About Alice Trosclair

Alice has been teaching for eleven years. She currently teaches English III, English Language and Composition AP, and English Literature and Composition AP. She lives with her husband and son in south Louisiana. She also has hundreds of "adopted" children.

We all struggle with classroom management at some point in our careers. Some years are better than others for me. These are common problems I have gone through and these are the comebacks I use that seem to work for me. I cannot promise they will work every time, but I can promise that if you are consistent, fair, and treat your students the way you wish to be treated your school year will go much smoother. Here are the battles I have faced and my attempted solutions:

I’m here. Teach me. –  There are students that walk into your classroom with absolutely nothing. No book, no paper, and no writing utensil. It is extremely frustrating and some days I just want to scream, but I simply smile, point to my desk and tell them to get a pen and some paper. I have stacks of paper and lots of pencils and pens, it is a battle I am not going to fight. My first year teaching I fought it and all I got was a smirk and extra paperwork from writing up students that were not prepared for class. I gave up. Since then I buy tons of pens and pencils and stack up on the loose leaf at Walmart every year. The kids know where it is in my classroom and don’t bother asking for it, they just go and pick it up. It is part of my classroom culture because they know they will not be allowed to sit and do nothing. They will take notes and they will participate and eventually they stop fighting it because it is a battle they will not win.

When are we ever going to use this? –  I have students that ask me every day, “What is the point of this?” I tell them, “The chances of someone coming up to you and asking you to identify the simile in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 are slim, but the chances of you falling in love are pretty high, don’t you want to know that there are other people that have experienced what you have gone through?” My favorite response, “Ugh, not really.” I say, “Well, I am preparing you for the real world and guess what, you will have to do things you will not necessarily like and you need to look at me like I am your boss and your “paycheck” is your grades and if you want a job reference or a recommendation letter from me, I promise you will do what I ask you do to do.” I usually get an eye roll, but then they work.

This is hard. I quit. – I reply, “Life is full of things we don’t get on the first try. Learning to work through life’s difficulties is an important skill. If you quit just because you don’t want to analyze The Great Gatsby, what does that say about you when you are struggling to understand why your partner is unhappy or why your child cries? Are you just going to give up? If you give up while you have people that care about you and want to help, what are you going to when life really gets difficult and you have to do it all alone? Let’s tackle this together.”

This is boring, can’t we do something fun. – “It really hurts my feelings when you say my class is boring. I put my heart and soul into my class every day and I love my job. How would you feel if I went to your football game or watched you cheer and I said what you loved is lame or stupid? We won’t love everything each other likes, but we need to respect our differences because it takes all different types of people and personalities to make our world spin. You won’t have to like my class, but you will respect it like I respect you.”

You don’t like me. –  (Because all problems stem from us not liking them. Haha!) “Of course, I like you. I dislike your behavior. I wish you would not put me in the position you have, but we are here now. If you would have stopped when I asked you to, this would not have happened. Now accept your consequences and tomorrow we will try again. Fresh start?” Then shake hands.

I can’t work with a group or with him. –  Unless there is a serious personality conflict, I never give in to this request. I say, “I am teaching you to work with a variety of personalities. Sometimes we work with people we do not necessarily understand, but in order to achieve the product we have to find a way to make it work. Yes, I know you could do it by yourself, but I think working together will help you discover things about yourself and other people.” I always keep a rubric handy and let them ‘grade’ their partners. I am consistently walking around and checking to make sure that one person isn’t doing all the work.

My tips are not foolproof, but I hope they give you some ideas. – I am always trying to find things to add to my classroom toolbox, especially when it comes to classroom management. Children are becoming more and more difficult to teach and we have to stick together using the universal teaching code- beg, borrow, and steal. We must conquer the battle of classroom management because our students cannot learn in chaos and our war is to educate them, even if they try to hinder us in every way possible.

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