INSTINCTIVE TERROR: DAY ONE IN THE CLASSROOM
“That one is going to be my problem, isn’t he?” I was watching a little boy with a blue striped shirt and vibrant green eyes flit about the classroom, an aura of mischief encircling him.
“Oh, good,” said the teacher who was mentoring me. “You’ve got the instinct.”
The instinct to recognize trouble? But then what?
“You’ll be great,” she says. “It’s just classroom management.”
JUST CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT?
I don’t know anything about classroom management! Wait, you’re not leaving me alone with these kids, are you??
Tomorrow is my first day as a substitute teacher. I spent a day of my own time getting to know the teacher and the class last week. The teacher directed me to some websites which I’ve been studying as if my life depends on it.
I’ve memorized some of the material. I’m to watch out for:
- Shifting in seat
- Opening and closing fists
- Drumming on desk with fists
- Slumping shoulders
- Crossing arms against chest
- Trouble making eye contact
“This child may become defiant. Intervene early.”
What?? A defiant second grader? Then what do I do?
“Don’t expect that you can reason with the child or make an emotional appeal to get them to behave.”
Wait, if you can’t use reason or emotion, what do you do?
“Stay calm. Take deep breaths.”
OK, now I feel like I’m entering a hostage situation. Which is about right. Six and half hours trapped in the classroom. Only I’m not being held hostage. I’m in charge. God help us.
Something else I have memorized:
When confronted with defiance:
- Be brief. Avoid lectures and sarcasm.
- Speak in a calm, matter-of-fact tone.
- Use short, direct statements.
- Don’t ask questions (unless you will accept any answer).
- Keep your body language neutral.
Stop that. Stop that now.
Do not do that.
I am calm.
Stop doing that!
This is going to take more than instinct.
More to come, if I survive . . .