I've experienced similar situations when we had academic probation students
mandated to our workshops when I was teaching at Indiana University.
Depending upon the level of disruption, timing of the disruption, number of
people involved, etc.,  I've done things ranging from speaking quietly to
the one person while the rest of the group was doing an activity to asking a
group of frat brothers to leave so that others could learn.  The best and
most effective strategy was when I was in a rather old classroom giving a
workshop on time management, and certain folks sitting in the back of the
room with their heads against the wall and feet on the desks with an angry
glare in their eyes were getting disruptive.  I began the workshop without
saying anything, and as some disruptive behavior got worse, I said, "Let  me
pause for a moment and share a story about learning with you..."  I
proceeded to share with them an incident I had read about in Mike Rose's
book "Lives on the Boundary".  I set the stage by talking about this
teacher, blah blah, blah and how he had looked around an old classroom wall
one day and noticed a smudgy line running around the room.  He realized that
the line was just at head level where people had leaned against the wall and
the oils from their hair had formed the mark.  It was amazing how fast these
people sat up straight and then proceeded to pay attention.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!


Lisa C. D'Adamo-Weinstein
Director, Reading & Study Skills Program
Center for Enhanced Performance
6313 Washington Hall
United States Military Academy
West Point, NY 10996
phone 914-938-7815
fax 914-938-2481
[log in to unmask]

"Teachers are those who use themselves as bridges, over which they invite
their students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully
collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own."
Nikos Kazantzakis

-----Original Message-----
From: Jenny Ruchhoeft [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 4:05 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: "Hey, you in the back...Mr./Ms. Inattentive!"

To Listserve members who would be willing to share any effective teaching
tools for difficult audiences:

I am an academic counselor at a large four year university.  In addition to
meeting individually with students for academic success counseling, I give
workshops throughout the semester on various academic topics (e.g. time
management, preparing for exams, test anxiety, notetaking, reading
comprehension, learning styles, etc.).  I try to make sure that I clearly
present the information, include colorful slides, and make the workshops as
interactive as possible.  In addition, I always ask for feedback and
encourage participation.  Generally, the students who participate in the
workshops are eager to receive the helpful information.  On occasion
(written with some sarcasm), students attend the workshops because they
have to do so for course credit and are not exactly attentive or
respectful.  Likewise, when guest lecturing a class on any of these topics,
sometimes a segment of the class has become disruptive (perhaps the
substitute-teacher phenomenon).  I have learned not to take this
inattention personally :) and I would like to improve my ability to reach
disruptive students without shaming them in front of the class.  In other
words, I want to learn what has worked for guiding the students (i.e.
aligning with them, if you will) instead of blasting them with feedback
that might feed into their negative attention-seeking behavior.

Do any of you have creative ideas or teaching savvy that you would be
willing to share?

Please respond directly to my email address: [log in to unmask] (just copy and
paste into the "To" address slot) unless you feel that the information
would be pertinent for others' on the list to know.

Jenny Ruchhoeft
Academic Cslr.
Univ. of Houston