"Geeze, that kid is as smart as he looks." I muttered.
The heat and humidity were starting to get to me, eroding my patience for the goofy antics of teenaged boys.
My intern, from Cleveland State, looked across the room to where the lanky kid with the towel draped on top of his head plopped himself down on the table's edge, making faces at his classmate, who had nearly busted him upside his dome during the new teacher's lecture on shading geometric forms.
"Sit in the chair please!"
My voice reflected the testy attitude that accompanied the emerging half-headache.
"So what started the problem?" he asked.
The bewildered look on his face begged a better explaination.
"Our friend was trying to be funny. He gave a two-finger smack to the back of Vonne's head. No reason. Just out of the blue. He was bored. It nearly became a fight over nothing."
"So, how did you deal with it?"
I had solved the problem in the hallway, out of sight and earshot of my intern and the rest of the class. He was eager to hear a first-hand accounting of my classroom management skills in action.
"I had them look me in the eye, stand up straight, explain the problem, then go back in and sit down on different sides of the room. No big deal."
I sometimes forget how tricky and psychological all this stuff looks to the novice. New teachers tend to overreact to some things, and not respond quickly enough to others. Behavior management in the classroom is now so second nature to me, I really have to think hard about what it is I do exactly to make things run smoothly. Knowing what bores kids and figuring out how to keep wandering minds on track, I discovered, is much more important than knowing how to break up a skirmish. These are the things best learned through experience, however.
More difficult for me is this student teacher mentoring. Critiquing without discouraging is really tricky. I'm not very good at taking critisism, so I am very cautious when I have to point out other people's shortcomings.
Perhaps I should talk about the absolute necessity of using humor in a lecture...It's better than saying "Don't be boring."