Today I was in a third-grade class. They were studying Native American peoples. Out of nowhere, one kid asked me if Indians ate BLT sandwiches. I said they couldn't, because they didn't have lettuce. Or bread.
We got into a rather lengthy discussion about what they could eat instead. My favorite suggestion was the BFT, the Bacon, Fish and Tomato sandwich. Opinion was split as to whether that would be disgusting or interesting to try. The whole discursion was a big digression that ended, rather predictably, far from the original topic (who liked sushi and who didn't), but hey, anything to avoid real work, right? Kids after my own heart.
I liked being with these third graders. It's a much more different atmosphere than the pre-K. I take a very relaxed, smiling approach to discipline with the older kids. I'll approach a "problem" kid slowly and coolly, hands in pockets, and say in a soft, cheerful and confident voice something like, "Do you think you can do your work and sit here, or should you move?" After they gawp at me a few moments, I go on, "I honestly want to know the answer to that. What do you think?" This tells them that (a) I'm serious and (b) I respect them enough to give them the power to control what happens after that. Gentle reminders and the expectation of self-control, mixed with a pleasant, even goofy, demeanor: that's how I play it.
Also, I told one kid who was acting up --- again, same smile, gentle tone, and kind but serious expression --- "You must have mistaken me for someone who's going to let you do whatever you want." (It's a line rephrased from "The Wire.") That clammed him up real good.
Let you think it was all redirecting and discipline (as if the BFT story wasn't enough to disprove that), we had fun playing with a Rubik's Cube and making silly signatures on the dry-erase board at the end of class.