Theories of Relativity

This week we started our after school program. Among the students in my group is Baby Face, my most challenging student. Throughout the day he seems unable to stay focused on the task whether it's class discussions on the rug or independent work at his desk. Whatever the situation, he is either talking to his neighbor or getting into some other mischief.

But that changes during after school. In the after school program he is much more focused, and much more productive. I still sense a lot of the same pent up energy I see throughout the day, and yes it's only two days into our program, but so far, he's practically a star of the class. Why is that?

The most obvious explanation is the class size. Only six kids showed up from my roster yesterday. Today there were seven. With fewer students around, there's fewer distractions for him. There's also fewer temptations, in the form of his buddies, to cause distractions. So, while there's still moments where he seems almost uncontrollably worked up, his work's been mostly exemplary.

The other theory I have - which doesn't negate the first - is based on another student in the group. This other boy has a lot of the same behaviors of Baby Face, but with an added attitude. I don't mind students who have trouble sitting still, paying attention or raising their hand to talk, because those are habits that can be worked on. A nasty attitude though...sigh. This boy also happens to be a close friend of Baby Face, which makes Baby Face's restraint all the more surprising. You would think the two would feed off each other, but (knock on wood) so far Baby Face hasn't joined in on the trouble making. Why is that?

I wonder if Baby Face sees this other boy causing problems, and taking the heat, and feels freed by it? Maybe part of the reason he acts out the way he does is because other students (and I?) expect him to. With another boy filling that role, he doesn't have to.

Whatever the reason, the smaller class size, psychology, or some combination of the two, I hope Baby Face's focus continues. More than that, I hope he can build on his success during after school, and extend it to the regular school hours.


Pete Zucker said…
Here's the problem I have with you Ruben. You straddle the fence. You take both sides of any issue so when the dust settles, you can claim you were on the right side. Even with "Baby Face.".

Ruben, full disclosure, share with all your association with E4E.
Ruben Brosbe said…
A Teacher, I think you may have a valid point when you say I straddle the fence. I've wondered too if I try too hard to hedge my bets or avoid controversy. "Teaching to the test is bad." Shocker! "Kids should love to learn." Woa, there radical!

Then again, I'm not sure what two sides I'm straddling when it comes to "Baby Face". I also have to question your criticism, since it started right after I DID take a clear stance. It just happened to be one you disagreed with.

Finally, I'm not sure what full disclosure you're looking for. You make E4E sound like some shadowy group pulling the strings of government. It's a group of educators who are working to help teachers become a bigger a part of the policy discussion. It seems like a pretty decent idea, but I couldn't tell you too much about it, since I just joined their mailing list.
Pete Zucker said…
it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that "baby face" in a smaller setting is able to be 180 degrees different. Even if the other boy is a nudge, the fact that most students like "baby face" thrive in a smaller setting, and one on one situations. Why it comes as some kind of surprise to you is curious.

Now about your E4E affiliation. E4E is about a step up from the Hitlerjugend. If you believe that E4E is about a bunch of teachers getting together to help teachers more involved in policy, you are more naive than I thought. E4E is funded, by DFER, Whitney Tilson, Joe Williams, etc... Please spare me their propaganda. Evan Stone and Sydney Morris are puppets.

And you are just a member? I guess I am because I signed up under Joey Jo Jo Shabadoo. I know plenty who signed up, and none of them consider themselves members.
Ruben Brosbe said…
I guess you weren't a fan of Jon Stewart's rally? Comparing your opponents to the Nazis? That's so last year. In any case, if you want to discuss the issues (I bet we would agree 90% of the time) I think we could have some productive arguments. If you want to simply demonize the people you disagree with, I don't think there's much point to continuing the conversation.

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