Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Awful Day

Today was not a good day at all.  I feel like I'm in crisis mode where if I don't get the class under control, we won't learn anything all year.  I have a wonderful coworker who took me to another school to introduce me to her mentor teacher and we talked for a while.  She even gave me some manipulatives to use with one particular student.  I'm so grateful to have her support, especially when there are some really fake teachers I work with who are waiting and hoping for me to fail.  That's been hard to face, but I'll let God take care of them.

So, what am I going to do tomorrow?  We're going to completely redesign the classroom.  I'll be moving my carpet to a new location so I can move my desks around.  We'll be facing a different board, and I'll be stripping down the class rules to make new ones.  I'm also getting rid of some levels on the behavior chart so the students have less chances and reach more severe consequences quicker.  Basically, I've been told that I have to be a drill sergeant.  It's gonna be a challenge for me but I'm going to do my best.  I'll keep building relationships, but the fun has to be sucked out of the room for now because my kids can't handle having fun.  It's hard to say that but everyone can see they're not ready for fun, and they're not ready for lots of choice. 

I was able to reward my students who are able to make strong choices with fun while those who made poor choices watched the others have fun.  I'm gonna keep working on that...it's just hard when I can only be in one place at one time. 

My head is spinning with so many ideas that are always shared, and I'm overwhelmed.  I feel like I keep changing something everyday, but my kids keep giving me reason to.  For every thing I come up with, they come up with a counter behavior for it.  Somehow someway I have to show them that I'm the boss and I run the show, not them.  *sigh* Let's see how tomorrow goes....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reflection 1

Just wanted to reflect on my day.  I tried something new where I mapped out the entire day so that I would know everything I wanted to do and in the right order.  I noticed that in my room there is a lot of down time for the kids to get into trouble because I'm not always prepared with what comes next, so I wanted to fix that this week.  It ended up being 4 pages long, just for Monday, but it helped me stay on task and on track.  We even managed to get through all of our subjects, from Morning Meeting to Writing to Reading to Second Step (violence prevention program) to Math to Specials to Science.  So I'm happy that we got through every lesson.  It didn't necessarily change the behavior issues I'm having, but there was more time on task than there was last week.

Another thing I did differently that helped end the day a bit more smoothly was do our class jobs and get ready for dismissal an hour before we actually dismiss.  Since school began, dismissal has been one of the worst parts of my day because it has been so hectic and chaotic, especially with so many parents picking up their kids early.  So today I had us dismiss (pack up our backpacks and whatnot) right after they came back from specials, and then we went into the science lesson and used that to finish the day.  It was much smoother, so I'm going to stick with it.

I also tried to end the day with a final closure where we shared something we learned, but many of the students were mentally checked out so it wasn't as powerful as I had hoped.  I will keep pondering over that.

Let's see...I also got rid of transition time, which was a 2-5 minute period where students could go to their locker or sharpen their pencils.  Most kids took it to mean free time and were just chilling and getting into trouble, so I decided to nix it.  Now I let students sharpen their pencils when they need to and just ask me before they go to their lockers.  It worked pretty well, though the kids were bummed to lose their "free time".

Tomorrow I'm going to talk to them about what types of behaviors will make them move their color (we use a color chart with clothespins).  My only concern is that so many students exhibit those behaviors so frequently throughout the day that it's hard to keep up with and sometimes I have to let certain things go.  I'm nervous that now that these behaviors are written explicitly on a chart they will start to notice that I can't always keep up.  For example, I can't always stop the lesson to tell someone who is talking to move their color because they are ALWAYS talking and I would never get through the lesson.  So I tend to highlight the super disruptive ones who actually interrupt me, but it still feels inconsistent.  I'm not really sure what to do with that.

Last thing, I'm often told that I always need to keep my voice level and not let the children see that they are getting to me.  I find this to be extremely difficult for me because I'm a super transparent person and most people can always read my emotions.  Even today, I got so frustrated that I told the class they were making me angry and I would have to start taking away their PE time if they kept it up.  I just don't know how to hide it...I'm an emotional person by nature and I get irritated by all the misbehaving.  Any advice?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Random Venting Session

I've been wanting to blog for a while and haven't set out time to do it.  I have a lot on my mind in regards to my classroom and what's going on, so I'm not sure what this post will look like in the end.

What I can say for sure right now is that I'm a first year classroom teacher who is in survival mode.  I remember reading about these different modes from the book "The First Days of School" by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, and survival mode definitely sounds like me.  I am really struggling with classroom management, and every day I'm just trying to get through it.  It sucks a lot because I really love to teach and I want so badly to be good at it, but management does not come naturally to me.

I read all the time about how some teachers are naturally good at it but most of us have to work at it to improve.  I'm constantly working and pushing myself to try different strategies, and some things work but others do not.  I'm just so frustrated right now because I'm really unhappy with the behaviors in my classroom, and I feel at a loss for how I can really change them.

I have a tendency to complain about the behaviors they exhibit that I really don't like, but I don't want to get caught up in all that here.  I do it enough at work and am trying to quit.  The funny thing is that I really love most of my students.  I'll admit there are a couple who work my nerves on the daily and it's taking me a bit longer to warm up to them.  And it's those kids who are causing the majority of the behavior problems in my classroom, which are trickling down to the rest of the class.  But someone told me to be curious about them, and really get to know and figure out why they behave the way they do.  So I'm working on that relationship building.  I've already eaten lunch with all of my students at least once (in small groups), and now I'm eating with each child one-on-one.

I'm trying to keep believing that things will get better, but I'm also realistic and as we get closer to November, I'm starting to accept the fact that this is who they are and there is only so much I can say and do to build character in them.  This may be the reality of what my classroom is like all year.

I will continue to gather strategies from everywhere: other people, books, observations, etc.  I will continue to hope it will get better, but I don't want to set myself up for disappointment either.  Hopefully, I will be able to make more time to blog about specific issues and continue to reflect on my role in the class and what dynamic I bring to the culture that I have created.  Because one thing I will not do is place all the blame on them....I recognize I play a big part in this too and I've started to ask myself what I'm doing wrong, since at the end of the day I'm the only person I can really control.

Anyway, this has all been just some random babblings.  I have a lot on my mind and I just needed to get something down on "paper" and out of my heart.  I hope my future postings will be more streamlined and focused than this.