Being the holiday season, and knowing the students had two and a half years of “Respect yourself, respect others, and respect property;” and I, being in a jolly manic mood, decided to actually give the students a chance to show their respect.
The students were LOUD and behaved like 13 year olds. After two boys almost got into a fight, one of the children asked me if I was going to do anything about it. I said, “Why yes, I’m going to compliment them on resolving their problem by themselves in a peaceful manner.”
I slipped a couple of times, but quickly apologized. One girl had a particularly piercing voice. I asked her calmly and nicely if I could write her a pass to a place that might be less distracting. She said, “Why yes, I’d like to go work in the hall where it is quieter.” One period I sent a student to the surrounding classes to find out if we were disturbing them. No complaints.
Surprisingly (to me), they asked good questions, seemed to understand the explanations and to get most of their work done. I told the students I was leaving a note to their teacher telling her how pleased I was that they could control their own behavior. As for work, she could tell who was focused by the work that was due Monday. I individually, privately, asked every students if they understood and had a plan to get their work done.
All in all, it was a good day for me, but as an experiment in self control for the students, I was less than sure. The following Tuesday I got a call from the Urbana substitute line saying I had been requested to teach the class for a full week after Christmas break.
PS I got a call today (December 17) canceling my request for the first week in January. Tears.