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Re: discouraged— Unruly art class


Date: Sun Oct 29 2000 - 09:37:54 PST

In response to Jen in Tallahassee's thoughtful response regarding unruly
and chaotic classrooms: I appreciate you telling us about playing calming
Baroque music because some classes need that. I also appreciate you having
your classes be quiet during the time the music is playing. You've been
teaching for 25 years and there's nothing as valuable as experience when it
comes to teaching in today's public schools.

I'm a five year high school art teacher. I'm teaching at a new school
this year which is overcrowded and which has had a history of unruly art
classes. I have one class that is disruptive and unruly with the students
putting in minimal efforts in their art work. Colored pencils get snapped in
half, there is a lot of loud chatter and noise and students out of their
seats. There is a lot of "needy" and attention-getting behavior with the
girls especially, constantly asking for help in their artwork. During times
when I'm addressing the class, there is a lot of calling out, loud
conversations going on around the room. Groups of four and five students
march in late to class.

My other classes are fine with students working at their seats, on task
and meeting all my expectations for them. Many of us have our "bad" class.
But I'm wondering if the Baroque music and limiting their movement around the
classroom as well as having a NO TALKING policy might work with these kids.
This is the class right after lunch and there are several Resource and
Special Needs students in the class. The "high academic" kids in this class
tend to be quiet and unassuming. The disruptive kids are loud and create a
chaotic noise level which in turn makes it difficult for the others to focus.
Special needs kids are especially sensitive to over stimulation in their
environment and the off-task behavior then escalates.

Perhaps I'm answering my own question, but do you think playing soothing
music and limiting movement and talking (on the high school level) would
benefit these kids (as well as make my life a lot saner)? I agree that we
have to combat the mindset that art is a "kick-back" class where it's OK for
kids to goof off and play. These kids need structure and a positive
environment in which to work. Even if it means I've got to become the "Art
Nazi". Responses appreciated. Thanks
Dennis in the Central Valley of CA