Oh, what I wouldn’t give for the worst offenses in my classroom to be from a kid like Spicoli ordering a pizza to be delivered during the middle of class. Jeez. Those were the days.
We have moved way beyond slackers and ‘reluctant learners.’ In the past few years, teachers have encountered the resistant learners, the defiant learners, the loathe to learn, and the ones who regularly and clearly communicate “Go ahead–I dare you to teach me anything.” And, the kids that I am talking about are only eleven years old! It ain’t easy being ‘tween.
Should five or more of students of this ilk gather in one class, there can be hell to pay. We thought that we had seen most everything; the latest disruptive strategy has been dubbed “lawyering.” EX: Teacher speaks to Jason* about his nonstop talking during instruction. Jason denies talking because for the exact five seconds that the teacher spoke to him, he actually was not in the act of speaking—he was taking in a deep breath to allow him to carry on with the conversation. All of a sudden, there is another voice in the fray. It is Seth*, pronouncing, “What did he do? He wasn’t talking.” [“Your Honor, if it please the Court, my client was not involved in the oration of which he is being so unfairly accused.”]
All we want is silence so that we may continue the lesson.
Picture the arcade game, Whack-a-Mole. Settle down one disrupter, and another one pops up over there. Quiet her down, and another one surfaces. It ain’t pretty, and it is extremely disconcerting to any sentient adult. Try to keep a teaching train of thought under these circumstances. Try to maintain one’s cool.
It does not take many of them–maybe 10-20% of the population, but enough to impact a class or two for each of us. And, it can start to wear us down. I am good with slow learners. I can get low achievers to make progress AND feel good about themselves. I am an ace at working with many of our special education students. However, I am no match for the kid who tells me, after I have spent one entire hour showing a group of four how to practice and memorize and strategize in order to study for a particular test, “Miss, you just wasted a whole hour working with me. I’m not going to study–I’m gonna fail this test tomorrow.” No amount of cajoling or coaxing or coaching, or, God-forbid, teaching, looks like it will crack the tough exterior/interior of some of these kids.
And, if one or two of us can make some headway with Rhonda*–like getting her to settle down in our English class or complete some class work or turn in some homework or pass a test, the rest of us may rarely see that kind of small success with that particular student.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.