You sound really stressed out, dear lady. I can understand...I've had
classes like this before when I started teaching at my most recent school
(8 yrs. ago) in middle school. You didn't mention what grades but I'm
assuming it's secondary, right? Even my principal was of meager help....his
suggestion? "Give 'em candy".Yeah, right. That'll solve the problem!
If I were to have a class like you mentioned again, I'd first set up the
course just the way I want them to learn. Try keeping to projects that are
diff. and unique, if possible, but still using the P&R's and skill-based.
(I've found "tighter" projects seem to calm them down like pen &
ink...stippling.) Tell them up front what's expected, set a timetable of
due dates, and insist they follow it or flunk. Due dates are due dates.
Unfinished work will be graded as unfinished work because that's exactly
what it is. You don't have to be mean or tough...just set limits with no
excuses. I open my room early in the morning so kids can work on stuff
that's running late. I always have approx. 4-6 students coming in before
school starts. I put this in my policy sheet so parents (who have to sign
the sheet) will know about this. If you flunk several students, then you
"set" your reputation as "no nonsense" Woolsey. You can be fair, loving,
AND firm. If you feel you might wind up with lots of F's, talk to your
principal beforehand and get his/her support.
Other ideas...(1) You might try assigning 5 projects and they can do any 3.
(2) You might allow them to drop one assignment out of a group of
assignments.If they do ALL the assignments, they will get extra credit.
(3) Allow 5 extra credits to equal one assignment.
All my classes are set up on the extra credit system. Each student can do
up to 5 extra credits...each one is worth 1 pt. added on to their final
grade. For example, they can have a 88 (B), do 3 extra credits and get a 91
which is an A.
However, I'm VERY TIGHT on what I consider extra credit and it must be
worth 2 full days of work. I make the call if it's worth it or not. If you
want to hear more, let me know.
This semester I have one really noisy bunch of 8th graders (38 of 'em) and
they're driving me nutso. I'm on them all the time. I got tired of talking
loud so I've been using the lightswitch to get their attention. I won't
talk until there's absolute silence. Takes a minute or 2...or 3...or 4! I'm
exhausted when they leave...thank goodness I have them in the morning...but
yet I'm getting better products from them than I've EVER had in a class. I
can't see how they can be soooo loud, talk constantly, and product such
fabulous work. Amazes me. Sooooo...I TRY to go with the flow! Remember that
we ALL get these classes every once in a while. Just relax, smile and TRY
to enjoy them. I keep telling myself that day after day....and sometimes I
even believe myself!
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Rd.
Danville, California 94526