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Basic “order” in the classroom: too much to expect?

April 26, 2010

Once again I was amazed and disappointed in the general level of basic order in our classrooms.  You’d think by now I’d get used to it, but it always rams home exactly WHY so little productive learning gets done in too many of our schools.

I was a guest speaker today for two Middle School groups.  Now, I’m hardly a “novice” at this so I don’t come in with what I would consider unrealistic expectations.  For example, I do not expect the entire group to sit there, riveted on my every word for the full hour.  I don’t expect that they are going to think I’m the greatest thing that ever happened to them since Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers, or <insert today’s biggest teen idol here.>

I DO however, expect just a basic level of courtesy and a rough approximation of attention — if you don’t feel it, at least fake it.

This is the kind of niggling and irritating disruption that causes so many teachers frustration. You can’t teach students who aren’t willing to sit down, sit still, pay attention and give their teacher — and each other — their respect.  It seems basic, but you can’t even count on students having the basics they need to operate effectively in a classroom.

It’s really pathetic when you are trying to teach kids  a lesson in respect, about why it’s important to look at people when they are speaking to/with you, so that they know you’re listening — only to see multiple active conversations going on in the classroom at the students’ tables.

Yes, we need to teach students first how to be successful participants in the classroom environment because without those fundamental lessons, they aren’t going to learn anything else.

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