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Breakthrough

This weekend was one of serious reflection and introspection. After the fight broke out in my class last week I spent a lot of time questioning my classroom management routines and set-up. I knew something needed to change. Nothing was being taught and nothing was being learned. Students were constantly talking, no matter who was in the room. Today, I hit my breaking point. 

My class is split by lunch. We get approximately 25 minutes together before the bell rings and the students disappear. Before lunch was an absolute chaotic display of my ill set routines. Yes, we did get through some of the lesson and worked through most of the vocabulary section of the notes, but it was loud. I must have waited for a quiet class at least 10 times in that short window of time. It was at that point that I broke. 

I sat at the table during lunch and immediately turned to one of my favorite resources, The Cult of Pedagogy. I knew that Jennifer Gonzalez would have covered at least something in the realm of classroom management either in her podcast or her blog. Lucky for me, I was correct. I immediately found the post discussing the minimalist way to set class rules and enforce them. I ate fast. 

I ran to the classroom to get started right away on new posters to put up. I started by writing down the 3 class rules, pulling each of them from the site. The original author cited 4 rules, but I felt it pertinent to chop it down to three. What were the three?

  1.  Listen and follow instructions
  2.  Raise your hand if you wish to speak
  3.  Respect your fellow students and the teacher
I was still writing the first poster as students trickled in from their lunch breaks. They were all very curious as to what I was doing and why I was writing. This is especially true when I started writing the consequences down on a list. 
  1. Warning
  2. 2nd Warning
  3. Call Home
As I modeled and discussed the new rules you could have heard a pin drop in the classroom. No one talked. The only pushback I received was when I described the call home. Some students were trying to sound cool and hollered that they didn’t even have phones in their home. This defiance didn’t last long as we started the lesson and the first warning was given out. 

I never thought I would need to resort to this type of routine and discipline at the high school level. I took for granted that students are students. In every other aspect of teaching I have told people that the two levels of elementary and secondary are similar in many aspects. In this instance, I ignored the most important aspect and relied far too heavily on my relationships with the students. 

One day may not be something to brag about. However, I did replicate the experiment and received the same results in my 4th hour class. I’m hoping it sticks. 

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