Monday, February 14, 2005

The Trouble

I know, once you lose your authority in a class, it's nearly impossible to get it back.

Right now things are slipping in my afternoon class. There are three students who sit right in the center of the room, and I need to figure out how to deal with them.

There is bad-attitude-girl who sneers at me when I tell her to put away the newspaper or to stop sending text messages on her cell phone. Of the three, she is the only one whose actions can be objectively described as unacceptable (and explained as such to someone who was not in the classroom at the time). Not coincidentally, she is the least bright of the three. She makes snide comments to the people who sit near her, especially the other two troublesome students.

There is smart-but-lazy-guy. I have a hunch he is up to something, but I'm not yet sure what. I'm not sure if he realizes that I am smarter and more devious than he is. He conspires with the other two troublesome students.

And, sitting dead center in the classroom, is the ringleader. He has an imposing physical presense. Very, very tall and athletic, he sprawls out at his desk, taking up a lot of space. He plays the role of the hick: big belt buckle, chews on a toothpick in class. He refuses to call me by my name -- uses "Ms." instead of "Dr." and spells my last name phonetically. His comments are mildly disruptive -- repeatedly so, stirring an undercurrent of discontent. He doesn't bring a notebook and he doesn't take notes; this, in itself, isn't a problem, but he spends the entire class watching me in a way that makes me very uncomfortable.

I need to figure out to take charge of the situation and to keep the defiant attitude from spreading to the other students. And how do I call their bluff without dragging the other students into this? I doubt that the answer will come from adding another of inch of height to my shoes.