I keep putting off blogging because I keep wanting to pick up from where I left off when I last blogged. So much has happened since then, though. So much good. I feel less inspired to write when things are going well.
And, well, things were rough today, so I'll blog. And I'll just jump right in. No explanation, no context.
What Went Well
I'm proud of how I tightened up control of the class from when it was chatty and crazy during the passing period to the time that it was actually time to start at. At , I said "I'm going to walk around to check that you got started on your opener and give you credit for starting". Then, I gave them some wait time to actually get started. I did various things to warn them that I was coming to check that they got started (such as circling a few times before actually giving credit) and acknowledging students who did get started. The idea behind this is to actually get people started rather than necessarily punish students for not starting quickly enough.
Then I started circulating and giving credit. In an impassioned way, I gave credit for starting on the paper; if a student didn't start, I made it clear that I checked their paper, saw that they didn't start, and then did not give them credit. I did this because in the past, some students didn't realized that I purposefully did not give them credit and later told me that I had forgotten to give them credit.
Students have been noticing that they are missing points from their work when they don't get credit for starting right away. I'm using their grade as their incentive to get started right and transition from passing period to chemistry.
When reviewing the opener, I was proud of how it went. I told students to put a *star* next to the problems that they weren't sure about. I made an observation out loud about how there was at least one or two that everyone was unsure about; nobody was sure of their answers for all of the problems. This way, students felt encouraged to recognize what they didn't understand.
After that, I had students call out the numbers that they weren't sure of. I read the problem out loud to the class. I then invited students who DIDN'T put a star next to that problem to share their answer and argue their reasoning. I then clarified the correct answer to make sure that it was understood by students who were still unsure. We repeated this process a few times. Many different students called out ones they weren't sure of. Many different students called out ones that they were sure of. Students were able to hear other students' answers and reasoning and adjust their understanding of the problem accordingly.
Beginning of Class Notes
I've been consistent with the format of class notes; students know what to expect (lecture and board notes). Students notes' are extremely scaffold; for example, a bullet-point note will be written on their paper for them and they only have to fill in the blanks.
For today's notes, there was a bit of review mixed in with fill-in-the-blank. In this way, students were able to fill in the blanks on their own or by helping each other rather than me giving away the answers. I also was able to publicly praise students who knew the answers.
What Didn't Go Well
The opener review was kind of long, so I think that's why I started losing students' attention. Or maybe they were just extra squirrelly today.
I made a clear transition into the notes. I said "now, we're starting our class notes. all phones need to be away or faced down; ear phones out." i then publicly praised correct behavior and privately or gestured behavior corrections (this seems to work better than publicly making behavior corrections).
There was a point in the notes where they mostly just had to listen, watch the lab demonstration (a review from the lab that they did yesterday), and answer my checking for understanding questions; they did not have to write anything down. I think this is where I started to lose them.
Once they started messing around and were super, super, super chatty, I started making threats of a seating chart. I told them that they had to prove to me that they can handle choosing their own seats. I then tried to carry on with the notes, but they kept chatting. I kept correcting individual students' behavior. I moved some students. I gave verbal limits to students and options ("either move to this seat or step outside. you choose, but I'm not going to wait" and then I turned away).
Finally, it reached a point when they just wouldn't stop chatting. I said "OK, looks like we're doing a seating chart. go ahead and chat now, because i'm going to go make the seating chart at my desk right now."
At this point, some students got frustrated, some said "yay, we're not doing anything!", some said "what are we doing right now? so she just stopped teaching?"
I made the new seating chart at my desk in the back of the room to give myself time to cool off.
When I finished, I gave clear, observable instructions. I said, in a strong teacher voice "pick up all your stuff and get up from your seats. move out of the way so that the next student can sit in that seat." I then made everyone move to their assigned seat. there was only one issue where a student privately told me that sitting next to one student (an ex-boyfriend) was not going to work, so i privately changed their seats.
After everyone settled, I got on my soap box. I wanted to make my reason for moving seats clear. I told them that I don't like having to switch up everyone's seats because of a few students. I told them that now that i DID have to move everyone's seats, if people still continued chatting, they'd just get kicked out. it was perfect silence at this point. I told them that what I hoped they noticed is that I was very frustrated with their behavior, and that I could have just given up and sat behind my desk and stopped teaching them as if they aren't capable of learning anything.
I told them that I DO know they are capable of learning this and WANT to learn this and that I also WANT to teach them. I don't WANT to sit at my desk and give up. I know that they want to learn and I want to keep teaching them. So with that, I said to them, let's continue with the lesson.
And we continued. And it got a little better. i still had to do some adjustments because even with a perfectly behaved class, I still didn't have the lesson down tight. I had to quickly adjust and do things like "Write down what you think the answer is. I will come around and check. OK, now that you've written it down, argue your case with a partner." And then I went around and tried to gather information for myself where the misunderstandings and misconceptions are.
At the end of this, I regrouped the class and asked a couple of students who gave great arguments share their argument with the class. Then, I restated that students' argument.
After this, I had to prepare some board work, so I had students re-write their new understanding of the problem. I gave clear instructions and repeated what they were doing as I prepared the board work.
At this point, students started acting childish again (including throwing things at each other). I expressed my frustration again, and said that they were acting like 9th graders. I saw some students realize that I was frustrated with their behavior. I then back peddled and said "I'm sorry, I don't mean that you all are acting like 9th graders. I apologize to so and so, and so and so..." in order to recognize (for myself) that they weren't ALL acting a mess. At this point, another students decided to toe the line. I kicked him out for the rest of the 5 minutes. I didn't stop and write him a pass or anything and I didn't actually intend on going to check on him, because there was only 5 minutes left and I wanted to send the message that if you're not ready to learn, then leave.
I tried talking to him after class, but he walked away and ignored me. So I called home. His father sounded pretty angry with his son. Yay.
That's all for now. Thanks for reading :)