Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Remember Me? You Kicked Me Out!" Los Padrinos

When it came to throwing kids out who were nothing but trouble, Los Padrinos was a great place. One probation officer was so supportive, he refused to discuss with me what I could and could not do.

"You run your class. You do not have to tell me anything!" He told me nonchalantly, then moved back into his office.

At first, I was a little stunned, even chided a bit. Then I realized the intense freedom which this man had given me. I did not have to worry about a "body count" or a limit of students that I could throw out of the room.

Ironically, this carte blanche invitation to run the class as I saw fit helped me to relax, not take things so seriously. I knew that no kid could get away with anything, because now I had the nuclear option.

When students started running in, I told, no. . . ordered them to go back outside and come in quietly. Right away I set the tone. The first two students would file in and find a seat, the next two or three I would have a seat wherever I wanted after that.

I was ready for anything, because I knew that no matter what happened, I would  win, and therefore the students would win, too. When two students pretended to be each other, switching names on me, I told them plainly that they better get along or they will be going out. One of them backed off immediately, gave me full attention and respect from that point on.

Then another kid, invariably, attacked me. "Hey, Dr. Phil!" he shouted at me. He wanted a dust-up with the substitute, but I was not afraid to meet the challenge. "You will not talk to me like that. My name is Mr. Schaper . . ." but this kid was not interested in playing by the rules -- not that many, but even then students want to start something. Two more times this kid -- goofy glasses, acting up, trying to start something with me -- and I sent him out, just like that. The rest of the class, all ten of them, sat quietly and finished their work.

The class next door was having major problems. The older teacher would yell at students who refused to listen "Get out! Get out!" Drama would start up, and right away the probation officer who had counseled me so simply would come by and calm everyone else down, then escorted out the one or two trouble-makers who were setting off the other students. Then he stopped by, leaned in playful, and chimed in my room, "And everything's OK, here, right?" "Yes, sir!" the other students responded nice and calm.

The teacher really does make or break the climate of the room. He needs all the support that he can get, no question about it. The more the support, the more that he has carte blanche to do and say and throw out if need be, the better for everyone, even the student who gets sent out for the day!

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