I hope that this email works to post. I have never posted before but have been a part of this listserv off and on for some time now. I am a first year middle school art teacher in a small rural town in Oregon. Last year, I taught 4th grade. It has been my dream to be an art teacher, since I was in middle school. Yet, this year has been much like Stacie's for me. Not superb, to say the least. I read Stacie's message and could completely relate to her agony about discipline and no exactly knowing what to do. Fortunately, I was able to start over with a new bunch of kids at the beginning of February. I started reading this book, called "Teaching with Love and Logic," by Jim Fay and David Funk. It has completely changed my teaching. I recommend it HIGHLY. It emphasizes getting to know the kids one on one, and taking your time to solve problems later, not always in the heat of the moment.
Regarding your plan, I don't think you should go completely lecture with them, because you may get even worse results. Yet, I also don't think you should go completely dive into making art. I think you should have a balance. What has really worked for me is keeping kids after class to talk, for behavior issues, for about 3-5 minutes, during my prep time or after school. I try to conquer one kid at a time, getting to know them and their situations. I have a ton who misbehave. There is an overwhelming amount of poverty and drug problems in my community. So, I could use any help as well. I feel your pain Stacie! I am right their with you in trying to do something right in teaching this year! Good luck!