Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend: Getting It Together

After my last post, I got down to business about figuring out what to do with my disruptive students. The fact of the matter is that last year if I gave my students a talking-to, they listened for the rest of the class period. This class was quiet for all of ten minutes. So, I worked out a plan that evolved from a Harry Wong idea into something that would work in my classroom--involving "yellow cards" as warnings and a clear chain of consequence from one disruption to the next.

I refuse to yell "quiet" every five minutes.

However, there is also the issue of getting kids to shut up during Channel One and during announcements. That I am not so much sure about.

I was discussing my troubles with a good friend who is a fourth year teacher. We are very different in our personalities and teaching styles, but we often have the same frustrations (as I suppose most teachers do). We both discussed that, really, the first year teaching a new class is all about getting it together. It's about figuring it all out, the details and the nuance, and when you throw a new school into the mix--you're treading water for most of the first year. The first year you figure it all out, she said. The second year, you teach.

And I agree. I just can't foresee myself being an excellent teacher this year. Not that I'll be terrible, just that really I'll be getting it together and that's a huge and overwhelming task. I'll look back on this year and wish I had done 9 million things differently, but I will have learned from each and apply it to next year.

I've come to the conclusion, that in order to survive this year-- I need to have my sights set on next year. I need to remind myself that all this work will pay off, all this confusion and treading water and struggle will reward itself with a better run classroom and a better idea of teaching next year. This is a hard thing for me to do because I have never stayed at one job for more than a year. It seems unnatural to know I will be in the same place next year.

But that will be my saving grace: a place to return to and improve upon myself.

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