I realize it’s an odd time to “catch up” with all my fellow bloggers and twitter friends out there but it’s 7:45 on a Sunday morning and I’d rather do this than the mountain of grading, weekly lesson planning, worksheet creating and respond to all those emails in my work inbox. So here I am. Running from all this great responsibility I dreamed of – and I have just one phrase to tell you all – I LOVE IT.
I am so happy to finally have my own classroom. It’s been a challenging 7 weeks but overall I believe I’ve had more success than failures.
The first four weeks were hell. As a mid year teacher I knew I would have a lot of push back from my students – mainly behaviorally and they did not disappoint. I was extremely strict and stern and adhered to the code of conduct in ways I didn’t believe were possible. I wrote so many detentions a day and students were always down in administration complaining about me. Is this a good thing? NO. I hated it. I was unable to build any personal relationships because the kids kept testing me. I tried to joke with them but every time I gave them a little leeway they would try to take back the classroom and not refocus. I realized I had to set up these boundaries and sacrifice the relationships for the time being. Maybe a veteran teacher would be better at this than I but in the end – I haven’t written a detention in 2 weeks and the students are acting appropriately and respectfully to myself and their peers. Do they like me? Hell no. Are they working well and doing better in my classroom? Yes. Trade off I suppose. What I’ve been focusing on the last two weeks is building relationships with students and my whole classes. It’s a slow process but hopefully we get there.
Why I am so happy at this school despite being the evil new teacher who just inhabited room 240:
- Administration backs teachers – all those complaints they never once (okay fine, once) asked me to pull a detention or took a students side. Because of this, students started to realize I had merit in my rules and eventually adhered to them. No one has been down to administration in two weeks (despite the girl with the attitude problem on Thursday who was told to talk to me after school and marched down to the Dean of Students).
- Collaboration and a spirit of support – The math department has been wonderful. Almost all the other teachers are around my age in their 4th-5th year of teaching and have a lot of support, materials, and advice to give. They’re fun and happy and not a lot of debbie downer talk over by the vending machines.
- I’m learning – PD every Friday isn’t a drag for this new teacher, I am learning new cool ways to teach materials in my classroom. I’ve adopted the idea of a “support station” in my classroom. This wall in the back of the room could range from being a solution station or a spot where students can check their work only on a multi step problem. This eliminates calling me over constantly and helps them feel in charge of their learning and lets them move at their own pace a little more than if I called back their attention to provide help to the class. I’ve also stolen the idea of “White Board” work from a few of the other teachers. By putting graph paper inside sheet protectors students have little white boards. I give them small expo markers and we do competitive group work review and just general class work on them for something different. New ideas from new colleagues.
- Resources – I have a smartboard, a classroom set of TI-84 plus calculators, and computer labs. May not seem like a lot but it’s a huge leap from the school I worked at before. In addition, the school is kept in immaculate condition.
- Mandatory Math Projects – We have to have a minimum of 3 performance based assessments per quarter. This means they encourage that discovery based learned and more in depth critical thinking rather just all summative procedure based learning.
A post on the struggles to come. Because I promise it won’t fit on here nicely.