'In the Dark with Pencils Flying'
Classroom Management in the planetarium
by Ana Larson

Yes, pencils flying! Other behavior that has occurred in the planetarium while the lights are off: continuous talking, laughter, shoving and hitting, flash cameras, luminous watches and shoes, eating and drinking, wise cracks, withholding of laser pointer, turning upside down on the couch, and more... Is this the rule? Fortunately, no, this kind of behavior is the exception. However, will you be prepared to handle these behavior problems should they arise? This is especially important if you find that the adults in the crowd are waiting for you to do something about these problems!

Here are some pointers to help you head off and/or handle these problems. But always, ALWAYS feel free to ask the adult in charge of the group to maintain control (speak to them before the show begins). They often have avenues of discipline that are not available to you.

  1. Have a warm-up
  2. Feel free to move about the planetarium
  3. Change the seating arrangement
  4. Get frequent feedback
  5. Phrase your response to negative behavior in the first person Sometimes the best response requires no words at all. Simply stop talking, and slowly bring up the lights. The students will discipline their peers. Once all the displace talking has stopped, slowly turn the lights back down, and resume where you left off.
  6. Mix up dark and light
  7. Expect good behavior and reward it.
  8. Accept the participation of those who don't want to participate