Students' behavior changes in a group setting. The pack likes a leader and they'll follow that leader even if they normally would hesitate to create school behavior problems on their own. The key? Ensuring that the leader of the pack is you.
How do I stop students from throwing acorns at me during recess?
I teach a class of thirty kids, without a teacher's aide to assist with discipline and other aspects of classroom management. Invariably, during recess, one particular student will start throwing acorns at me, and about half the class follows him.
The "ringleader" has been suspended more than once this school year for a few days at a time, but he is returned to the classroom. Suspensions aren't working; his required visits with his therapist are not yet taking. How do I provide classroom discipline to this student in a supportive, caring manner?
~ Suri, India
Weapon of class destruction
First of all...avoid the acorns! At least ask the custodian to clean them up if you have to go near that area of the playground.
Fundamentally, these student's behavior stems from a lack of respect...meaning the students don't respect you. There may always be "the one" who instigates these things, but if so many join in...that's a problem.
At this point in the year (January) it may be too late to really change their impressions (something to work on starting day one next year) but there are things you can do to mitigate what is occurring now.
As for the "ringleader"...continue to follow your building's discipline procedures whenever he acts inappropriately. But the true solution is the bring the rest of the class over to your side.
Make sure students have engaging things to play during recess. As I mention on other pages on this site, "Idle minds are the gremlin's workshop." My mantra:
Engaged students are too busy learning to misbehave.
That is really the basis of solving most classroom discipline problems.
If it is one of your roles at school to accompany students at recess, teach them how to play kickball, four square, tetherball, basketball, soccer, etc. Teach them new jump rope rhymes!
Once they are engaged in play, step back and observe. When you get back to the room, share your feelings on how fun it was to see them enjoying their play and that you can't wait to get back out there with them next time.
Put your efforts into creating a classroom community using the resources on this website, and vow to pursue that from day one next year.
Once you build a team that supports its members, you'll find that you have a team that won't support someone acting against the best interests of the enjoyment of the group.
Or acting against the true classroom leader...you.
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