Yesterday, John Stevens and I have a workshop for the lovely math teachers of Madera County. It was fantastic.
The drive up and down gave us plenty of time in the car to listen to Jimmy Fallon skits and female-fronted rock bands, but also time to discuss our new roles as EdTech Coaches in our respective districts.
Our conversation landed on:
Policing Student Behavior
We knew of coaches (and other adults on school campus) that tend to bark at students for wrong-doing. When we were children, the “it takes a village” mindset was pervasive;
…kids didn’t misbehave around adults quite as much. There was a good chance they’d tell your parents or just take care of discipline themselves.
In the last couple decades, many parents have been empowered to give their kids whatever the hell they want and to bark at other adults for offering co-parenting when they’re unavailable.
Comedian Chris Titus has a lot to say on the parenting shift of the last 30 years, but this part stands out to me:
I never misbehaved in my neighborhood, even though my dad worked a lot. You know why? Because I had neighbors. And if my dad wasn’t around to beat my ass… someone would pinch-hit for him.
As Coaches, we often go into classes to support teachers.
Teachers who need support have disproportionately… rowdy classes.
Today, I watched a 3rd-grade boy slap a girl on the thigh when she wasn’t looking, she squealed and hit him in the arm. No harm done.
At the high-school level, a colleague of mine watched a boy make disparaging remarks about a girl all period, until the girl stood, clocked him in the face, and screamed, “Fuck you!”
The Givachit Scale
Here’s why I wouldn’t take those students to the office if I were standing in the back of the room.
Students have a bunch of adults in their lives. The graph below (which, like all my material, is copiously researched and not at all made up on the spot) describes the Givachit value for each group.
During my teaching career, many more students “Givachit” what their siblings think of their behavior than their pastor. Teachers will have the highest return by contacting those members of the student’s social circle with the largest slice. I’ve told Grandma about a student’s behavior and gotten much more mileage than with Mom.
Notice how tiny the slice is for District Stooge? That’s why I don’t intervene with students. Because the exchange will likely go like this:
Vaudrey (tough teacher voice): Watch your mouth.
Unruly Youth: Who the hell are you?
Vaudrey: I’m a teacher on special assignment to coach other teachers on effective integration of technology into the classroom. Watch your mouth.
Unruly Youth: What if I don’t?
Vaudrey: Then we go to the office and you get written up for defiance. What’s your name?
Unruly Youth: Barack Obama
Vaudrey: Okay, that’s it. Let’s go to the office
Unruly Youth: [continues sipping sugary drink]
Vaudrey: Okay… I’m gonna go find a security officer to escort you. Don’t move.
My family is not one to gamble, but I’d wager over half my interactions would end similarly. Odds are pretty high that the student who will curse in front of a stranger in a tie isn’t afraid of the consequences.
Also, it’s not worth my time to correct a strange teenager, considering the reciprocal scale guiding my actions:
~Matt “Go ahead and chew gum in class” Vaudrey