To be honest and direct…

We read an article today entitled “Teaching in a Disruptive Classroom” written by Syracuse University professor Marvin Druger. Professor Druger explained that he teaches an introductory biology class of several hundred students in a large lecture hall. During the class the professor received several complaints about the classroom behavior of others.

Professor Druger decided to send an email message to all the students in his course. In his note he made the students aware that he had received complaints from students who are distracted by certain behaviors and he requested that the few students who were causing the disruption to consider their behaviors.

The week after sending the email to all the students in the large class, the results were very gratifying. “Students had stopped being disruptive and were attentively listening to the lecture and taking notes,” said Druger.

After reading this article we noted how that seemed to be a rather a simple solution. We mused over the image of having this professor teach in some of the challenging classrooms many of us have experienced!

Later, however, we started rethinking the importance of Dr. Druger’s words. Maybe his response wasn’t so simple. As teachers we often try to solve class problems by ourselves, or we go to a colleague, or maybe we just complain about our situation. What we don’t often do is what Professor Druger did: take the issue to our students. Although we are not naïve enough to think this will solve all of the complicated issues of our classroom, it is certainly a place to start. When situations are spoken about honestly and directly with our students, they become part of solving the problem. We might even receive the same response as the professor.

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July 26, 2008. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

“Americans would rather be dead than disabled.”

We were struck by one of today’s headlines: “Americans would rather be dead than disabled” (http://www.reuters.com/article). What implications does this have for us as teachers? Each year we have several students with exceptionalities in our classrooms. Just like any other student they want to feel capable, successful, and independent. It is our responsibility to help them progressively feel this way. It is far too common that students with disabilities are simply part of our class: they are welcomed and treated kindly by us. Although this is important, it is not enough. We also need to help these students become capable and contributing members of our classroom and society.

July 11, 2008. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.