Gladly Would I Teach

I learned how to become a better teacher by watching, listening, and questioning other teachers for over thirty years. Now that I am retired, it's my turn to pass on my strategies, philosophies, successes, and failures to others who may learn from my experiences.

17 Feb

Time’s Up! Next Desk Please

Posted in General, Student Behavior, Teacher Frustration on 17.02.10

Yesterday I was reading another blog that listed ideas of ways to get students to stay in their desks. Please Sit Down As I read some of the suggestions, I remembered an extremely clever and effective strategy that another teacher employed many years ago.

Todd was an energetic eighth grader who simply could not stay in his desk. When he misbehaved, he jumped up out of his seat. When he participated in discussions, he jumped out of his seat. If something across the room even remotely looked exciting, Todd jumped out of his seat.

Todd jumped out of his seat in the morning and in the afternoon.

In first period and seventh period

In English class and in math

At lunch and homeroom.

His team teachers were exasperated and talked to Todd privately, called parents, assigned extra homework, punished and rewarded, but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, Leslie held him for detention, something none of us had tried. Why hold him for detention when we knew he would pop up all over the place and drive us crazy? But Leslie had a plan.

When Todd reported to her room for detention after school, she told him to sit in his desk. Then she explained the rules. “Since you love to jump out of your seat, we’ll play a little game,” she told Todd. She then pulled out a stopwatch. “I’m going to set the watch for 30 seconds. When time expires, I’ll say, ‘Time’s up,’ and you’ll move to the next desk in the row.” Todd smiled, and Leslie clicked the stop watch.

“Time’s up!  Move please.” Todd enthusiastically jumped up and moved to the next seat.

Todd had so much fun . . . the first 10 minutes.

Twenty minutes into detention, he was bored and quietly moved to the next desk.

Forty minutes into detention, he was so tired of moving that he asked the teacher if he could stop. “Just 20 more minutes, Todd, and you’ll be through.”

“I’m tired,” he whined, but she reminded him of how tired all of his teachers were of constantly telling him to sit down.

When detention ended, Leslie explained to him that she loved his enthusiasm but he couldn’t keep jumping up from his desk and wandering around the room because it was disruptive. “Tomorrow when you are in class,” she reminded him, “you have to stay in your desk. If you jump up again, we’re going to be right back here in detention with the stopwatch.”

The punishment was revolutionary. While Todd continued to get excited in class and sit on the edge of his seat, we no longer had to warn, prod, punish, chastise, and chase Todd back to his seat.

Jumping up out of a desk apparently is lots of fun . . . unless you have to do it every 30 seconds for a solid hour!

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