This sounds like a second grade class I had last year. I inherited this
school last January when their old teacher went to teach at one of the
new intermediate schools...I know why she left! Their classroom teacher
told me that the art teacher hated them. That made me really sad,
because I'm sure the children felt it, and the last thing I wanted was
for them to feel like failures before we even started! How horrible!
I didn't care how they felt about me, but I did not want them turned off
to art. First day I walked in and told them what I had planned for the
rest of the year. They were excited. I told them what I expected from
them. I told them that they were already artists and that I was there
to help them find out what their favorite way of expressing themselves
in visual art was. They kept it together for about 15 minutes and then
they lost it...well, the "few" lost it. How sad for the hard workers
and listeners. You could tell they were used to the chaos. A second
grader should not have to learn to put up with behavior like this at
such a young age. I know I will hear a lot of flack for this from the
rest of the list, but I feel sorry for the good kids that are always
getting the short end of the stick while the trouble makers are allowed
to remain to cause more trouble.
Their classroom teacher and gym teacher were having some of the same
problems. The principal was sympathetic but was much more lenient than I
would have been. Her feeling was suspending any of these children meant
a worse situation for them at home. School was the most positive place
they had to go during the day. Children that physically assaulted and
verbally assaulted teachers were not suspended.
Next class, when the children walked in they had to put their heads
down. Then I talked about what we were going to do in art. If they
talked during meeting, out in the hall or down to the office they went.
After all, we went over rules the first day, didn't we? Then the
classroom teacher and I introduced the incentive of a McDonald's lunch.
Where these kids came from, this was worth being good. They had a point
system. If they behaved in art or in gym in addition to being good all
day in their classroom, they earned points. So many points entitled
them lunch with their teacher. It worked. Praise God! or they would
have done me in.
I am not in favor of bribing kids, but this is the only thing they
understood. I was able to at least talk to them individually and I
could attempt to build a relationship with them when they were
relatively quiet. I dished out all the positive reinforcement I could.
It was the toughest group of kids with whom I have ever worked. They
were never perfect, but it did get easier. Bad habits are hard to
overcome sometimes. Hang in there, hang tough. They will come around.