My students can be some of the noisiest kids in the world, but a lot of it
is the poverty culture. It is not unusual for my kids to be living in a
trailer house with one (usually not both) parent, grandparents, an aunt or
uncle and their cousins. We have had as many as twelve in a trailer house,
or twenty in a house, or seven in a hotel room--renting week by week.
As a result, my students are used to a very HIGH noise level. It doesn't
bother them at all... drives me crazy. I do my best to keep the noise level
down, but some classes are just loud. It doesn't help that they don't have
recess and are expected to be quiet during their 30 minute lunch. Kids need
social time, and they aren't getting it. I try to allow as much as I can,
but they all know that when I'm talking, they need to be quiet.
Besides talking, I deal with students standing up, wiggling around, singing
(loudly) and even dancing (without any music) almost every class period.
Some of it is the culture, some of it is their home life, some of it is that
they are drug/alcohol babies...
After six years I've learned to choose my battles. Again, as long as they
are quiet when I am teaching, they are allowed to talk as long as they are
working. I have to control some of the subject matter... 'R' rated movies
are a constant (even in 1st grade), drugs and sex are not unusual.
As far as rewards go, I've tried lots of different things with varying
amounts of success. Mostly I do a variation of crayons in a box/paintbrushes
in a paint can and when they get a certain amount for being "good" i.e.
nobody sent to the office, nobody set out, not having to be told to be
quiet, putting all materials up, etc.... then they get a "free" day where I
set up rotation tables with things they don't get to use any other time. A
table with the "big" box of 120 crayons, table with gel pens and black
paper, table with modeling clay, table with tempera cakes, table with
This year I'm working on setting up something new for the second semester.
It's called "Artopoly" and I've basically turned one of my bulleting boards
into a monopoly board... instead of properties, I have artists...divided
into art styles. Instead of railroads, I have different famous museums. Then
the Free Parking is replaced with "Free Draw Day"... Jail has been replaced
with "art games", the utilities are replaced with "clay day" and the taxes
are replaced with "free paint day" The only thing I have left to do before
we can start is come up with some Chance and Community Chest cards. When
they are good, they'll get to roll a die and move their class marker around
the board. I'm hoping to use this to teach a little more art history and it
makes the reward more by chance than by goals.
I know this could backfire on me, but I figure I'll give it a shoth and see
how it works... I have all my classes begging to play... so at least I have
their interest peaked.