Teachers learn pupil management Beginning instructors at primary schools attend orientation

Stereotypes are acted out

Familiar characters such as Patti Perfect taken from real life

August 11, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Harry Hyper is rocking back and forth in his chair and throwing paper airplanes.

Tilly Tattletale is making a note of that, and of everyone else's transgressions in the mock classroom scene acted out by a group of Carroll County assistant principals.

"Nancy made a face at me, and I don't think anyone's doing their work," says Tilly, who is really Anna Varakin, assistant principal at Piney Ridge Elementary.

The children will arrive Aug. 26, and the new crop of 39 beginning elementary school teachers is gearing up with a six-day orientation that started Friday and continues this week.

The out-of-control scene is the opening of a seminar on classroom management. Eight years ago, the assistant principals were charged with conducting such a seminar and decided it would be fun to start with a skit in which they acted out stereotypes of children.

The names Andy Ache and Patti Perfect are made up, but the characters come from real life, said Jim Bullock, assistant principal at Runnymede Elementary School north of Westminster. He plays Billy Brownie, who arrives with an apple for the teacher and keeps a stapler and dictionary on his organized desktop.

At the head of the class is Ms. Rookie, played by Linda Busher, who got stuck with the role of the embattled, ineffective teacher because she is the newest assistant principal.

"I remember this skit when I started six years ago," she says. "I remember it was hysterical."

Ms. Rookie just can't get her class to behave. She doesn't even notice Nancy Obnoxious cheating on her spelling test.

Frieda Frustrated whines, "I just don't understand it!" and "What page are we on?" Ms. Rookie's reaction is no better. "Frieda! It's the third time."

The new teachers break into laughter when Andy Ache, a k a Joseph Dorsey of Mount Airy Elementary, raises his hand amid the chaos to say, "My head -- hurts."

But the teachers have to watch and listen closely. After the skit, they are divided into groups to analyze each child's behavior and the teacher's response.

"I've substituted in classrooms like that," says Margie Schroeder, who begins work at Carrolltowne Elementary School this month.

Her group's job is to analyze Billy Brownie's behavior and how the teacher could have worked better with him. "You want your entire class to be Billy," says Cathy Standeart, another new teacher. Her suggestion is to pair him with another student.

"We just finished a graduate class in behavior," says Schroeder, as she and Standeart and colleague Michelle White analyze Billy. "We're good at this."

Within 15 minutes, the group has filled the large sheets of paper listing Billy's good points and how an instructor could nurture his desire to excel.

"Didn't match curriculum to his needs," they write. "Teacher needs to plan enrichment and give material for independent work."

For Patti Perfect, the teacher suggests Ms. Rookie use her as a model more and pair her with someone like Sally Slow or Frieda Frustrated, so that Patti's organization skills could rub off on other children. To deal with Patti's tendency toward being bossy or judgmental, the teachers suggest a gentle one-on-one talk.

For Frieda Frustrated and Sally Slow, they suggest the teacher give clear directions and try to build their self-esteem with praise when they do good work.

For Nancy Obnoxious, who criticized the teacher and tried to commandeer the class, the teachers suggest she be allowed to lead a few discussions or groups.

The teachers tend to agree with Nancy Obnoxious, however, that Ms. Rookie is wasting time.

"She needed to get organized and have a system," Maureen Nutter observes. "Maybe working with more experienced teachers or seeking staff development."

And if that doesn't work, Nutter and the rest of her group decide, Ms. Rookie should "seek another profession."

Pub Date: 8/11/96

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