Shut Up Before You Say Something Useless

I have a student in one of my classes who, inevitably, asks something stupid and useless, usually when I’m angry. It has become a tradition that my only answer is to tell him to shut up.

Last week, I let him and his fellow students choose their seats rather than remaining in the ones I assigned for them. I don’t usually do this, but this class needed a shake up and the new seating plan lasts only if it produces good behavior. If it doesn’t, they get up to three strikes before they go back to the old seating chart or to a new one that I assign.

(Note: the record for return to old seats is fifteen minutes, not counting the time I cancelled the change during the seating process because the students wouldn’t follow the rules.)

Today’s class got two strikes in rapid succession. Students to my right had formed a small conversation circle and students to my left followed suit. All were talking when I was trying to explain the assignment.

When I broke up the second circle I announced the class had two strikes and that one more would lead to a new seating chart they wouldn’t like.

As I spoke, the student I mentioned before started shouting “teacher, teacher, teacher” forgetting that I don’t respond to common nouns, only proper ones. Finally, even though I was still speaking, he figured out he had to call me by my name. I told him to be quiet because 1) I was talking and 2) I knew that nothing he would say would be useful.

He kept up the name chant until finally just asking his question: “Who got the first strike?” I told him I’d just told him. “Who got the first strike?” This conversation repeated a few more times until I told him to shut up, which he did.

Keep in mind, I do not think any of this makes me either a great person or a great teacher. It just means I’ll have to think up a new seating chart for next week.

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