John Paquay wrote, on Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:51:58 -0400:
She's brand new to teaching, but, it turns out that classroom management
is a standard problem in these multi-ethnic San Jose schools.
One teacher uses a bathroom plunger, as his bathroom pass.
What it (attempts to) accomplish is the reduce undue interruptions of
the classroom environment.
We all know that the kids can go to the bathroom plenty of other times,
but, all kids will take advantage of a "free pass" out of jail, if
even for only 10 minutes (which they can synchronize with other friends,
if they're clever).
What the pass does, first and foremost, is it discourages such intents.
Also, it allows the teacher to continue teaching, uninterrupted, as
the students just get up, grab the pass, and return, unannounced.
It also is very clear to everyone, what the purpose of the kid is,
whether grabbing the pass or walking the hallways. It's also not
something they can leave hidden in the hallway while they surreptitiously
run a'muck about the hallways or outdoors to catch a smoke or whatever.
Likewise, it prevents multiple kids (from the same classroom anyway)
leaving the room at any one time.
Furthermore, it's obvious to all whether the bathroom pass is in use or
not. It's like the red sign on an airplane bathroom door showing it's in
use, rather than what we have to do at a McDonalds, which is to jiggle
the doorknob repeatedly to find out if someone is in there.
And, being so large (on purpose), the kids, who almost certainly don't
like it, can't lose it easily.
At the very least, it's objectionable to carry (as you noted), which
would further discourage the unnecessary potty breaks.
Rest assured, this teacher has at least one kid a day out of her 200,
walk out on the class without excuse. She has kids banging on the table,
and calling her a b*ch, and plenty of disciplinary problems, all of which
are common through all the classes, as she told me most of these kids are
being weeded out of the system through their behavior in *all* their
I also find this behavior strange, as *my* kids have always had comments
on their report cards of "very polite", "always helpful", "pitches in to
volunteer every time I ask", and even once "raises hand to answer
questions too often!".
Heh heh ... the apple doesn't fall far from the tree ...
I think this teacher, who is brand new, is learning on the job. In
California, they go through 3 semesters of graduate training, to obtain a
preliminary teaching certificate, two semesters of which have on-the-job
training of sorts.
Then, they're thrown to the wolves for 2 more years, until they get their
preliminary teaching certificate cleared. At that point, they also get
tenure (which is kind'a soon, if you ask me), and then they're bona-fide
The clearance process, apparently, starts with three weeks of training on
"classroom management", which I found odd when I saw that it's the
*first* thing they re-train the preliminary-credentialed teachers on.
Out of 200 kids that she has, she estimated, to me, that about 10% are
the ones using the bathroom pass constantly. The rest sit and listen.
You have to remember these are Algebra classes, where probably only a
small percentage of the kids (maybe 1/3?) actually care to learn it. It's
a required class for the rest, which they hope to never see again during
the rest of their lives.
When is the last time you or I graphed a quadratic equation, for example?
Could each of us solve a binomial equation to save our lives?
(Building suspension bridges in the redwoods notwithstanding... :)
Here's a nice problem (an example of a "Galton-Watson" process).
Start with 1 thing "alive" at generation 0.
Assume it has a 25% chance of dying, a 50% chance of living, and a 25%
chance of doubling after each generation.
Assume this is true of all such "things". What is the probability that
there will be exactly 1 thing alive after 2 generations?
I believe that a great solution technique to problems like this has been
(re-)discovered numerous times.
Hint: If the question is changed to What is the probability that there
will be exactly k things alive after n generations?
The answer is the same as the value of the coefficient on x^k of the
function f(x)=(1/4 + 1/2 x + 1/4 x^2) composed with itself n times.
That this is true I find pretty darn amazing. And it follows from the
Binomial formula, which you brought up.
The books I've seen leave the reader to figure that out for themselves,
so I won't take the fun out of it.
Suggestion: Start with a "probability tree".
You can probably see how to use this idea to help estimate the
distribution of the population of trees n years from now, if you plant a
new one today.
Of course, there are "overcrowding" issues, but you may be okay for
small values of n. So it is on topic. ; )
Any answers for the question given? I've been working on a related one
all afternoon so it is fresh in my mind.
I'd take a different approach... As a complete unmolested lettered board it
is a bathroom pass. If altered it is not a bathroom pass and subjects the
student carrying it to the same penalties as any other "no pass" or "altered
pass" infraction. This would require the cooperation of the teachers and
administration who monitor student movement in the hallways... It may
require a few repair jobs in the beginning but I suspect that it would not
take long for the kids to figure this out. Maybe have two or three board
passes initially so there is always a good one available for the kids who
really need to go, or who have to deal with their monthly issues.
You can spank children and not beat them. If you had ever had children
you would know that sometime a pop on the bottom is the only way to get
their attention. Discipline must be consistently applied, and ALL
people in a position to give discipline, must work to basically the same
standard. ie per Theodore_Roosevelt "Speak softly and carry a big stick"
Though children quickly understand that grandpa has slightly different
standards of performance than dad. The same applies in all situations
the child is place. They are intelligent creature, understand the
environment, and what is permissibly in that environment. Otherwise,
you would not get the Alien Abduction Syndrome when you let your kids go
with someone else. (Alien Abduction Syndrome: The child who has been a
terror all afternoon, but later when when a friend's mom returns him,
she tells what a perfect child you have)
The problem comes about when you have a parent that thinks the the
teacher, the police, and every one else in the world are out to get
them. So they think that whenever anything happens to THEIR child,
someone is discriminating against or picking on THEIR child.
CA is noted for the liberal left leaning culture.
Very possible the entire school system is run on
self esteem, and fragile feelings, instead of old
fashioned tried and true.
Christopher A. Young
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