought I had cracked it being ex military but forgot that I’m not allowed to give them a full scale rollicking so had to learn to tone down the volume and the sarcasm. The rest of the class were getting annoyed by these chatterboxes and distracted during the revision phase so we had to do something. We discussed this as a class. The solution? A two minute break in most lessons at the halfway point and before a transition to another aspect. Two minutes to talk, joke and get the chat out before they settled down and did not chat until the end of the lesson. It worked. Sometimes trying to sort things by asking those who are the problem and why it exists works better than simply trying to impose a suggested course of action on them.

Thanks S4! You taught me a few things and I really hope that you learnt something too! (and taught yourselves to learn better as well). Best of luck with Thursday and remember: STUDY HARD – PASS EASY!

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