Crowd Control 1

Controlling a class of 60 third graders who speak another language is very similar to controlling an angry mob. Thai teachers have an advantage. Commanding the students in Thai is infinitely easier than commanding them in English, for obvious reasons, and if that fails they will pull out the ruler or bamboo cane. I have one teacher who walks around the room singing, "bamboo rod is heeere, bamboo rod is heeere, wiiilll hit yooou, wiiilll hit yooou!" Usually a slap on the hand or a quick lash across the bum is sufficient, occasionally some open hand slaps on the back are administered. These physical attacks are more emotionally abusing than anything else, you can see in the students eyes that they are embarassed, not injured.

So what is the western teacher to do? I won't hit them and I cannot speak Thai. The Answer is CROWD CONTROL.

The first few moments in class are the most important. When the class sees that the white guy is in control, they will act absolutely crazy. Students will crowd around you asking for high fives, petting your foreign arm hair, and trying to show you their latest drawings. In the back there are boys dancing on desks and fighting and yelling. If you stand there yelling in English, it will have no effect. This is how you control the mob.

1. Tell the boys to sit down one or two times. Some will sit. Bring one boy (preferably the class leader) and tell him to write the number of each boy who is behaving poorly on the board for everyone to see under the title "BAD". Stand there at the front, silently, unsmiling, and point at boys whose number you want on the board. The key to crowd control is exposure. If you talk, everyone in the room will see your number next to the word "BAD" and that is embarrassing, regardless if there will be any tangible punishment.

2. If simple exposure doesn't keep the boys in check, I quantify their embarrassment. Next to boys that continue to talk or misbehave I write how many points they will lose that day. These are fictional points, never recorded, like a placebo. Responsible students will be silenced instantly, not wanting their grade to suffer and their parents to be disappointed. The bad seeds will become quieter with the rest of the mob. Still that might not be enough.

3. If there is still a student misbehaving (there may be 5 still talking in a class of sixty). You call their numbers and make them stand on their chairs. This is further exposure, standing above the rest of the students. A standing student who misbehaves will be scolded. I will ask questions about the reading assignments to the students who are standing, they won't be able to answer them and they will be further humiliated. Notice; I still have not raised my voice, spoke Thai, or hit the children.

4. If a boy still misbehaves, and they often do, I silence the whole class by isolating one student and humiliating them publicly. Never choose the worst boy, he is A.D.D., he won't understand the punishment and the other students don't care if he is the center of attention, that isn't unusual. Instead select the boy who is next to the worst boy. We are going to punish him for supporting the child who is the biggest problem. Call his number and bring him to the front of the room. The class sits silently waiting to see what you will do. Write his number on the board bigger than the other numbers. Then you scold him. Ask why is he talking during class. Ask if he wants to stay in the room or go home. Ask if he understands. He will be scared and will not talk again during class. Sit him on the floor in the corner of the room where everyone can see him.

5. After the mayhem has settled, explain the rules. Talking results in points off, then standing on your chair, then sitting in the hall. They will behave, if there is any further insubordination, stop class and put out the fire immediately. In crowd control, you have to run a tight ship.

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