In all the years I’ve been teaching I’ve only been broken by a class once.
That happened last year, but first let me explain some background.
The school where I work is top tier private boys school with a Christian leaning (more on that later). However, as declining birthrates take their toll, the school has begun to lower its standards for admission from “future leader of Japan” to “Japanese and breathing”.
The first taste of this came several years ago when when had a class of junior high first years that were almost to a person bad. They weren’t just rowdy in a large group of teenaged boys kind of way, they were bad in a hostile, don’t give a shit kind of way. They were so bad that when we had a chance to meet their elementary school teachers, we asked them “what the hell happened? What did you do?” They said it was just a bad class but the next class would be better. This was mostly true and I ended up dubbing that group of students the “Demon Seed Class”.
The school also has a relaxed discipline style that allows the students a lot more leeway. The result is the least Christian Christian school imaginable. For example, if I enter a homeroom class two minutes before the bell, no students acknowledge me. They continue playing until the bell rings and then they get settled.The Demon Seed Class wouldn’t even settle in then, until I started giving homework if they took longer than two minutes to get settled.
The Demon Seeds were the worst class I’d taught until last year, when I had the perfect storm of bad in one third year junior high class. They’d been minor Demon Seeds for two years, then I seemed to get all the worst students.
To make matters worse, I was working four nights a week and not getting home until 11 and then going to bed well after midnight only to get up around 5:30. I was exhausted and couldn’t focus and became afraid to go to the bad junior high class, even though I only met them one a week. They smelled the fear and their behavior got worse.
Eventually, the evening classes finished and I got my bearings back but the class was pretty much lost. By the end of the year I divided them into two groups: the “study room” for students who actually wanted to study and the “play room” at the back for students who wanted to play. (I can’t legally throw them out of class.)
A few of those students were barred from entering high school, but I now have several students from that bad class. Luckily, I can now throw them out and fail them. Interestingly enough, now that I can do that, I haven’t had to.