After this miserable term full of troublesome students, I finally kicked someone out of my classroom tonight. I felt some remorse, and he wasn't kicked out for good, just until tomorrow, but it felt good, like I'd finally gotten the attention of this most garrulous and lackadaisical group of students.
I'd listened to this young man kvetch and whine all evening about how he couldn't do this and I needed to do that for him, and he wasn't really interested in being there and it was my fault he wasn't understanding anything. (His English is actually better than that of many of his fellow students and he's quite bright) I tried to explain things to him but he would just talk over me, making wisecracks in Spanish. And then....his phone rang. One of my cardinal rules is that all cell phones need to be turned off in the classroom and nothing sets me off like the little warble of a phone. He actually got up to take the call in the hallway and I asked him to turn the phone off and get to work. I told him that he might as well take his books because if he left the room to take the call, he wouldn't be coming back. He opted to leave.
All the other students stared at the door with wonder and they were very well behaved the rest of the evening. None was more shocked than my number one troublemaker who looked almost hurt that I would send someone else home instead of him.
I always think that if I give these kids one more chance and explain the expectations again that they'll magically straighten up, be quiet, and focus on learning English. And many of them, thankfully, do just that. But there are a few who, given an inch, will take the proverbial mile. This term I seemed to have a super sized portion of those kids. Had I sent someone home weeks ago I wonder if this term would have been such struggle.