I taught ceramics for 5 years in High School. The problem with clay
throwing in class is that you usually don't see who threw the clay (it's
usually thrown when you're not looking, right?). So, it gets into a murky
area trying to punish the culprit(s) and he/she denying it, etc.
I took the suggestion of a veteran ceramics mentor teacher and it worked
like a charm. First, you tell the class that if any clay is thrown at anyone
or at the walls, no matter who threw it, the whole class will stop working
with clay. The clay will be stored away and the entire class will read and
write articles about ceramics.
Then when it happens the first time, wait until the next day and at the
beginning of class you remind the class about what you said and can point to
the clay balls on the ceiling and walls. Tell the class to get out a sheet of
binder paper and have them write an essay on why it is dangerous and
irresponsible to throw clay in ceramics class. Mention how some one could get
hit in the eye, law suits, etc. Also, tell the class that in the essay, you
need to know who the culprit(s) is(are) so that he/she can get their two day
suspension from class and the rest of the class can continue to work with
clay. Have all the clay and projects stored away and locked and students will
know that you mean business.
The offending student will usually stand up and admit his guilt or write
it in his essay. At that point, you write a referral and the student goes to
the A.P. for a two class suspension and the class moves on.
Clay throwing is a killer for ceramics classes. It has to be stopped or
it will escalate and get worse as the year progresses. You have to be very
aware of your room and check the walls, ceiling, windows, even the TV set on
the wall for clay balls after every class. Fortunately, 98% of students love
to work with clay and don't want to jeopardize the opportunity to work with
it. So, you're using peer pressure to monitor the room. Works in high school,
probably would work in junior high as well.
I don't usually believe in punishing a whole class for what one student
does, but in this case it works, especially if done at the beginning of the
year and it sets a precedent so students know it's a serious offense.
Dennis in Stockton, CA