by Heather A Marshall
In many schools, teachers are blessed with administrators who understand the difficulty of ensuring safety in a science classroom, and they back teachers in any way they can to help support teachers in their safety requirements. However, when the “referral to the office” strategy doesn’t work because students don’t see any consequences for their actions, teachers are required to devise other means of dealing with disruptive and potentially unsafe behaviors in the lab. (This is assuming the teacher has already conferenced with the student, and with the parents before any referral to the office.)
One such strategy I have used is to exclude a student from the activity by sending him or her to the office to sit (suspend from class for the day), and the student receives a zero for the lab activity.
Another method I have used is to keep disruptive students in the class into the passing period if they waste my class time. I tell them the amount of time they waste for me in class they can make up during their passing time. Students are very possessive about their passing time; they like to hang with friends, so this threat often works well. However, you do have to actually hold them to prove you will do what you say. I have found this very effective with my constant chatterers and disruptors.
The send-out-with-a zero-for-the-day strategy I have used with students not following laboratory directions, so the “kick out” is for the safety of everyone in the room. Typically I only have to do this once as well; from then on, the students know I will not deal with inappropriate behavior in the lab.
So even if you are in a district or site where referrals to the office, in terms of discipline, doesn’t work, you can use some of these strategies to take control again.
Heather Marshall teaches CP geology at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill and is CSTA’s high school director.