Why are you so angry?

Everyone is telling me to crack the whip and bring the hammer down and use whatever other disciplinary metaphors exist with my class. Lord knows something needs to change to get everyone focused and put an end to the countless minutes (hours?) wasted to idle chatter. Still, today in spite of some extraordinary disrespect, especially on the part of Gary Coleman Jr. I tried a different approach. A quiet, calm conversation.

GCJ came into class this morning and was throwing a tantrum right away. First period Fridays is my prep and is usually gym. This week there was a change, because one of the gym teachers was absent so instead we had art. Never mind the fact that because of a ballroom dancing program "gym" has been held in my classroom, this change of plans was an unforgivable affront to the students of my class who crave consistency (and perhaps more so, 45 minutes of de facto free time).

I pulled GCJJ out of class after he came in cursing and slamming his stuff around. "You can't always get what you want," I explained, ripping off the Rolling Stones. "That doesn't give you an excuse to throw yourself around and disrespect me and Ms. D [the art teacher]." I counted slowly down from ten and had him take deep breaths while I counted. In spite of this touchy-feely approach to discipline GCJ didn't really get his act together.

Throughout the day his behavior just seemed characterized by an anger and at lunch time when I talked to him again he admitted he was angry about gym. Still. It doesn't make sense to me how a child can hold so much anger inside him and let it throw off his whole day so completely. With GCJ and another problem child I tried to have conversations and get to the root of the question, "What's wrong? What's bothering you so much that's keeping you from being the best student you can be?" Maybe it's too tough of a question to expect a 10 year-old to answer honestly. But I made an attempt and, even if it didn't yield better behavior, at least it felt better for me than yelling and screaming.


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