In most classrooms a teacher will be confronted by a variety of students who, if allowed, will demand virtually all of his or her time and attention.
- There are the undisciplined rowdies who create problems in class. These range from students who are noisy and interfere with your instruction to the troublemaker who is surly, a bully to other students, or aggressive toward you, the teacher.
- There are students who have absolutely no interest in learning. They are in school only because the law demands it. They are happy in their ignorance, and their parents are apparently also content for them to be that way. They pay no attention in class, they do not do homework. You could spend every class session with them, and they would remain stuck at the bottom.
- There are the students who have a need to be noticed by others. They are not mean or destructive, but they do keep others from learning. They are the pranksters, the talkers, the ones who attract attention by their cute little actions.
- There are students who are starved for attention and affection. They want and need all of your attention. They don’t think about the other 25 students in the class. They may be pitiful or even lovable, but if they are able to occupy too much of your time, others in the class will suffer neglect.
- There are some who, for whatever reason, are struggling to keep up with the class. They may be limited in their ability to learn. They may have a bad home environment or no parental support. They may have fallen behind because of frequent moves, personal illness, or sickness at home. They may be immigrants, or English may be a new language for them. Certainly they need attention, but again, what of their 25 classmates?
By middle school, there will likely be at least one or two rowdies in most classes. There will be two or three of those who love to show off. One or more will beg for your attention and affection. Two or three will be struggling.
The effective teacher will never forget his or her duty to help all of the class, not just the few mentioned above. The good students who do their work, who behave properly, must not be overlooked and neglected because they are nice and cooperative. They have a right to the needed instruction that will prepare them for their next class level. In fact, one might conclude that they deserve a fair share of your attention so they can get the full benefit of the days they have spent in your classroom.
For all to get the education they deserve, you must establish your authority and control of your class from the first day of school. Once the chaos has begun it is tenfold harder to get things back under control.
It may be close to the end of the school year, but it’s not too late to turn the tide. Even though they are nice, don’t allow one or more of your students to dominate your time. Make it your goal to see that every child who wants to learn and make something of his or her life gets the opportunity to do so while under your tutelage.
John Waddey is a public speaker. He is an editor and the author of 50 books. He has traveled and spoken in 23 foreign nations. He is the father of four children.