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Re: Student behavior - I am thinking...


"Amy J. Crouse-Powers" <[log in to unmask]>


Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>


Sat, 6 Nov 1999 15:30:42 EST





text/plain (74 lines)

I haven't had a chance to read all of the responses to this line, but I
must chime in anyway. I hope I am not being redundant redundant.

I was shocked and dismayed at student behavior one semester when I taught
basic English at an urban CC in Baltimore. I was in a computer-assisted
room that had swivel chairs at each workstation. On the first day of
class, I had students zooming across the floor, swiveling and staring at
the ceiling, carrying on LOUD side-conversations, interrupting me with
completely unrelated questions -- all while I was trying to go over the
syllabus. Over the following two weeks, the behavior just got worse and
worse. I was starting to have panic attacks while I was driving to work
because I didn't know how to deal with these what were to me bizarre
behaviors! I hadn't pursued a degree in secondary education because I
didn't want to have to deal with discipline issues in the classroom. But
there I was. Making a long story short, I had one student who was
clearly bipolar, one who turned out to be autistic, one who had mental
retardation, and a few others with severe ADHD. The others hadn't made
the bridge from high school mentality yet.

Out of pure frustration, I consulted a counselor friend of mine who had
dealt with developmental students in a program that taught social skills,
job skills, etc. She came in and gave them a spiel about "The Culture of
College." It is based on Ellis' Becoming a Master Student.

She came in and gave a very intellectualized lecture about the fact that
college life has norms. She had them brainstorm all the cultures from
which they came. She had them compare and contrast those cultures and
the norms for each. Then she, quite deftly I must say, focused on the
behavioral aspects of college.

Especially in the CC, but also at the university where I teach now, I
think a lot of the problem is that students just don't get that the
culture has changed. The stakes of the game are quite different.

For the balance of the semester, I had the class do several writing
assignments about this shift in culture. They wrote descriptions of this
culture. They wrote letters to fictional high school students about this
shift in culture. They analyzed themselves as participants in this new

It worked for me pretty well. It was a rough semester, but the point was
made. I think several of those people benefitted from the direct
instruction in behavior management, and I never had to "discipline" the
class and I never had to get really preachy.

Another tack I have had to take recently is this: I had two students who
were cutting up loudly in my class this semester. I gave them the evil
eye, which quieted them, but after class, I was able to corner one of
them and I said, "Tom, I am not going to spend class time ask