One-Finger Discipline

The other day, we had a little scare at the junior high. Someone saw a tall young man enter a our school carrying a gun. It turns out it was a prop for a high-school play, but the scare was serious enough that we had to go into full lockdown.

I had a hint of this driving along the little stretch of freeway from my house to the school. Three police cars were zooming full-speed, lights flashing, sirens wailing. I wondered if they’d end up at the junior high and they did.

Everyone was sent to the gym, where there are bleachers on one side of the floor, high above the floor. When I arrived, the faculty was pretty much down on the floor and all the kids were up in the bleachers.

They were handling things pretty well, but there’s always one, and that one was pushing and shoving with another one. That one was also one of mine, so he knows me well. I caught his eye and put up one finger. He stopped in his tracks and pointed his friend’s eyes in my direction too.

I just waggled my finger infinitesimally,keeping eye contact.  

They stopped pushing and sat still, for quite a long time.

My friend and colleague, Jeff, said, “Well, that’s power! It’s like casting a spell on someone.”

Gotta agree. Sure makes discipline easier, doesn’t it, a little spell-casting?

It goes to my credo on discipline: the less, the better; in this case, one finger.


2 thoughts on “One-Finger Discipline

  1. Great teacher, like yourself, know all the best secrets! I have been able to discipline from across a large room with a simple lift of the eyebrows or pursing of the lips. The problem is that new teachers don’t have their “rep” established, and they can look or waggle a finger all they want — to no avail. How do we get these younger teachers to understand that classroom management begins with self-mamangement and consistency?!

    Loved the post 😉

  2. Well, you are 100% right about that, self-management and consistency. There is a certain feeling, including reserve, dignity, veiled power, that makes this all work. I think that consistency is a big part of it too because the students KNOW you will follow through. It’s a done deal :). Thanks for the good comment.

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