Part 1: I shut up.
6th period I teach advanced 7 math which is actually about 18 7th graders and 11 6th graders or something like that. They are great kids: smart motivated and so forth. They are the kids people make exceptions for (more on that later). Anyway, 6th period is the last period of the day so they’re are always chatty. It’s fine, I can deal with chatty. In fact on the whole I like chatty. Except that recently we have moved from chatty to just plain obnoxious.
Back to today: As they are coming in I write on the board, “Please take out a piece of paper for notes.” Except only about 5 of the kids do. So I start to get annoyed and it’s loud. Real real loud. So I write the title of the notes on the board. And still not a lot happens. So I write above the title, “this is the title you should write it down.” I wait about another minute. I realize that I have not said a word yet this period. I decide in that moment that I’m not going to. It takes about one slide of notes for the students to realize that is this not a joke. That they have to copy from the board on to their papers and that I am not going to tell them to. Suddenly it’s quiet. They are shussing each other. a couple kids say things like, “why are you being a mime,” or “this is my quietest class all day.” I just keep going. I do a couple examples we do thumbs up, down or middle for understanding. I do not say anything. I’m not even really miming. I am just writing things on the board letting them copy and do examples. The last 15 minutes I get out the pink half sheets. My students know that this means quiz. I always give quizzes on the same color paper. Every kid clears off their desks. I put the 2 problems on the board, I write “Cover your work” and then let them go. One kid talks. I walk over rip up his paper and throw it in the trash. The period ends and they leave. Well, they say good-bye, put up their chairs and a few of them do the daily set puzzle. (I just want to throw in here that the kids weren’t mad or annoyed by this but intrigued, they didn’t leave upset. They left telling me to, “have a good weekend.”
A couple things, 1) I did not do this cause I was mad but because I can’t yell over them. I have been and it’s killing me. 2) I can’t move on if I am constantly waiting for students to be quiet. So today I didn’t.
I learned from this, probably more than they did. I learned I rely on my voice a lot but that’s not necessary they respect me and want to please me without it. I learned that sometimes just different can bring a class to attention and I learned that while standing at the board and giving notes is not my favorite sometimes it just works.
Part 2: I should probably shut up.
There is one really good way to make me mad and that is to talk about “those kids” as in those kids that always do bad things or those kids that steal or those kids that fail and by “those kids” you mean my students. If you do that there is a good chance that I will stop both respecting and listening to you. The condensed version of this story (which this is not the correct forum for) is that I got upset over something and went to talk to that person. That person told me that it was not about all the kids we could make exceptions as needed (see above for the kids we have exceptions for) but that it was about “those kids.” Sorry but I just stopped listening to you.
Part 3: You are grown ups learn to shut up.
I went to my first school board meeting and all I can say is this: I felt like a kid watching their parents fight. I wanted to say, “Could you wait til we go to bed? You’re upsetting us.”