July 6, 2011
Wow, that title sounded way less pervy when I wrote it.
I started teaching middle schoolers yesterday and let me tell you something. Standards have dropped in a few departments: manners, common sense, and subtlety. Don’t get me wrong, though. Most of the kids were great. They were excited, they shouted their answers, and they took their notes. I had a handful that felt my classroom was their personal playground and I was a glorified babysitter.
Oh, the ignorance of youth.
They learned that I’m a pussycat. They should meet my mom.
I did notice something that I’d known subconsciously for years, but I really got to observe as I watched them do an assignment. Their body language tipped me off to which kids would be trouble from the very beginning. These were the things that I’ve seen students do time and time again.
Future teachers or current students, take note.
When answering a test, a student will hold on to the pencil or pen at all times if he or she is engrossed in the task. You hold on to a pen when you‘re ready to write, and most people generally want to write the answer as soon as possible. Putting the pen down takes time away.
Watch the legs. Legs bent under the table and bobbing up and down signify stress. Legs outstretched for long periods of time mean relaxation. Students with legs outstretched aren’t taking your lecture seriously and aren’t engrossed.
When we’re young, we tend to suck our thumbs or otherwise fiddle with our fingers. I twirl pens in my hand when I think or get nervous. Likewise, every student that chewed a pencil or otherwise twirled something was thinking about something. The only five that didn’t were occupied with something else, talking, or just looking around.
Seating is key. The front rows were full. The kids who want to learn or at least hope to get something out of it go to the front. The second row was likewise full, but the third row was mostly empty. The last few rows had the rest of the students, and, combined with the aforementioned mannerisms, I quickly pegged the ones I would have trouble with.
And I was right.
Long story short, I took away one kid’s chair and made him stand. Hey, if he’s not mature enough to use a chair properly, I can’t very well trust him with it, can I?