Snoozing and losing
One of the decisions a teacher has to make in classroom management, especially at the middle school and high school level, has to do with students paying attention in class. Apparently, here is a news flash for some adults who are not classroom teachers: a teacher cannot MAKE a student pay attention.
We can have all the right moves. We can move around the room as we are instructing. We can use humor and interesting stories and metaphors, we can let students know that we will randomly call on them and that their ability to respond is a part of their grade. However, there are still going to be those who will tune out their teacher, no matter what. And unless you require students to keep their hands visible at all times, take a guess as to how many students are texting during class, no matter how hawk-eyed the teacher is.
Yesterday, I removed a phone from the possession of a student who I could tell was sending his thumbs flying over the keypad. When I asked for it, he claimed he was only checking the time (you do realize that kids today do not wear watches because their phones display the time, right?). My response? I pointed sweetly to the large clock displayed on the wall and raised an eyebrow. He at least had the grace to hang his head and hand over the phone. It was apparently an epidemic that day, because no fewer than six of my colleagues on my hallway also noted that they had to confiscate phones that afternoon. Maybe they were all texting each other.
My favorite story is the parent who, at parent conferences, claimed that her kid knew that education was priority one and that there was no excuse for her not paying attention, but who later admitted that she herself text-messaged her kid during the school day, sometimes several times. There went my eyebrow again in the face of such a blatant disconnect from reality. (By the way, phones are supposed to be turned off during the day according to district policy. Ha.)
Then there's the sleeping issue. I know many of my colleagues don't care if kids put their heads down in their classes, I guess thinking that at least the student can't be a behavior problem if he's asleep. I do not allow heads to be down, nor do I allow sleeping. If a student is sick, I send her to the nurse. Otherwise heads are up and eyelids are open. I think this policy not only greatly increases the chances of actually learning something, but I also frankly think it is disrespectful to the teacher to sleep in class. Now listen, I am one of the most tired people on the planet. I admit I don't get enough sleep, and I do get sleepy at my evening class. But I make myself uncomfortable enough (too cold, assume awkward position, avoid propping head on hand,etc.) to make sleeping very difficult. Kids need to realize that they can't stay up all night texting their friends and then not pay the consequences.
How do you handle sleeping and other distractions from learning?