Wednesday, August 08, 2007

the educational tug-of-war

These first few days of school have been a learning experience, that's for sure. Trying to take the time and actually learn something from all the experience, however, that's the real challenge. I have two groups of kids and while they are all alike in many of ways, the class personalities are shaping up very differently very quickly. My homeroom kids seem to be mostly on the younger side, 11-12 (I think I even have a 10-year-old). They are antsy but most of them eager to please. My second group is a little older than the first on average and I've got more than one attitude among them.

Most of the last few days has been trying to find a balance for time management and getting my lesson plans in order. It has also been a lot of trying to maneuver for control of my classroom without being a powerless dictator. Today was a 50/50 day on the classroom management front. My homeroom group, I felt, was ready to start getting into the subject a little bit. Nothing too heavy but I needed something to keep them interested or they were going to rebel. My math crossword puzzle went over better than my other bell work activities and the science lesson was mostly a success. There were glitches, to be sure, but I felt like there was genuine learning happening today in homeroom.

The situation did not look so good for my second group of kids. Yesterday I thought we were on our way to improving the attitude but today it was on with a vengeance. One of the girls who is my biggest attitude challenge is also, I suspect, one of my smartest students but she seems determined not to give a rat's ass about school let alone the classroom rules and procedures. I have a couple artists in the class, which I love, but they are currently determined that they either can't do math or just use their hearing selectively. My science lesson with them was a complete disaster. I've cornered myself into an open power struggle with my students and I've got to find a way out fast.

There are plenty of things that I just didn't do properly right from the start, things that didn't get prepared or planned for. Part of that was the time constraints I was under, part of it just plain laziness. Now I'm paying for that but I'm patient enough not to let it get to me and just try and muddle through it. After all, it's not only my paycheck on the line.

So if anyone starts wondering why I don't go out anymore...while you're out drinking have one for me. I'll be at home, writing lesson plans and spending my paycheck on school supplies.

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