Immature Grade 12 StudentsSo, this year, I am "blessed" with a group of Grade 12 students which feature a number of boys (I hesitate to call them young men) who display behaviour I would expect to...

Immature Grade 12 Students

So, this year, I am "blessed" with a group of Grade 12 students which feature a number of boys (I hesitate to call them young men) who display behaviour I would expect to see from my Grade 3 son. They spend as much of the class as possible wasting time, joking with each other and doing anything except getting down to work. I am getting really tired of coming down on them hard ALL the time, especially as the rest of the class really want to work and are good students. Anybody had the privilege of teaching a similar class of seniors? And any sure fire ways of getting them to grow up?!

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We have the same group of seniors at my school this year.  In fact, I was just talking to another teacher about this today.  My juniors are actually much more mature and focused this year than are my students.

Here are several things that I have found usually work with my immature boys. First, I keep moving constantly--and I do mean physically! I don't sit down in that class very often, even when they are taking a test or quiz. I've found that if I move around the classroom while giving notes or going over assignments, the boys tend to pay better attention. Secondly, I use competition--it has always worked with the boys. I divide my classroom into two sides, and I keep a points tally on the board all semester. It's amazing what the students will do for points. I do offer them small prizes at the end of the semester, but most of them would be just as focused without a prize because of the sense of competition. Finally, I'm not sure how much liberty you have with your curriculum, but if you can offer some high-interest nonfiction selections, you might even be able to turn some of those boys into readers. Here are several books that worked really well last year with my male students when I had them complete an independent nonfiction project:

Columbine by David Cullen

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Either of the Freakonomics Books

The Burn Journals

Stiff (a book about how human cadavers are used)

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have that class too!!! Why is it that there always has to be that one? I find with mine if I keep my cool most of the time and maintain the same proximity focus I have with younger kids everything gets better for a time. Also, I start my year with a careers and college unit that drives focus. This unit makes some of them realize they can only go so far with the attitude and bent they currently have. As they accept that, I sort of do too. Of course I keep pushing them, but I ask them about what they want to be and try to connect my lessons somewhat to what they will eventually do.

These types of guys sometimes end up being firefighters or police. If we teach English, we need to drive home the idea of the reports they will write after a major fire or upon investigation of a crime scene. What about when they are interviewed on television after a major crime?

Another thing I have done is just let them chill or do whatever as long as no one gets hurt. I invite the kids who want to learn to come around my desk and we'll go through the lesson while the other kids do whatever. I do expect them to be quiet so I can work with the kids that want to learn. Eventually the bad boys get bored. Especially when I award my strong learners with high fives, huge compliments, pieces of candy or good times. Of course I am still cordial to the other guys, but I have often found after a couple of class sessions go by, my desk has far too many kids and everyone is back on board. Just an idea that has worked for me before... a word to the wise though, this only works once a year.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Missy on the "let them chill" idea.  I've found there is no way to fight this battle and win (come on, seniors?) so I lay out the "Plan for Graduation" and ask them, seriously, how low of a grade are they really willing to accept.  While some are admittedly content with a D, most end up agreeing that a C would be more acceptable.  I then give them my behavioral expectations for a C.  This means they can choose to sit in my class and do nothing after I am done teaching, as long as they stay seated and keep conversation to a "working level."

I've found that most often, despite immaturity, when leveled with, these kids actually respond to a more relaxed atmosphere better than attempting to keep an unrealistically high standard, and more often than not, the rest of the semester actually improves a little.

I also try really hard to build personal relationships in classes like this.  More often than not, these kids are actually freaking out about their futures (and perhaps dreading the stigma that comes with the fact that they have no plans at all), and having an adult in their court at the last leg really pushes them to think about something besides playing.

And, well, if nothing else, if you chill out and have a little fun, at least you can keep a little more of your own sanity.  Administrators are usually understanding of classes like this and would probably support you.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've had several of those classes over the years. My professional opinion is that the best disciplinary system is a well-planned, engaging curriculum that appeals to all of the learners in the classroom.

What I recommend is that you think about each of the boys, as well as the little group of them, and identify some characteristics that you could use to your advantage if you developed some lesson activities that accessed those characteristics and skills.

For example, there is most likely a "ringleader" of the group. Find ways to give him leadership roles in class activities. This will acknowledge a strength of his and give it a positive direction.

If they are big-time socializers, then be sure that you have plenty of small group activities that permit structured discussion.

You also need to be friendly, firm, and fair in your dealings with them that have a disciplinary nature. Acknowledge when a disruption must be handled, then handle it without making a character judgement. Finally, and this is the most difficult thing for many teachers, erase it from your mind before the next class period. Each kid should walk through the door with a clean slate. This will establish you as a teacher who values students as people even though you deal with negative behaviors with consequences and even punishment as needed.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow, how is it that we all have the same group of seniors?  No wonder they're tired of school.  I have taught seniors for 17 of the last 18 years, and in doing so have come to some immutable truths about the species.

1)  Senioritis is a universal pandemic and it is a terminal disease - concentrate and plan your lessons with the idea that you will lose all of them eventually, even your best students.

2)  There are only so many things you can compel a student to do.  As teachers, I believe we open doors, and students walk through them - or not.  Give these kids opportunities, and if they are determined to fail, they do not deserve your full attention.  Concentrate on the ones who are determined to succeed.

3)  Give yourself a break - you are one small segment of their day, and an involuntary one.  You already make your class interesting and engaging, you are not responsible for their intrinsic motivation.

4)  They are seniors.  Young adults.  Adults make choices and then live with them.  Make this your classroom atmosphere and expectation.

Not saying you should stop trying.  And yes, have zero tolerance with the ones who disrupt others from taking advantage of your opportunities.  Do all you can.  Let them do the rest, or fail to do so.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I guess we've all been here. When I've been in this situation, it usually involved boys who needed attention and who earned approval from each other with their antics. Sometimes they did not really understand how to do the assignment and covered it up by avoiding the work. Sometimes they were just playing the role they had played all through school, for whatever reason.

I would call them in, one at a time, for a private conference, just a talk. How're you doing? What's going on with you? What's happening in your life?I tried to establish some kind of bond with each boy. Sometimes this personal attention worked wonders. It's hard for a student to cause problems or disappoint someone who they believe really cares about him as an individual.

Also, no matter how busy I was, I always stood at my door or in the hall and greeted my students individually as they came into class. Just a few words, but words directed personally to each one. At first they thought it was goofy, but one day I didn't do it, and boy did I have complaints! They loved the personal attention. They needed it.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with two points in particular which have already been made.  One, that their careless approach to education and classwork should not hinder those who want to learn, and two, that it's all about relationship.  I assume you've tried engaging them in discussion or other classwork as you can.  When they have nothing to offer, I ignore them.  They want the attention in my smaller classes (15 students max), so it generally dawns on them that if they want to participate they have to do something--which is, of course, better than nothing.  I also find that attending a hockey game or their basketball games or getting them involved in the play (which I direct and which also ensures they stay eligible) are great relationship-builders.  They'll do a lot for someone who cares about more than what they wrote on their paper today in class.  Above all, they value consistency and fairness.  Do those things, and they'll come around if they're capable of it.  Good luck and have a great year!

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even my 4 year old understands that negative attention is still attention, and that is probably what these guys want -- the attention of you and of the class.  I am a big believer in ignoring them and then shaming them.  Don't assume the worst here!  Unless it is clearly interuptive to others I just make sure they know I see them not doing what I have asked.  When it is time to share their work through discussion or question/answer sessions, I will not let them off the hook with "I didn't get that far" or "I didn't understand that part."  I, sweet as pie, walk them to the right answer -- but the whole class, and they, know that they screwed up.  It usually works to keep them accountable for the activities I expect done during class.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It sounds as if you, sadly, have a group of boys who either have no plans to continue their education beyond high school, and/or who have parents who have not brought them up in a proper manner. Luckily, most of the seniors I have taught recently showed more maturity and self-respect than your present group. However, there are still some seniors who are merely killing time until their high school years are over. Here in Florida, dropouts are not allowed to possess a driver's license until they are 18; this law keeps many kids in school who would otherwise have taken their antics out of the classroom.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this situation, I would try to find aspects of the curriculum that appeal to the boys.  Find something they take serisouly, and they will begin to act seriously.  They might enjoy the bloodier stories in the anthology.  They might also prefer stories about sports.  Whatever it is, find it and use it!

arrellbelle | Student

When I was in my final year of high school, there was a rowdy bunch in my class and of course, it was to be expected, it was our final year after all. Everyone begins to take it slowly and everyone becomes more care free. I guess what my teachers did to calm us all down was just promise to give us free time after we were given work. Being in the International Baccalaureate Program guaranteed us no free time; however, if a teacher promised to take us outside in the courtyard, students would take the class more seriously.

cressie14 | Student

Get some humour in you! Telling them off all the time will just make them think your moany. Have a laugh with them at the start of the lesson, then get on with it. If they start again, just tell them politely to quiten down. One lesson, show them what happens if you mess around in lesson- Tell them what grades they need to achieve for the job they want. If it comes to it, just send them all ooutside, if they want to muck around, let them. At the end of the day, it's their lives.

madmathshoes | Student

Todays seniors are a true reflection of a generation of parents unlike any others. They are " enablers" that will run interference for their children to the point that the child runs the family. The student then resents having that power taken away in school becuase one call to mom or dad and they come running to the school complaining about unfair treatment. When students in the eighties such as myself did something wrong in school we knew we would be in worse trouble with our parents once we got home. Now the inmates run the asylum to the point where the teacher is always wrong, the school is always at fault and the student is never to blame. Its a dangerous slippery slope.

trotterteach | Student
Immature Grade 12 Students

So, this year, I am "blessed" with a group of Grade 12 students which feature a number of boys (I hesitate to call them young men) who display behaviour I would expect to see from my Grade 3 son. They spend as much of the class as possible wasting time, joking with each other and doing anything except getting down to work. I am getting really tired of coming down on them hard ALL the time, especially as the rest of the class really want to work and are good students. Anybody had the privilege of teaching a similar class of seniors? And any sure fire ways of getting them to grow up?!

  Yes, I know exactly what you mean.  I have a group of 20 seniors that are driving me crazy.  My younger students are definitely more mature than these seniors.  As far as what I do?  I try to keep them as busy as possible and make them accountable for their grades.  We are just ending our first 9 weeks and when some of them see their grades, I am hoping they will realize they need to get busy. 

breedkm | Student

I have this class at the end of the day and believe it or not, the ringleader is a girl. I've called all of the parents I can reach and I'm reeling them in one at a time. I've also had to relax my standards. The book is very difficult for some to read and that's what brought me to e-notes. I'm searching for something to "anchor" the lessons. Tomorrow the last student acting out is getting a detention. At our school, administration handles them and will be aware.

I do greet my students at the door as much as I can. With my new warm-up sheets [downloaded today] and the detention, I am expecting to see an improvement tomorrow.

xzilr8ed | Student

We're still highschool, wat do u rly xpect from us? Just suck it up, u rly cant stop it, I am immature when i feel like it. It makes class berable, so you can either suck it up or make class funniner and funner.

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