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Monthly Archives: January 2013

get to the bus!

I had a four day week with two bad days and two good days and this different was all me and my attitude. 

Tuesday was a straight up hard day with my students, but I started both Tuesday and Wednesday already worked up and stressed before the kids even arrived. Just because I was thinking of all the things that could go wrong and all the mistakes I had made in the past and all the mistakes I might make that day. 

And when I realized I was focusing on the behaviors I DON’T want, I tried to change my mind set. It made a really big difference. Don’t get me wrong – classroom management I’m still trying to improve in a major way – but my class is so much more likely to listen to me and want to be a part of what I am a part of when I’m approaching them from a place of calm and positivity instead of a place of stress and fear. Fear makes me so ugly. I mean, it makes everyone ugly, but it really is the emotion that will just wreck me. And I’ve been so ruled by it lately. 

I just hope I can remember this and keep applying it. 


just, the doctor

I had a fascinatingly interesting day. 

Of course, as it was happening I wasn’t thinking of it as fascinatingly interesting, I was thinking it was torture and that I should just give up teaching because I am so terrible at it. And those points are still worth looking into,  but I’m trying to think constructively. 

I had a smaller than usual group today – two kids absent, one of them my big Problem Child. Days without him are usually very different in a real nice, utopian way, but today was not. I also had two kids leave early for various reasons (dentist, eye doctor) and one go home sick. And another student – my super low student who has problem behaviors because of that – was pulled to work with specialist for a large chunk of the day. 

But it was still CAHRAZY. And because it was a smaller group and toned down overall because of that, I really got to see the outlying behaviors of some (two, really) of my other students. I am in a place now where I still DO NOT know how to deal with them, but I have a clearer picture. 

One boy – K – has had bullying and attitude issues all year and I’ve talked to his mom a bunch of times, etc. But today he was NUTS. Just, off the wall. It wasn’t even his usual brand of disruptive, so I’m hoping it was a fluke. Maybe he had a party filled weekend and is having trouble getting back into school mode, I don’t know – and I can certainly be sympathetic to that. We had a chat at the end of the day about coming ready to learn tomorrow and I hope that helps. 

The other, also a boy – N – was doing his usual things but it stood out so much more without  my serious problem student present. He is a kid with a sweet heart and the first time in my short teaching career I have really seen someone with so much trouble focusing or keeping his body still that I wondered about whether medication could help. I get tired watching him – not to mention trying to keep him from getting anyone else off task – and I truly do not think he has control over a lot of it. I don’t think he CAN keep from making those sounds, or moving his body like that, at least not as much as I wish he could. 

I still have a long way to go to master classroom management. And I have to focus and remind myself that if I keep trying, it will come. I hope that is true. I know that I have improved as a classroom manager since last year, but I’m also so much more aware of what could be better than I was at this time last year. As so much more cognizant of the instructional time lost to behavior issues.

My mini goal going forward is to focus on giving myself a bit of a break – and by that I mean still trying as hard but not beating myself up when things don’t go well. I have mornings before school where I fill with dread and a sense of panic just because I’m convinced or worried that the day will go terribly wrong. And I am not the sort of person who’s best comes out under fear – exactly the opposite. I want to keep on taking chances but give my heart the space to have things go wrong and not take it as a knife in the gut. 

Practically speaking, this also means I plan to pull Conscious Discipline back off the shelf and reconnect with some of the important stuff I had internalized earlier this year. I have a lot of great classroom management ideas in my head that people have shared or I’ve read about, but that books feels RIGHT to me personal philosophy in a way other things don’t, so I’m going to make it my focus. 

more bathrooms

I am having a not-the-best week in terms of lesson success – after a chunk of time with great success – and of course it is when things are NOT going well that I am drawn to reflection on my practice. 

And that is a faulty practice! I need just as much to keep a regular mental file of things that worked WELL to go along with the things that DIDN’T work pile. 

So one thing that did work well recently that it would benefit me to remember:

Pairing a math/content lesson with a story book wins this group over in a major way. It would benefit me to really search out mentor texts that pair with math concepts and see if the school library has them or get them from the public library. (I’d buy them if I wasn’t essentially destitute)

And one big thing to remember:

When I don’t really plan my week out over the weekend, things get nasty. I have the habit of spending an evening or afternoon each weekend thinking about the week and writing an overview of the lessons I plan to teach and the other things going on during the week. I don’t write anything big out – it really just looks like notes in a lesson planning book – and I’m reference the larger plan I made for the year (and am always tweaking when necessary) but having those couple of sentences that detail what I plan to do make the biggest difference. 

This weekend was busy and I didn’t get the chance to sit down and do that. And even though I knew we were going to do verbs this week, and start multiplication – not having those clearer notes messed me up. 

And I know myself now as teacher – when a lesson isn’t going well, and I know it’s my fault because of bad planning (as opposed to it just not clicking, etc), I get REAL grumpy and when I get grumpy I get short with my class and when I get short with my class, my least favorite behaviors pop right back up. And then it is a vicious cycle – because that only makes me grumpier. Rinse and repeat! 

Two days left of the week and I’m still more off the cuff than I’d like (you’d think I would have sat down to closely map out today and tomorrow, but NAH, let me just continue the badness!).