01 December 2010

Misbehavin' in the college classroom

Professor Bainbridge has an interesting post up about how profs should manage classroom misbehavior in a college setting.

I remember one philosophy prof of mine flinging an eraser at a frat boy when he popped open a copy of the newspaper (ca. 1983).  And I remember another philosophy prof demanding that all the guys in class remove their caps.  

I started teaching undergrad English in 1987, long before laptops and wireless internet access became university entitlements.  The daily campus newspaper often made an appearance on desktops (the non-cyber kind), but my classes were always heavy on reading and discussion.  Also, I was rather free and eager in calling on students to answer questions.  

During summer sessions at U.D., facebooking, etc. became a problem, so I started calling on the miscreants to read aloud and explicate passages from the assigned readings.  After being called on for the third time in a row, the offenders usually got the point and stopped the nonsense.  

Any war stories from profs/students on bad classroom behavior?

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  1. I teach high school theology and routinely have interruptions, students with heads down, and sbtudents texting. I have larned o interweave student behavior into moral narratives.

    "And so Jesus said, 'if your texting plan causes you to sin, cut it off,' didn't He, Mr. Smith?"


    "Mr. Smith?"

    *snickers from the rest of the class*

    What most offends me, though, is that it's usually the parents texting their kids in class.

  2. I teach 6th grade Catechism. Just yesterday I had a girl daydreaming in the back during discussion of the Annuciation. I explained how Mary was a girl of 14 or so, minding her own business, when I, Gabriel, with huge wings and a face like the sun, appeared to her.

    I then strode to the back of the room, got down on one knee, and declared, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee" to my bored student, and obliged her to be Mary for the next few minutes, including my announcement that she would be having a baby.

    That is a typical response, where I physically engage a kid in the learning process. I should mention I do have occasional troubles with electronic devices, but the above tactic cures them.

  3. I sometimes tell students that their baseball caps block the knowledge rays (put out hands at arms' length, wiggle fingers) block the knowledge rays from penetrating their skulls. Sometimes it works.

  4. Wow, I just realized how poor my typing was earlier. Blame the iPad. Stupid tiny keypad!

  5. Hi - long(ish) time reader, first time commenter. I like your preparedness to be interactive with the students and call upon them. When I wear my 'student hat' I never enjoy simply being talked at, but like to 'test' the material and its great when a lecturer is prepared to explore an idea with a student.

    Back as an undergrad in a business/computing class, I was constantly amazed at how irate my professor would be if someone got up to the bathroom or something similarly benign and justifiable. It became exasperating for the rest of us as students and made for disjointed coverage of the lecture material - he had a very poor classroom management style indeed!

    A little further on when I did my theology study I found all of the lecturers more grounded in reality. There was a mutual respect between lecturer and student... of course at postgrad level everyone is a whole lot more serious and motivated so there weren't any incidents requiring management.

  6. Anonymous10:36 AM

    I remember a prof at UD who chain smoked cigs while he lectured and would fling away cig butts without really paying attention to where they went. The students had to pay attention so they would know when to duck!

  7. Anonymous11:38 AM

    My unconstitutional monarchist history prof would say that %5 of the students actually deserve and belong in a university. Perhaps another 10% don't deserve to be there, but rise to the occassion and demonstrate they belong there and can handle the work. The other 85%... well that's the larger problem of what's wrong with the university over rude classroom behavior.