Posted by: jockmackenzie | September 29, 2009

Classroom Discipline 1 – Mackenzie Baseball

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The bottom line, in any class I have ever taught, from the brightest and best to the most challenging, is . . . well, that there needs to be a bottom line. I have tried to avoid using “disciplinary techniques” but to no avail. Sooner or later, someone pushes too hard. And when they do, I haul out my version of baseball – Mackenzie Baseball.

Mackenzie Baseball is one of several techniques in my disciplinary toolbox. It’s simple and works like this:

Step One – Early in the school year, after several students have stepped over the line (that line of mutual respect, of being responsible for oneself and to others) and when it seems obvious to me that the feeling tone in the room is not the warm, happy one enjoyed by all, I give an exaggerated sigh, step to front and center, and offer an explanation something like this: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t want to do this but a variety of incidents have left me no choice. We have discussed how we need to act with and toward one another but it’s not working the way it should. I’m afraid I’m going to have to explain a concept I call Mackenzie Baseball. (long pause, stern look around the room) It’s like regular baseball – but in regular baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. In Mackenzie Baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re in. (long pause, look around the room but with a bit of a smile)

Invariably, someone asks, “In what?”

I explain the “in” could mean any variety of things – to begin with “in trouble” and further that might mean “in” my bad books, “in” right after class, “in” at lunch or after school. It all depends on the severity of the three reasons for getting the strikes.

Step Two: Most often, having stopped the class and explained that there is a “bottom line” and that students are accountable, life becomes rosy once again.

Step Three: Sooner or later, the honeymoon ends. Someone steps over the line. Before getting Strike One, I employ the “Teacher Look” and the “Proximity to the Offender” and the “Stop, Smile, Shrug My Shoulders In Disbelief” tactics, but eventually, Strike One is required.

Step Four: I put the initials of the offender at the side of the whiteboard and make strong eye contact to ensure the guilty party knows what has happened. For many students, Strike One is enough. Strike Two may have to follow. 90% of the time, being on the verge of “in trouble” is enough. But not always.

Step Five: Some students do get to Strike Three. This is the critical moment. I learned the hard way (the way I learned most things) that I had to follow through with some kind of consequence after getting to Strike Three. What to do depended entirely on the series of events that led to the final strike. Many factors come into play at this point – my mood, the student’s mood, the student’s history/relationship with me, what will be most effective, considerations regarding our future relationship, etc. In general terms, my consequences were given privately (in a one-on-one conversation with the student either in the hallway or after class), at a time when my emotions allowed me to dispense the consequence in a fair and reasonable manner (when I first started teaching I was often vibrating with anger and was totally useless as far as determining any logical course of recourse), with a show of the respect the student had not shown either to me or to his/her classmates, and finally, suitable to situation. (no swatting mosquitoes with a sledge hammer.)

Final point: The most effective consequence was always “time” – time away from peers, time not being able to enjoy the privileges others were free to enjoy.

As I said earlier, Mackenzie Baseball is only one of the techniques in my toolbox – but it was a well-used tool. Merely the knowledge that the tool existed was a key factor.

More trips to the toolbox will follow . . . stay tuned.


Responses

  1. I am always looking for new classroom management systems. I am teaching fifth grade this year and will try this one. Love your ideas. Still reading through everything!


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