The mentor teachers put the new teachers in Teacher Boot Camp through a crazy hazing exercise. We had spent some time talking about classroom management. Then they sent all the new teachers out of the room, and called us in one-by-one to tame an unruly classroom.
I was first to go.
I walked in and one of the students had his cellphone playing music, talking lip to me, while another one was sitting on the desk talking loudly across the room to his friends, one had a nerf ball they were playing with, and others were just talking. It was scary. I failed. So I was sent outside of the classroom and asked to come back in to try again.
The same scenario, but this time I took the music-blaring cellphone away, went to the board, and put on a math puzzle, and laid down the challenge to the students. They were hooked. The “no nonsense get to work” approach.
So I passed The Test, and I got to transform myself into one of the unruly students. In each round, as each new teacher passed The Test, there were more and more unruly students and it took the new teachers more and more time and more and more creativity to settle everyone down. Each had a different technique (shutting off the lights, trying to reason with the students, counting aloud). But we unruly children also planned various scenarios for each new teacher to encounter.
My favorite: One girl in the room was in hysterics because her boyfriend cheated on her. There were four other girls comforting her. The boyfriend was in the classroom, taunting her. And then the new teacher walks in. Crying, yelling, the girl’s friends shouting at the boyfriend, and so on. Horrifying.
My second favorite: A new teacher walks up to one of the unruly students named Jose. “Good morning Jose, I’m Ms. [X].” Jose replies, not skipping a beat, “Why do you think my name is Jose? Is it because I’m Puerto Rican?”
Truly classroom management hell.