One of these classes is not like the other, and I need help.

So, today was my second day, and it started out amazing. We focused on Pair-work norms today, and to facilitate I did the handshake problem with my first two periods and sort of let them play around with it for a bit. They were all into it and guessing the answer and being generally awesome and my morning ended with me feeling amazing about teaching.

Then we got to the Lunch-Gym-Advisory-7th period block of my day, and things went downhill fast. We’re still expected to go down to lunch with the kids to babysit them while norms are still being established, but you can tell the kids resent it. Plus I need some time on my own. But I understand it’s necessity given what a complete SHITSHOW the other school in our building is. How’s this for a low-inference observation: On their way down to lunch the kids came running and screaming and bouncing a basketball off the walls. As we were leaving gym, they stood in two lines and made comments about our school walking through, and then some boys from that school interacted with our school in the hallway. It’s a mess.

Sidenote: I hate being in gym class now almost as much as I did in high school.

Anyone who reads this, I need some advice about my seventh period. I can do the exact same lesson that works amazingly well in first and second period, and we don’t get through half of it because the kids are disrespectful and noisy. I had them come into the room twice because the first time was a mess. I demanded absolute silence for the Try Now. I tried to get 100% (although my principal popped in for an observation and told me I didn’t have it…).  I diffused most situations fairly well, I thought, but there were just so MANY situations.

Some problems I face: My room has no windows and my AC unit is broken, so it’s hot, and after 6 classes it starts to smell a little funky. I get them right after Advisory or Literacy, which is right after gym. The class is my largest (although even then it only has 23 students so I feel bad even bitching about this given the struggles of some teachers).  The girls in the class are all awesome, but the boys are a whole other damn story.

Here is what I’ve decided to do moving forward:

  • Re-do the seating chart – Apparently the alphabet is just not in my favor in this class, so we are reorganizing and spreading the boys out among the girls. Although only some of the girls because the others will get stabby.
  • Structuring this lesson to within an inch of it’s life – Even pairwork will be structured, with a script for them to follow.
  • Spending five minutes tomorrow reviewing classroom expectations and consequences – I also want to say “Ok, so why do you think we have new seats? What happened yesterday that wasn’t awesome?” I’m going for self-regulation.
  • Intervening specifically on certain students that were obviously problematic – There is one student that I have for four classes, and the Social Studies teacher and I have already worked out a specific strategy to use in an attempt to help him self-regulate. We’ll see how this goes tomorrow…
  • Investigate the possibility of reprogramming some of the kids – Do all of the loud, rowdy ones have to be in my 7th period? But then again I don’t want to disrupt the awesomeness of my other classes.

My principal suggested putting the Try Now on a worksheet so they wouldn’t have to copy it, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Above and beyond my desire to not waste trees, I feel like I can get them to copy it quietly. It’s everything after that falls apart. Part of my problem today was i tried to play a name-game so I could learn more names, but it wasn’t structured well enough in that instance.

I guess I think I have a good handle on what needs doing (if not enough time to actually do it between now and tomorrow), or at least what needs trying, but I’m always open to more suggestions. Thanks in advance!

 

Awesome thing that happened today:  I asked students how many of them felt they learned a lot more about the problem even though they didn’t get the right answer, and 90% of the class raised their hands. LEARNING!

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7 thoughts on “One of these classes is not like the other, and I need help.

  1. I had to stern talk my advisory the first day and told them the way they were acting was “freaking pathetic”. Today they were great. You can always go that route.

    • I have a very similar situation for my 3rd period class. A lot of big personalities!

      You already have plenty of great ideas for tomorrow, so I tip my hat to you sir (Let us know how it goes!) One thing I’m trying out with my classes is a preparedness/participation check on some days of the week. While I’m walking around during the warm up, I also take note of who is off task and who isn’t getting started quickly. I’ll let you know how effective that is after a few days of implementation since I only introduced it today. The hope is that I won’t have to perform the check nearly as often as time passes.

      I don’t know if this is the case for you, but some of my rowdiest kids are also the quickest to participate. The problem was that their idea of “participation” was to talk all at once and yell at each other across the room, maybe jump up out of the seat if they’re really heated about having a different guess than their peers for how long it will take dominos in a domino spiral to fall…so we’re working on that.

      …How do I sign off?

      xoxo?

      JN

  2. a. you’re awesome. great strategies!
    b. I love that you’re working on getting a student to self-regulate!
    c. Can you put one student off to the side in a row all his own?
    d. I like the idea of bare bones approach. What if you made it more direct instruction? Some of the students may be acting out because they struggle so much. Try taking away some of the creativity and be very direct…as a side effect, the 7th period may hear how much “fun” the other periods are having and you can remind them that when their behavior improves/when you feel you can trust them, they can have more hands on stuff.

    • Well, my principal suggested that I should allow students to talk about the problems more, but in a very structured way with a quick pace. Which I admit to not really comprehending. We’ll talk. I think I’m a little too abstract for my seventh period in this unit.

  3. I think you’re doing amazing for a few days int the year. Some classes will always be more challenging than others, and I think it’s great that you already have a number of thoughtful strategies in mind to address the issues. Some may even work! 🙂

    It sounds like you’re already getting some of those “Ah-hah!” moments that are one of the many tings that make teaching worthwhile despite the challenges… which is why you’re here in the first place!

    PS: my God daughter started her first year of teaching HS math as part of Teach America, in Las Vegas NV this month as well. Her undergrad degree was in *Arabic*… and not the numerals, LOL!

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