My biggest pet peeves are mostly little things:
- Not standing the binders up correctly on the bookshelf
- Wasting tape or taping random things that I then have to scrape off
- Stealing my pencils!!
I handled them by making a big deal out of them all the first week and putting them in my Back to School Kahoot as well. The more I talk about them, the more it rubs off on students and they help me monitor too.
Students have already been coming in and asking if I still have all my pencils and so far so good with the binders. I switched from tape dispensers to tape runners and that helped some. Although some people haven't figured out how to use the tape runners and ruined the refills inside to the point I don't even know how to fix them?
So there's that.
But something else keeps coming up and I'm not sure how to deal with it.
I pride myself on my relationships with students and building a positive classroom culture. Two Nice Things, Shoutouts. Celebrating birthdays. Compliments. Decor. Organization. Smells good in my room.
But I haven't completely made the classroom a safe place. My group of juniors this year are split for the first time. The past two years the class was super quiet and it was like pulling teeth to talk. This year my fifth hour class is super talkative and my sixth hour class is like medium talkative. But the fifth hour class, unprompted, have already told me how much better this class is, how it's so laid back, how they will definitely ask questions this year, etc, etc.
When I probed further, I found it was basically because of two students that they felt uncomfortable. They were afraid to ask questions or give wrong answers because they didn't want to be made fun of. Once I was aware of this, I noticed that those two who are in my sixth hour have been teasing each other and two other people in their friend group. Not about math and not being mean but the other six students are pretty quiet and I feel like they are already picking up on the fact that they might be next to get teased. While I appreciate talkative students and having a good laugh, I don't want to do that at the expense of someone else or their learning.
So...now what? How do I approach those two? First of all, I would definitely have to do it separately because together it would be a hilarious joke. Right now we are commenting through Google Classroom so that's one way I could privately address it. Is that appropriate? I'm not good at "hallway talks".
I don't even know what to say. But I know that the change I've seen in just one week from the previous year means that this first week could have a big impact on the rest of this year for my sixth hour class.
In the past when I've tried talking to some 'troublemakers' and talked about how they are a leader and their behavior affects others and the class, it's almost inflated their ego and I usually get some kind of response like "It's not my fault they follow me" or "I never asked to be a leader" etc and so I gave up on that perspective. I also feel that being too 'touchy feely' for lack of a better word is not my style and wouldn't come across sincere.
And then after whatever speech I give, how do I follow up?
I can already sense that they would blow it off and say they are just having fun, their friends know their kidding, etc etc. But I don't want to assume.
How do you address the strong personalities in your class when they make others uncomfortable?