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heckling with silly questions/arguments
Old 12-02-2009, 08:23 AM
 
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Monday I was subbing in HS Freshman English so there were some rather immature students in there that seemed to be fresh from MS.
One class was relentless in heckling me with stupid questions and arguments. For example, I said we would review the poetry assignment rubric.
"What does review mean?" (stupid questions, most of which were about the meaning of rather elementary words)
"It's not REVIEW, cuz I wasn't here yesterday" ( arguing w/ everything I said)

They raise their hands like its something important and I call on them AND/OR they just shout it out. and at least half the class was doing it. I can't send half of them OUT! and there's always that saying in education "there are no silly questions" (yes, there are!)

There was a lot of "what does (that word mean)". "You're using too big words" making it just about impossible to get through the lesson.

It's so unnerving and frustrating AND it's so relentless and "rapid-fire" that I have a hard time accessing my 'rational brain' and moving toward classroom control. It's a pattern I see regularly, like some sort of 'sink the sub' strategy. I left a detailed note for the teacher. This was a class he thought would be fine. He told me the last class of the day was awful and that I should just endure and the bell would ring eventually. That class was managable.

ANYWAY, what strategies do you use for these disruptive questions and arguments?


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Old 12-02-2009, 08:30 AM
 
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hand them a dictionary and some paper and tell them that you expect them to have the answer. good luck!
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Really?...really?
Old 12-02-2009, 08:33 AM
 
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they think we haven't heard that before? Really? lol *sigh*

Our dist. uses social contracts. so what I usually do is stand and wait. I do not answer disruptive questions. I simply wait. usually w/in a minute some bright student's light goes on and they realize I am waiting on them to begin and they say something about being quiet. Our classrms are expected to self monitor. Sometimes, esp w/ freshman who ARE right out of ms, it takes awhile.

our hs students LOVE to try to get the teachers discussing person stuff or yelling. I will do neither. I simply wait. THIS unnerves the kids and works great.

Plus, I'd much rather leave a note for a teacher that their behavior was fine but we didn't get all the way through a lesson that was taught and received well rather than I threw the lesson out the mob and they moshed it. That only reflects badly upon ME.

I think this might work for you even w/o a social contract. i say give it a try. When the kids ask you why you are just standing there say quietly just to them that you are waiting on the class's attention.

Of course, I don't teach inner city or particular rough bunch so this may nto work on them I dont' know. I rarely ahve to wait anymore now that the kids have gotten to know me. I did a lot of waiting last year as a new sub. BUT, if you notice the class isn't quieting down and are blatently igorning you waiting then I'd give them warning and if still no positive response I'd send them to the office (probably call for an escort). Taht is consistent w/ our dist.

I had only one referral last year (woudln't have done it if I'd known students get auto suspension 3 days for ANY ref. from a sub, altho I appreciated the support it was harsh for what the student did) and this year I did send 20+ for tardy slips. Otherwise, I get pretty good interactions w/ the students.

do what you hav eto do and trust your instincts. Good luck.
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:19 PM
 
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I like the waiting idea, but after waiting I might give them a choice. Lets do the lesson or someone is leaving and it won't be me. Subczy likes to unnerve them and mess with their heads. So do I. I like to smile at them. Then the first one who opens his mouth after that is gone. And then do it all over again.
I also like to kick them out the next time I see them just because I hold a grudge. Well, it makes me feel better.
If you have a real tough group send for the vice principal. It is why they get the big money.
I know of some classes where you could wait all period.

I do go into some schools where you can't get up in front of them and conduct a lesson. You are talking to the backs of heads, people are texting, or their heads are down on their desks. The teachers know this and just assign some bookwork or worksheet. They can do it or not. I really don't care.
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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Thanks Augustus. -yes, as you said, this was a class I could wait all period if I just stood there waiting for them to shut up! That might work in some classes, though.

I realized there are 2 problems for me in that situation. One, is my feelings - how my brain gets over-stimulated, overwhelmed and goes mushy from all the rapid fire questions and arguing. At that point, I am more likely to scream and drop the F-bomb, so first I need to train myself to take a deep breath. :|

And then the other piece of the problem is the classroom management issue = they are behaving badly. They seemed to enjoy any hint that I was beginning to be flustered - so I will have to focus on summoning my special "bored look" while I ignore stupid disruptive questions and move on.

I will practice in the mirror

What I did was deliver as much of the lesson as I could get through, then wade into the mob redirecting individuals and repeating this and that from the lesson. I do a lot of "wading into the mob" to deal with individuals. I think it breaks down the mob mentality; a sort of 'divide and conquer' strategy.

It's not really something I can call the VP about - they're asking too many questions? sounds crazy to complain about.


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10th grade
Old 12-02-2009, 08:58 PM
 
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I had one class today that was like this. 35 students who had 2 assignments to do. I think most of them finished the 1st one, but less than half did the 2nd. When I realized (almost immediately) the class was going to be unproductive, I just sat at the teacher's desk, getting up to walk around every 10 minutes or so. They weren't awful, they were just lazy and unmotivated. One kid did get sent out, no paper, pen, and hanging his head out the window of the 3rd story room. One guy was going thru his neighbor's purse, 2 played cards (which I did tell them to put away and they did), etc. I left a note saying their behavior was poor. What else is there to do?
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Ah yes...
Old 12-03-2009, 06:46 AM
 
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...The old "test the sub" routine! I had that yesterday in 7th-grade math. (Actually, last night I saw a Humphrey Bogart movie called "Dead End" that featured the Dead End Kids. Wow, they act just like middle-school boys! But I digress.) I work in parochial school, so again, not urban, but I agree with the pp who said to tell them to get a dictionary. I do that frequently. "Mrs. X, what does 'review' mean?" I point to the bookcase and say, "There's a dictionary on that shelf. Why don't you look it up and tell us?" Invariably he/she will down in the desk chair and mumble, "Never mind." Ha!

Frankly, I have no qualms about telling them to stop asking goofy questions. Sometimes it helps to be really hard-nosed when they first walk in. In fact, I've been known to write "Sit in your assigned seat" and "No talking" on the board. I have told kids to "be quiet" and "stop talking." I have perfected the glare. It works. I move toward the offender and stand next to him/her. All the usual techniques.

Also, I have no qualms about letting some junk slide by. I mean, in some of these classes, if you stopped and called kids on every smart crack they made, you'd never get anything else done. I pick and choose my battles. I let some daffy things slide yesterday, but the kid who came into the room chanting "Sub! Sub! Sub!" got my full attention, and fast.

Now, that said, sometimes I do find that I've phrased things in a confusing manner. For example, it doesn't faze me at all to say that the students are supposed to do problems 14 through 18, but then I get four questions asking, "Do we just do 14 and 18, or...?" Sigh. I have found that I need to be as explicit and simple as possible when giving directions. So, on the "review," think, I might instead say we would "go over" the rubric. Sometimes I rewrite directions on the board between classes after I get a little feedback, like the math thing yesterday. By doing that, I block off questions before they happen, and that helps keep things on track.
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Had some tough ones,
Old 12-03-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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classes that were Really Bad. I've done the "waiting" thing, and that's worked on the lower grades. Juniors and Seniors have been the worst so far this year. They've seen the "waiting" thing before, and just ignore it. And like Augustus, I remember the Really Bad Ones. And I let them know from the very beginning of class that I remember them. And why. I like to tell myself that they see the glimmer of retribution in my eyes and become fearful. Hey, as long as they behave, whatever.

Had a class once where the students Refused to learn my name. "Miss" this, and "miss" that, just to be annoying. Many kept trying to find my "buttons," things that would make me crazy or push me over the edge. I imagine they've been successful in the past with a sub that way and thought it was worth trying again. It doesn't work with me. I just waited it out. In the past, I've called security when it's gotten really bad, who almost always shows up and says, "We were waiting for your call, and were stunned it took this long...."

I'd ignore them; stay focused yourself; and if all else fails, call in reinforcements. It's a learning curve.
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Old 12-03-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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It's not really something I can call the VP about - they're asking too many questions? sounds crazy to complain about."
that is not what they are doing and any VP with any brains will know it.

I either do like Sublime or come down hard on them. It kind of depends on the school and type of student. Hard to explain I guess. Some schools just let them go. You will cause yourself more problems than it is worth and it is like that all the time. Other schools the kids might usually be pretty good and this one day you need to make believers out of them. Just start sending them out. but those are the ones that subczy's waiting should work for you.
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moving toward students
Old 12-03-2009, 05:42 PM
 
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Very often, these tricks mentioned do work, like the one in my title. But when there are 35 students and 80 percent of them are talking and not working, but not causing trouble (high school level), there's no way I'm going to be able to make them work. However, in a high school class once I made the whole class put their heads down when they ignored a horrendously boring video on Spain and talked thru it. Luckily, they did, and fortunately the teacher returned while they were in this position. Who knows if there were any repercussions.


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