This is my fifth year teaching and my first teaching theatre for every class period (I also taught band and choir before). Though I feel more comfortable with middle school, as most of my directing experience has been with that age group, I have this one teaching obstacle that has followed me to my new position - and nothing I've ever done to change it has fully worked: I am constantly having kids talk over me, interject, and waste class time with silly behavior. Each class has a few students who, when I tell them to do something (sit down, put that down, get off the floor, etc) often just look at me like I'm playing a game with them and make me repeat myself a few times before they agree. I don't smile or laugh. After the second or third time, I sternly tell them that I shouldn't have to ask more than once. Then they finally do it.
I'm particularly disappointed this year because I started at my new position so strong - and the kids are very respectful in this district. I thought I'd solved it...But I just finished my first month and they are doing what I was used to happening before this position. If I say "make sure your masks are on right and make a circle on stage," it takes 2 minutes to get them in a circle and another 15 seconds to get them to stop talking over me. When I'm explaining things, they call out and I have to remind repeatedly not to interrupt. When doing improv and asking for volunteers, they all shout - and some even get up and try to go on stage without even being called on.
Maybe it's not as chaotic as I'm painting it - as we do get a lot of learning - and it's mostly the transitions in my lessons that bring this behavior about, but I'm tired of somehow welcoming this behavior year after year. I re-direct. I get everyone quiet and efficiently and seriously explain what behavior I expect ... And it isn't a matter of writing students up, because it's clearly a teacher issue, and not a few students. I mean, I'm at least glad that the issue isn't students being negative or refusing to participate. But...I just really want to solve this.
I don't in any way attempt to be buddy-buddy with students. Students aren't rude to me or trying to intentionally disrespect me either. My last move is usually pointing out that the behavior is disrespectful to me - because they don't want to do that.
You're getting wonderful tips here - I will probably be using these suggestions, too!
Another tip I learned from a colleague that helps with transitions is to simply give them a countdown to move to a circle or to get into place... 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. They have a little time to move to a circle or get ready to start a scene over. I have found that helpful. Depending on what we're doing, I can start the countdown at 10 or at 5 or at wherever. Sometimes it helps just to review the expectations for transitioning ... for their audience behavior... for the expectations during improv.
Have a great year!
Thank you to everyone who replied - either below or in a private message. It really makes a difference hearing from theatre teachers specifically. When I've gone to admin or core teachers before, they always assume I need to work on relationships - as if the students pushing boundaries are rebelling against me and my class...But it's not the case in my class - it's almost like they are too comfortable with me and my classroom, and that's something that I really beat myself up over. If it was a question of not establishing a relationship, these students wouldn't be shouting at me in the hallways and at lunch asking what we're going to be doing in class.Still...I have this dread of developing the reputation of "that" teacher that lets kids do whatever they want. My first year, despite much success at contest and great performances, many veteran teachers loved to say no learning ever happened in my class, so I'm particularly sensitive to that - even knowing I've improved much in the area of classroom management. At least my biggest teaching struggle is maintaining focus and not getting kids engaged and buying in. I'd rather have my classroom than a silent, still class that doesn't welcome student ownership or creativity.
Anyway, done venting... I'm eager to use all the advice given! Thanks so much!