What are they thinking?

What are students thinking when they 'comply' with classroom norms and rules?

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A presentation.  About high school.  Clearly, it is content that relates to all of them.  Students are at varying levels of paying attention; head down from being nervous bored or tired?  Eating and drinking from boredom, or hunger?  One student waves wildly at a student outside the room.  Most students are silent, listening to the presenter, who speaks their language, is down to earth, not too showy.   What motivates them to quietly listen?  Students are munching on apples, reading books.  One plays mindlessly with a deck of uno cards.  When it is reading time, why do they all comply?  What is it about their teacher that makes them listen to his thoughts, even when he rambles?  When he says "everyone should have a reading book.  I do."  what are they thinking?  Do they see this as condescending?  Do they think he is right?  Are they looking to adults for cues and advice?  Every once in a while two students share thoughts with each other quietly across the table.  The want peer interaction, then go back to silence.  One student lets another use their bathroom pass.  Thank you.  Back to reading.  Something funny happens but the back half of the room misses it - someone fills them in on the joke.  One student gets up without permission but is going back to her assigned seat, no big deal.  Pushing the envelope.  Students seem comfortable with the classroom norms here, judging by the fact that they are mostly following them.  Compliant.  Why?

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or research.

I noticed that students crave interactions with peers, and yet they do not do this most of the day. I wonder what motivates students to "do well" in school, comply with norms? Do they like school? Is it what they want?


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