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RE: how do deal with reluctant students in a class of 40?


Date: Fri Aug 23 2002 - 10:13:17 PDT

JT and Friends,

I have recently joined this list and am really enjoying the discussion.
I am a professional storyteller performing arts in education programs
for preschool through 8th grade. In addition, I run a statewide
organization called ICAN- Independent Children's Artist Network. Each
fall, ICAN publishes a catalog of artists from all arts disciplines who
perform arts in education programs. In future posts, I will tell you
more about the work ICAN is doing for arts in education.

That being said, what great advice! Though I am not a teacher, I am
often a guest artist teacher performing residencies in schools on
storytelling and language arts. As a guest teacher, I often run into
"It's the Sub" mentality. When I walk into the classroom, students do
not know me or trust me and often try to test my limits. Here is how I
handle discipline challenges:

1. Identify individual students displaying the disruptive or
undesireable behavior. I approach them and speak to them one on one and
ask them what is going on with them today. Then I listen. I explain
why I am in the classroom and how I would be honored if they would help
me by modeling behavior.

I also use this technique in performance. Before I begin my show, I
identify students with "overabundant energy", ones I know will be
disruptive during the show and I ask them to be "special helpers" by
modeling behavior. I also point them out to the entire audience and
thank them publicly. That usually nips it in the bud.

2. For rowdy classroom, I offer incentives. My biggest incentive
is "When we finish our project today, if you have earned it, I will
share a story with you." You would not believe how children respond to
storytelling. If it's okay with the school administration, I will tell
spooky (not gory) stories. Kids absolutely love spooky stories.

I once entered a second grade classroom in which the teacher said to me,
"Thank God you're here! I am leaving!" She left her little diablos in
the classroom and walked out, leaving me alone with a class out of
control. Instantly, I walked in with authority and said, "I am speaking
now" in a very loud voice and they stopped what they were doing and
listened. Then I approached individual students and established an
environment of Listening. By the end of the class, the kids were
sitting quietly, had learned pieces of the story we were working on, and
when their teacher walked back into the classroom, I had them
simultaneously greet her, "Good morning, Ms. Smith!" Her mouth fell
open and I just smiled at her as I said, "Thank God you're here. I am

I love teaching but discipline challenges can be such a big deterrent.
I know many artists who simply like to perform and not teach because of
"reluctant" students.

When I was a teen, I was responsible in school but EXTREMELY rebellious
at home. At one point, I packed my bags and went to live in Palm
Springs. I was almost a milk carton kid - my mom had notified the
police and there was a national search for me. I look at myself now -
successful career, VERY respectful and in awe of my mother, have two
children (2 and 12 years old) who are obedient (so far), and have been
married to same man for many years. You would never have guessed how my
life would have turned out if you had met me as a teen! There is hope!


Dianne de Las Casas
Professional Storyteller
President, ICAN - Independent Children's Artist Network
Co-Publisher, Working smARTS e-newsletter for children's artists
Louisiana State Liaison, National Storytelling Network
Founder, childrensartists e-group on
P.O. Box 2656
Harvey, LA 70059

"Stories Connect the World!"

-----Original Message-----
From: jtowle []
Sent: Friday, August 23, 2002 11:24 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: how do deal with reluctant students in a class of 40?

Jim Faye & Fred Jones have good ideas for dealing with classroom

Jones is an advocate for proximity control... the arrangement of your
room speaks louder than you. Make sure that you can move around the
room. You being close to the students curbs some behavior issues. He
also says NEVER react. Pause and take a deep breath before dealing with
ANY unfavorable act.

Faye's philosophy is to teach responsibility. He would suggest
classroom expectations as this:

-I will treat you with respect so that you will know how to treat
others. (Explain: Do YOU like to be yelled at, called nasty names and
ignored? Neither does anyone else.)

-Feel free to do anything in this classroom that does NOT cause a
problem for anyone else. (Explain: What sorts of things cause problems
for you? These are things that cause a problem for me.)

-If you cause a problem, you will be asked to solve it. If you don't or
refuse, I will solve the problem for you. (Explain: If I have to solve
your problems, it will cost you.)

-If you think something is unfair, whisper in my ear and we'll talk
about it later. (Explain: This would be a private discussion, not a
classroom discussion.)

Also, be empathetic and by all means do NOT argue with a student. If
you argue, you've lost. Here are some scenerios & comebacks to use with

Student: "This project is stupid."
Teacher: "That very well could be." (turn around and walk away.)

Student: "I forgot my pencil."
Teacher: "Ooooh, now that's never good. What are you going to do about
Student: "I don't know."
Teacher: "Would you like to know how other students have solved this
Student: "Sure"
Teacher: "You could look around on the floor for an abandonded one, or
borrow one from a neighbor, or purchase one from me for a quarter. Let
me know how it works out for you." (whip your head around and walk

Student: inappropriate behavior
Teacher: "I'm sorry you've made that choice. How are you going to fix

If you end up having to send kids to the office, make sure you have
administrative support.

About the language issue, I used to teach majority hispanic population.
Practice nasty facial expressions.... kids can read your face. (Be aware
though in some cultures it is disrespectful for kids to look adults in
the eyes.)

Hope this helps a little. My hubby is a Jim Faye trainer and I've
started using his philosophy this year. The classroom atmosphere has
done a COMPLETE turn around for the better since I've stopped taking on
everyone else's problems.


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