A school in Summerville, SC recently made news because a visiting speaker about the dangers of DUI was made fun of while on stage(see story here). The students reportedly mocked her scars from her injuries. I have no idea about the usual behavior at that school, but it reminded me of an incident at my own high school when I was a student there.
I went to a somewhat rough high school in California for two years. Plenty of crime, gangs, etc. We had a similar speaker one day and the student reaction was equally bad. I remember being so embarrassed to be a part of the school at that time.
You might think that every class in rougher (or "at-risk" type) schools would constantly be in a state of chaos. It does not have to be that way, however. Looking back, I now realize that there are a few keys to having good discipline in a rough school:
*Do not neglect small discipline issues. The temptation for teachers in rougher schools is to only be concerned about bigger discipline problems. Dealing with smaller issues may seem like a waste of time. Don’t fall into this trap. Many times the enforcement of smaller rules will make students think twice about doing something more severe.
*Avoid the “you against them” atmosphere in class. Emotion should never play a role in enforcing discipline, but this is especially true in rougher schools. If you establish an atmosphere of “teacher vs. student” in this environment then you are asking for trouble.
*Do not hesitate to enforce consequences for an accumulation of minor misbehaviors. Many time students in rougher schools are used to being able to get away with things that are not extreme in nature. This should not occur. Hold them to high standards, and do not let them get away with repeated poor or rude behavior.
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