Friday, April 13, 2007

Off With Their Heads!

My Third Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself is beginning come apart at the seams.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you recall, my Third Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself has a set of special rules. It also has a very interesting group of kids who seem to attract trouble like magnets. If a kid is a behavior problem, has been non-academically promoted, is "visiting" from the emotionally disturbed unit, has a probation officer, or just ingests too much sugar and caffeine on a regular basis, that kid is probably in this class. Like I said before, I feel sorry for the other half of the class who actually care about learning and are getting fed up with the antics of the "losers" (their word, not mine) that continually cause the entire class to get into trouble.

This group of kids, the non-Losers so to speak, are starting to get absolutely, totally, irrevocably pissed off at the Losers. They are ready to revolt.

On Wednesday the class was beyond horrible. I was attempting to do a cell review bingo game using kidney beans as bingo markers and they completely lost control. They couldn't handle the fact that they had something in their hands that could be easily thrown, so throw them they did. (This despite the very precise verbal instructions about what would happen if they did this, the discussion about maturity, about how they were almost 8th graders, blah, blah, blah) I had to shut the game down and turn them lose on seatwork review worksheets before I lost my mind. (The remaining classes didn't get the bingo marker kidney beans...they had to use pieces of paper which don't sail through the air as well.)

The non-Losers weren't happy as they were having fun with the game and were eager for a chance to win a Jolly Rancher. They pouted and scowled and stared daggers at the Losers.

Thursday was a bit better as I basically laid down the law, again, very quietly and firmly which completely freaks them out. They were able to handle, barely, an activity involving pipe cleaners and beads and making models of compounds.

Today, a Friday, and a day with a school dance (recipe for disaster) they were out of control again. I had, however, planned two lessons...just in case they couldn't handle the activity I wanted to do with them. I began the period with a lesson on how to take The Very Big Deal State Mandated Tests which begin next week. These kids have never been taught test-taking skills such as how to highlight key words, cross out obviously wrong answers, and so on. The idea was to reward the classes that did well by giving them a chance to do some drawing and coloring (actually I had each table draw and label a poster of a plant or animal cell - from memory - to see if they could remember all they needed to for the The Very Big Deal State Mandated Tests. ) However, for classes that couldn't control themselves there were more than enough questions in the sample test packet to keep them busy all period.

The Losers from The Third Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself couldn't even keep quiet, still, and focused enough to do the highlight test packet activity so - surprise! - they didn't get to do the posters.

The Non-Losers were MAD.

"Mrs. Bluebird!" they wailed, "Can't you kick them all out of the class?"

"Can't you have their schedule changed?"

"We hate them, they ruin it for everybody!"

"Class was fun when they were gone!"

One boy, the infamous Cast Boy (the only thing he's done good all year was clock Rude Boy with his cast), who's in the middle of Every Incident that Causes a Problem, was a particular target.

"It's all your fault, Cast Boy! If you could control yourself we wouldn't get stuck doing stupid stuff all the time!"

Interesting enough, two of Cast Boys little buddies are now distancing themselves from him because they are, in the words of Wide Eyed Boy, "sick and tired of trying to be good and having him ruin it all the time."

I finally got them settled down and working - with threats of severe repercussions if they so much as breathed a word at anyone - but the Non-Losers were still obviously very mad and the Losers were, for once, starting to look a bit uncomfortable.

For probably the first time in their lives, their peers didn't find them funny, or amusing, or even remotely cool.


Karen said...

Sounds like my 4th period class, except the 'non-losers' are afraid to get mad ad the 'losers'. The good kids glare at ME when I stop an activity because of the actions of others. This is an 8th grade class, so the problem kids really think they are being cool when they are disruptive. I'm tired of that class - I have become so sarcastic with them that I have to take a step back and make sure I'm not being nasty. I also have a 7th grade class with one annoying student where the rest of the class tells him to 'shut up' (which I don't allow so they repeat it with nicer words hehe)
7 more weeks of school! : )

Mrs. T said...

I had a class like that once- I still see one of the boys that was in there and it's all I can do to keep my lip from curling back into a sneer.
Hurray for the non-Losers!

Ryan said...

I agree with Mrs. T--there's nothing better than peer censorship. I tell mine pretty regularly that if I have to solve their problems they probably won't like how I do it; it's a good motivator for them to handle each other.