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Field Notes 6- 3/6/13. What makes a bad apple?

mschoyer's picture


  • How is the notion of some students as "bad apples" (from chapter 6 of Whatever It Takes) resonant -- or not -- in your field setting?  Who gets categorized in this way, and by whom? what are the "criteria" for this kind of label, or to put it another way, what are students labeled this way like? how they treated?
  • If this "bad apples" idea is NOT relevant to your setting, consider why not -- and what that might suggest about what's happening there.

This question is very interesting to think about in regards to my field placement. At both the Elementary Schools I am placed at, I am in a small pull-out class with anywhere from 1 to 10 students. These students come from many different backgrounds and cultures, and they also speak different languages. Until receiving this prompt, I never thought about “Bad Apples.” In my classes, each of the students is pretty well behaved. To me, a bad apple is a student who acts out often. He or she is identifiable by the rest of the students and the teacher- all would agree that the student has behavioral problems. At my placement, however, this is not the case.

     Why doesn’t my placement have a bad apple, or even more than one bad apple? Small class size might have something to do with it. Often times, and in my experience, students act out to get attention. In a class that is small and sometimes has more than one teacher (when I’m there), each student gets more attention than they do in their normal classroom.

     Another way that a student can become a bad apple can come from the way that a teacher and students react to bad behavior. When a student acts out in my placement, my teacher deals with it immediately. She doesn’t make a huge scene, but says something to the student and it usually works. If a teacher lets bad behavior continue, they will eventually have to deal with it more drastically. Also, other students recognize the issue and begin to pick out the student as “bad.” By immediately dealing with behavior issues, this can be avoided, and my classroom teacher does a good job at doing so. I also mentioned how students can single out another student and make them a bad apple. Because each of my students is in ELL class, and most are immigrants, they relate to one another. They seem to be more understanding of each other. If one student is misbehaving because they are either frustrated or struggling with the subject matter, the other students understand. Because of this, they are less likely to single out a peer and make them feel bad about their behavior.

     My placement might also not have bad apples because of the time allotted to the class. Each small class is in ELL for just 30-40 minutes a day, so there really isn’t time for them to get restless and misbehave. I would be interested to see how these students act in their normal classes- Are all of them as well behaved as they are when I see them? How does the circumstance play into this?