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Re: middle schoolers

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From: Jayna Ledbetter (jayna_99_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Feb 25 2001 - 14:01:32 PST


Bunki's post about middle schoolers was good. One of
the mistakes I made at the beginning was actually
having too many rules. There was too much to follow up
on. I spent too much time trying to remember if I
punished the same way every time, etc. and trying to
get my consequences straight... now I have three
"contracts" typed up. One is a tardy contract, a
paragraph that I wrote myself that explains why the
student has to copy the contract and why it is
important to be on time and what he or she should have
done to avoid being late, etc. There is another one
for being disrespectful which pretty much includes
everything- talking back, fussing with one another,
chasing each other around the room, taking someone's
stuff and hiding it from him or her (a huge middle
schooler past time). The other one is a really long
definition of the word "talk". I only use it if I give
the class the dreaded "Silent Art", which I really
hate to do. These contracts have really saved my life.
The students know what to expect if they do something
wrong, and I handle each situation the same way,
unless it is a serious infraction which would warrant
an immediate referral. If a student flat out tells me
that he won't do the contract (copying a paragraph),
then I simply and calmly say "you know, I know that I
cannot force you to do it. I am asking you to, though,
because I would much rather see this problem taken
care of without bringing your parents into it, because
if I don't get it from you by the next time I see you
in class, I will call home to find out why."
I have made these phone calls home, and I always get
the contract eventually. Three contracts warrant a
phone call home, and more than three warrants a
referral. When I call home, I tell the parents that a
referral comes next. They always have agreed that I am
being fair. This "punishment" has given my students
the responsibility to make up for their actions, and I
find that they respect me so much more than when I
didn't give them this chance to make it up to me.
Being comfortable as a new teacher takes time. The
trick is to act like you have been teaching art to
middle schoolers your whole life.
Jayna

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