All The Small Things
Ugh, it's Wednesday. Two Wednesdays in a row have been particularly hard days in no way in particular. So many feelings right now, good and bad. It's hard to focus and separate and comb out my tangle of thoughts and emotions.
There are so many big changes that I have to do in order to improve as a teacher, but I can't do everything all at once. I can't even make one big change happen at once. It takes time. Right now, I can only focus on the small things.
Small, do-able actions that have had big-ish effects:
-Smiling at students seems to have an unexplainable, magical effect: students who were sitting doing nothing ask me questions that show me that they were confused that whole time; students are nicer to me--friendlier, more helpful, more behaved; students calm down and I feel the tension between us melt just a little teensy bit...
-Sweeping the halls for wandering students during my prep and herding them into their classes makes me feel productive. It also gives me a chance to meet more students at the school--which in turn is good because I feel myself establishing my presence and permanence at this school.
-Walking around the class in a purposeful order (like following a walking path) gets more students on track during their Opener activity. It gives me an excuse to not try to attend to every student who's trying to get my attention ("I didn't do my homework, can I turn it in late?" "I need to use the bathroom" "I was absent yesterday, can I get the work?") all at once. This is important because then I'm able to take attendance, I'm able to tighten up on behavior issues and understanding issues during the Opener, and it gives all students a chance to have my attention when it's their turn.
-I can't deal with all the students who have been giving me attitude, but I can choose one or two at a time to address. I spoke to one student after my class when I saw her sitting in the hallway during her next class and I had a heart-to-heart with her. It was impossible to try talking to her earlier when she was telling me to leave her alone and when she wasn't doing her work because other students were watching our power struggle. When I had her one-on-one, I was able to tell her that I was surprised at her behavior because she had been doing so well up until today and that I was worried that there's something else going on in her life that's distracting her and putting her in a bad mood. I'm hoping she and I will have a better day with each other tomorrow. Another student has been throwing paper in my class and hasn't been staying after school when I tell him to stay after and clean up. I spoke with our school secretary and had her call his auntie (Spanish-speaking) and her auntie said that she will personally take him to me after school tomorrow and watch him pick up paper. YAY! There's so many other students who I can/should deal with as proactivity as I dealt with those two students today, but for now, I'll take the fact that I dealt with two students at all as a win.
-Chatting with students who aren't participating in P.E. I can't force anybody to do anything. I try to make activities engaging and I make participation a part of their grade, but ultimately, there are a few students who sit on the bench and choose not to do anything. When I know there's no hope in getting them to move, I just chat with them about their lives--like what they hope to do after graduating, what their hobbies are, if they have any siblings, and where they live. This is great for me because it gives me something to talk to them about later when I see them in the halls and it gives me a clearer picture of the maturity level of students. I'm getting better at making my lessons relevant to students whether they're 14 years old or 21 years old and I credit that to my getting to know them and having a better idea of my audience.
Here's to making it over the hump. Hip hip hooray!
BTW, I found today's picture here.