Monday, August 22, 2005

Classroom Management Update(s)

Well, my plans have changed. So much has changed that I am amazed at my former self of June and July. Throughout the last month I have been slowly realizing ALL the things I need to do in order to have a more efficient classroom. This is what I lacked in the planning stage in the summer. My first day could have been so much better had I known more about my school and its policies. I never imagined bells couldn't ring on time or that students would be more concerned about the social scene than what their teacher was saying. I didn't really understand what it would mean (to my plans and my head) to have to hold my homeroom class for four hours. Time to wake-up!!!!

When I started this process, I never imagined having to raise my voice (not in anger-- but just to be heard) with kids. Wow, thirty students talking at once is loud. And certainly louder than my voice could be. I still have not figured out an effective way to silence all of my students. During my worst class (and worst moments)-- I flicked the lights and they thought it was a light show. But the countdown is only slowly working-- they are learning how to become quiet in five seconds! Maybe one day it will always work!

Okay, so the whole corporal punishment thing. I am still fighting with it. My whole idea about having kids write out of the dictionary has gone out the window-- they don't care and I had one student who owed me 11 pages. And he stole my dictionary (I think). My students are not intimidated by copying things-- in fact I think they prefer it to doing actual work. I enforce my rules but I hesitate to kick students out all the time. I walked by a paddling during my planning period and I almost had a heart attack. How can that work? I sent two kids to the office for fighting and they were paddled. Great....I have to think of something better for my students. I am working on a tutor/detention plan. Calling student parents is a godsend!

Yesterday, my mom was telling about a new system devised to help monitor drug addicts who are on parole. A smalll device was devolped that monitors their sleep patterns. Apparently when a person uses drugs their sleep patterns are altered dramatically. What was surprising about this invention was that the addicts were grateful for a device that would "catch" them. During one interview, a woman who had repeatedly been put back in jail for breaking parole for using again, spoke of how great it was to not be able to fool with the system. The device kept her accountable-- she couldn't lie (and didn't have to waste energy trying...) or try to switch urine when she came in for routine testing. It was clear, reliable and fair.

I know it isn't a very eloqouent comparison, but what I want it a classroom management plan like that. Free from my error. I never realized my students would need so much structure. Structure for everything...I thought that they could decide a few things by themselves. Nope-- I was wrong. I thought I had a lot of structure in my plan. I need more. Don't get me wrong a lot of things did work-- but I am presented with a new problem or situation everyday and I am constantly amending and correcting my orginal plan. If my students are learning half of what I am learning they will graduate college before age 12.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The first first

It is Friday night. I made it through the week. Wow, well, I am glad I will never have to face such a "first" in my life again. I am sort of in a state of shock and happiness. Shock at the school I teach in, where I have to give toilet paper and paper towels to my students when they need to go to the bathroom. And shock at having to explain or stumble over an explaination as to why the drinking foundation yields water hot enough for tea. Shock at demanding for the first time in my life, a grammar book and shock at finding no 6th grade english texts. Shock at being told an overhead projector, and making copies (30 to be exact-- to be shared between classes) is asking too much. Shock at having at least six different (not three, not four, not five but at least six) levels of readers in my classroom. Shock that there wasn't any new teacher training. Shock that several students gave me hugs (maybe they just felt bad for me, I don't know). And sheer bliss when my students finally settle down, work and (I think) learn or laugh at one of my dorky jokes, or are impressed with my ability to come up with crazy alliterations.

As my fiance always says, cava aller-- translation-- gonna get good. C'mon cava aller!