Desperate for help
Date: November 2, 2015
I'm a 2nd year teacher and currently teach 9-12 high school chorus at two part-time locations (one general/combined chorus at each school) at programs that are historically been dominated by band. I have 50+ students at each school (106 in total), out of which at each school about 15 signed up for the course because they wanted to sing, and literally the other 30+ of the class is placed in as a "dumping ground" because they had class conflicts, are upperclassmen that need the elective credit/GPA bump, or honestly don't care about being in school. We just finished our first 9 weeks and I had 12 students fail due to their grade or our county attendance policy which is extremely ridiculous for an elective class based off of participation.
It is quite frustrating to myself and the rest of the class when we spend 75%+ of the class with classroom management/sending students out/having to quiet the class/etc. I've had multiple instances where we have to call the campus resources officer due to drugs/fights/etc. The 30+ majority doesn't seem worried when they get 0s on daily participation, fail notebook checks, don't turn in simple assignments, etc. And when I send students to time-out/ISS they might be gone for a day or two, then always return and are resentful towards me. My administration gives me idealistic ideas and say I need to "get the class working" but do not provide me with concrete suggestions. I'm worried about job security and personal image, as the administration also seems to be putting 90% of the faults on me, and is quick to point fingers when they come in to view or listen in to one of my classes.
What do I do when a chorus class is filled with more drama than actual singing? I've tried the method of waiting for them to be quiet (they seem to have little concern about being rude), I admit I've gotten upset multiple times and had to raise my voice, gone over the classroom policies again, and everything I can think of. We've done personal and small sectional singing tests, with little to no positive results.
I can tell some students want the chorus to be recognized as an actual ensemble and not a joke, but the vast majority is just apathetic or downright rude. I want to have a concert but I'm afraid how the community/parents/administration will receive it, and have been told in the past nearly half the kids don't show up for the concert date. It's frustrating because I had some students audition and go to All-County Chorus, and the look of astonishment in their eyes when we had 150+ people attentative and singing in unison was a great feeling. I hate to admit it but it's slowly wearing me down and I feel like I'm losing the battle, and we still have 27 weeks of school left.