So I’ve discovered the best way to keep an unruly class of 13 year old’s under control is to simply overwhelm them with the force of your personality. Imagine that your presence fills the whole room, like it’s a cove and your voice is a massive wave that booms and explodes up the sides of the rock, drenching everything and knocking everybody off their feet. As soon as they’re in their seats you walk up and there you go, talking loudly, expansively, walking up and down the aisles, making eye contact and keeping everybody engaged and focused.
But, sometimes, kids will stop and talk. They’ll turn around to chat to the person behind them, or lean across to whisper something to the person by their side. They’ll make quiet comments without moving, or otherwise display an egregious lack of attention.
Sacrilege! How do I deal with this? Divers methods have suggested them over the months, and have found equal usage by me, your humble 8th grade teacher. I shall list a couple here.
1) Faux politeness. “Excuse me, Pedro, am I interrupting you?” Wait for them to stare at you wide eyed, unsure as to how to proceed, frozen by the role reversal. “No seriously. I don’t want to be rude. Let me know when I continue.” Passive aggressive xmax!
2) Break it down mega-simple, “Excuse me, Pedro. How do you spell QUIET? You don’t seem familiar with the word. Can you spell it for me?” If they start spelling it with a ‘K’, lead the class in a rousing bout of derisive laughter.
3) Get confrontational. “Pedro. What part of quiet don’t you understand? Do you think I’m talking for my own health up here?” Not the best. You end up looking a little desperate.
4) The Magic Johnson N0-Look-Pass: While still speaking, seamlessly work in their name into what you’re saying and then amp up the volume, wheeling around to stare at them by the time you’ve finished calling them out. “So that’s why transition words are key, because as I’ve said, they link your PEDRO!” Insert glare, wait for them to subside.
5) Quiet tones of menace. Walk up to their desk, lean in, loom over them, fists planted on the corners of their desk, and stare them in the eyes. Then say, speaking like Judge Dredd, but all quiet and gravelly, “Pedro. If I hear you speaking one more time, I’m going to tear you apart and eat you raw. No pepper, no salt, just bloody gobbets torn like strips of slim jim from your bones. Understand?” They usually do.
6) An unexpected touch of the ultra-violence. Spin around, sprint up to their desk and SLAM your hand as hard as you can on their desk’s surface. BAM! Leap back, and then freeze them with a glare, hand held up so they can see your palm going all red and tingly. Then, like Bruce Lee, turn to stare at your own palm, mouth open as you wheeze an exhalation, and then back at them. You won’t be sorry for long with this technique.
7) Random chaos! This one requires that you have a glass or something on your own desk. When they start chatting, snatch it up and hurl it as hard at you can at the wall over their heads. Then pick up shards and dance around for like 10 seconds, tracing a web of sharpness over their head, all the while shaking your head from side to side, like you’re saying, don’t push me, I’m loco, I know kung fu!
8) Flip their desk. Just flip it. After, say in casual tones, “I told you I would flip you for real. Flip you. I flipped you.” They never expect this one.
9) The classic ‘Old Mr. Shrieky’. Freaks them the hell out. Again, the trick is to start shrieking mid sentence, really high pitched, really lose your shit, standing right over them, staring down at their face. Massive emotional overwhelmation. “And that’s why we use transitional words in expository OH MY GOD PEDRO WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM DO YOU WANT TO NEVER PASS 8TH GRADE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.” The trick is to zone out after you’re done ranting with this one, just stare at nothing for like fifteen seconds, completely unresponsive. Then shake your head, smile nervously, run your hands through your hair like twenty times, and laugh while shooting them looks out of the corner of your eye. Old Mr. Shrieky never fails.
10) The ‘Vicious Shush’. This requires speed of movement to work successfully. Like a cobra, turn and snap your head in their direction, eyes all a-googly, and hiss out a really sharp, “SHHH!” at them.
11) Or I guess you could just ask them to be quiet. “Excuse me Pedro, I’m trying to speak here. Can you be quiet and listen up?” This one works, most of the time, I guess, if you have no imagination or passion for teaching. I guess.
What do you guys think? Am I missing any key tricks here?