The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 03 2013

In Which I Hold Students Accountable

Day 165: Every time I teach a lab, I make a point to reinforce the importance of respecting materials, even when they are everyday materials that you might have in your house. This usually results in on-task behavior.

And then, sometimes, kids are kids. Like Friday, when JM ate the bread that was meant to be used for determining whether food will decompose faster when yeast is added. As I walked him out of the classroom, he yelled out loud, for everyone’s benefit, “But it was good!”

At the end of the day, I called his mom. As I was doing this, he was repeating over and over, “It’s not serious! It was funny!” So I walked him out to the car, where his aunt was waiting. He still wasn’t being reflective, or apologizing, or refusing to say anything other than, “It’s not serious. I thought it was funny.” At this point, his aunt – clearly on my side – turned off the car, and joined us on the sidewalk.

I had JM’s iPod, because he’d been playing with it instead of listening to me. I said he’d get it back when he started apologizing (meaningfully) and explaining what was inappropriate about his behavior. It took him about 10 minutes. We’re meeting with mom early this week.

Now, the entire rest of my Friday was great. So, why focus on this story? Well, because this isn’t a disaster story. This is a holding-the-line story. This is me finishing the year refusing to let shenanigans and acting out win the day. This is me holding students accountable. This is me demanding respect.

Because when I demand respect, I respect myself.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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