Creative Craziness

I teach a lot of 9th graders this trimester. We offer a class called probability and statistics 9 and it is open to 9th grade students who also will have had the quadratic portion of algebra 1 this year. I really enjoy this class for multiple reasons. First, it lends itself very well to applying math to real-world scenarios.  Secondly, the hands-on opportunities are endless.
One of the issues I have been committed to improving with my own professional demeanor is the way I deal with 9th grade boys. Nothing brings out my sarcastic, short-tempered, disagreeable side like the antics of freshman boys. There’s something about the decision to play soccer with a recycling bin that just invokes the my inpatient side. Regardless, I need to develop more patience with this demographic. Boys are unique, both in the way that they act and the way that they perceive acceptable behavior. I’m not talking about “I’m bored” acting out. I’m talking about the “I really need to see if this eraser will fit in this kids ear” kind of acting out. I think that my short fuse has more to do with my failure on my part to  fully understand them rather than gross misbehavior on their part. What I’m really trying to grasp here is not “why can’t these kids sit still?” But more “when they can’t sit still, what makes them want to kick a recycle bin around the room or toss magnets at the learning target?” I think if I had a better understanding of what drives those behaviors, I could deal with them more productively. Suggestions?


  1. It’s like a drive to physical activity that increases with frustration level. I think there’s a little fight or flight in there, too. So if it’s borderline agressive (the bin soccer definitely is) – that’s a bonus.

  2. I am a father of twin 9th grade boys. Not only is it difficult for them to sit still, but they do their best work when moving. In fact, the motion part of a boys brain lights up when they are doing their best thinking. I remember reading to them when they were 5 years old and when they were really into the book they would literally be upside down sitting on their head on the couch. I would yell at them thinking they were not paying attention, but that is when they were paying attention the most. Just last week, my son wanted help studying for his spanish test, but he wanted to do it while kicking the soccer ball in the basement. We studied for 30 minutes and he didn’t complain once (kick the ball and conjugate an irregular verb). I personally still hate sitting in a seat for more than 20 minutes so I understand my sons’ antziness. As far as the eraser in the ear thing, teenage boys can do very dumb things, especially when they are bored and they get bored easily. I have found that I have to be their frontal lobe until it gets fully developed and I have to keep them very busy.
    There is a great book called the Male Brain (and yes it is more than two pages long 😉 by Louanne Brizendine a Harvard nueropsychiatrist (and mother of a boy) that gives great insight into boys (and men) and how their brain structure affects what and why they do things. One interesting point from that book that I remember is that teenage boys have so many hormones in their brain from puberty that their brain is literally “numb”. That is why they like the slasher movies and loud rock music/hip hop. It is the only thing that can get through the numbness.

  3. Pingback: 10 Quick Reflections on a Challenging Year | Number Loving Beagle

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