Suddenly, a wild class appeared!
Seriously, though, all of my classes went well. The kids were attentive, I was able to get grading completed and entered in time for progress reports (though more than half of my classes got nothing but participation because that’s the way things have been lately), and I even managed to make adjustments to a colleague’s computer.
The last class, however, just knocked me out. I don’t understand, because the teacher runs a really tight ship. I know this because all she has to do is glare at them and you can hear a pin drop. Part of me wonders if the kids act out because they can’t in her class. This isn’t an excuse, of course, but it would explain their behavior.
I’ve been battling a cold for just a little over a week and this class didn’t make it any better. Because my sinuses were affected, I couldn’t really project so students had to strain to hear me. This class, however, made me YELL in order to be heard above them, which only stressed my throat out more. I also had to send my first student down to the office.
I need to think a little bit more about this class. I talked to a couple of kids as they were getting ready to go home, but next week, I might talk to them about responsibility and disappointment. I thought they could do today’s activity with minimum supervision, but I was wrong. I hope that if they could see the consequences (no more group work for a long time), it will force them to calm down and focus a bit more.
I just want to relax and eat some ice cream and pie.
Let's teach the substance behind mathematics: Valerie Faulkner
Mathematics curricula contain too many shortcuts and encourage pure, boring memorization, overlooking genuine understanding. Valerie Faulkner shares hands-on techniques that expose the meaning in the mathematics. (Filmed at TEDxNCSU.)
Each week, we choose four of our favorite talks, highlighting just a few of the enlightening speakers from the TEDx community, and its diverse constellation of ideas worth spreading. Browse all TEDxTalks here »
I believe in encouraging competition in the classroom. I also believe in encouraging betting in the classroom. I do it all the time.
For example, in my class, students keep binders. We are working on organization skills. One organizational skill my students seem to lack is remembering where they put their binders. Which they always put on the same shelf. Every day. All year.
At least once a week one of them will shout, from the binder shelf, across the room, “Ms.S! My binder is not here!”
Then I will say, as calmly as the Buddha, “Yes it is.”
And the student in question will inevitably answer, “It’s not though!”
So, I will say, “I will bet you $20 that I can find it.”
Then the student will waiver. He or she will wonder, “Is the binder really on this one shelf where I leave it every single day?” But, teenagers are nothing if not intractable. The student will insist that the binder is gone, likely stolen.
Then I go over and I find it and I hand it to the student and I remind him/her that I am now owed $20. They never pay up. Welchers.
I encourage them to wager with their grades as well. For example, if I provide in-class study time before a quiz or test, I will watch to make sure students are all utilizing their time productively. When I find a student who is texting under the desk or inside her purse, or who is drawing his name repeatedly in red, graffiti-style letters on a piece of paper, or who is staring blankly into space, eyelids growing heavy, I walk over and propose a little bet.
“Wanna go double or nothin’?” I ask. Then I point out that since said student is supremely confident in his/her ability to perform on my assessment, and therefore does not require study time, he or she must be certain of a perfect performance. Logically, I then explain, the student must be ready to go double or nothing on his/her quiz. If the student performs perfectly, without a single mistake, I will double his/her score. They love this part. However, the catch is, if the student makes even one, little mistake, the score will be zero. Usually, the student will pull out his/her notes and begin studying.
Once in awhile, though, a student will take the bet. Then he or she must write, “Double or Nothing,” on the top of the quiz and initial it. One zero usually serves to reinforce the importance of using class time wisely. And if the student does win, I give him/her double the points, and publically announce the perfection, lest I be accused of being dishonorable.
Once, I went a tad too far. I set up some of my more loquacious students with equally garrulous rivals on the other side of the classroom and encouraged them to bet ten points that they would each outperform their chosen rival on a vocabulary test. I tried to cover my bases. I was careful to pit friends against friends. They got really into it. They wrote on their papers, “I will do better than So-and-So.” It was all in good fun.
Until I got home and started to grade the quizzes. And found this:
“I will do better than Ben Dover.”
In that moment, I realized that once a teacher opens the floodgates of the ludicrous in her classroom, she is hard-pressed to close them again. I learned that while it is good to try and find means for motivating unmotivated students, it is still important to maintain a tone of professionalism and academic respect. Otherwise, what recourse do I have to punish those who don’t take the parameters of my joking around seriously?
Since then, I try to limit my betting in the classroom as much as possible. Which is why I refused to put ten on the World Series this fall, even though it might have been fun. I had to remember to maintain a clear boundary about what is and is not appropriate in class.
Besides, these kids never pay up anyway.
So I promised...
a student from the last two years that I would advertise his humor page on facebook. He was the author of Turkey’s Revenge: Part 2, many “Hey, Miss At” quotes, and is probably the reason a lot of you follow this blog in the first place. He is quite a hoot.
I’m pretty sure if I don’t post this link anytime soon, he will not speak to me for 10 years. So here you go, cousin. It’s done. Miss you!
P.S. Yes, on the first day of school of my first year of teaching, I found out that I was teaching my distant cousin.
Things I Learned Today When Visiting my Old English Teacher
- Now that I’ve graduated, he’s a bit intimidating because he keeps asking me about my classroom management skills when I student taught last year and what books I had the kids read, and what kind of homework I gave them etc etc.
- And I have this innate desire to please him and make him proud so it’s awkward when I tell him I’m in transition and I’m not currently teaching.
- He too struggled to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. (Which makes me feel better, because I got halfway through it on my first try—maybe I’ll give it another go)
- He’s having his sophomore honors students pick a young adult book to read for the semester and one of the choices is A Fault in Our Stars by John Green which I think just reaffirmed my thoughts that he’s the best English teacher I ever had.
- One of the other books that they can choose from is called Between Shades of Grey (I don’t know who the author is) and he told me that people look at him funny and tell him he’s sick because they think it’s a copy of “that porn book” when really it’s about this girl living in Russia under Stalin…
- I love talking to him about books. It’s literally the best thing. And it makes me really happy.
- This is his last year teaching. He’s going to go work on a farm and keep bees and go on road trips with his wife when he retires. Just another reason why he’s awesome.
“This gesture of tenderness undid her completely and she put her head down on her knee and sobbed. (Direct Object)”—Note found in a student’s desk. The quote is from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I am so touched a) that a student liked this quote enough to write it on a scrap of paper, and b) that the student noticed that the sentence contains a direct object. Middle schoolers can be truly amazing.
I'm gloating, I know
I could tell I hurt a kid’s feelings today, but it all comes with the lessons we teach.
And I don’t care when we’re talking about the hateful use of words, but anyways..
I overheard one of my kids (sweet girl, great sense of humor, in the gifted program) say that something was “gay.”
I announced her name loud enough for her group to hear and others to overhear and asked her what she said. She turned and just stared. It was that “Oh, uh, f***********k, please don’t yell at me. I’m an innocent child!” look. I asked her again, sternly, “*redacted,* what did you just say?” I could swear she was going to cry (could be a ploy, so I didn’t let it affect me.)
She finally whispered in the sweetest little-girl voice
“Gay means happy.”
“Gay doesn’t mean happy. Not anymore. Gay means homosexual.”
Gay can mean anything other than straight. Gay, the way you mean it, is negative and hateful. I told her she wasn’t in trouble, but she needs to forget that word if she’s trying to explain how something isn’t cool.
We aren’t in the 19th Century, sweetheart.
Alright, so I’m already trying to come up with a game plan to deal with the kids in my first placement. They aren’t bad, just rowdy, and I think a lot of it has to do with being stuck in a desk all day with a constant monotony. It didn’t help that my CT was just expecting them to act up, so of course they did.
I’m just wondering, what sort of behavior management techniques work for you other tumblr teachers?
I think my biggest challenge will be the kids in eighth period. There’s a couple that feel it’s their job to yell at everyone else to be quiet, which only results in more yelling.
I want to do a participation grade for every day, everyone starts out with points, but you lose them for sleeping, or disrupting the class (and that includes telling everyone else to be quiet)…what do you guys think?
These are mostly sophomores in high school.
Also, we had a girl who took out her weave in the middle of class, went to her locker, and got a new one to put in…
How is this acceptable. How is it that this girl believed it WAS acceptable?
Also, I see no “classroom rules” posted. I think I’ll make one for my teaching time. My CT said I can do whatever I want….