Dear Ms. Jacobs,
I was in your fourth and fifth period class last year. I don’t want to tell you my name, but you’d remember me if I did. Not to be rude, but it wasn’t a good experience. I’m afraid I’ll be in your class again next year, so I thought I’d write you a letter and tell you what I noticed and maybe give you some hints for making next year better for all of us. You really didn’t seem to be having fun either, so maybe my tips will help.
.First of all, there were too many boys in that class. Balance is important, and it didn’t exist in there. That’s probably not anything you can change because our level seems to be made up of mostly boys for some reason. Some of those boys just didn’t want to behave themselves appropriately. They saw your class as playtime.
Remember after a few months when a couple of the boys became class leaders? Unfortunately they led by being complete jerks. They bullied people by making fun of them or interrupting them, or just anything they could think of to make a mess of things. They even said mean things to the kids who weren’t of their own culture, and that seemed like racism to me. Even though you got mad when they did it, and even suspended them from your class sometimes, they didn’t stop. That was jus wrong.
The rest of us were a little worried they’d bully us if we didn’t follow their lead, so we did. We played around, threw things, never brought pencils and sat wherever we wanted to, even though you made seating charts. It seemed like you were just too tired to make us do what we were supposed to do. Even calling our parents didn’t help much. Except for those kids who either got expelled or moved to another school because they felt unsafe at our school, the rest of us just kept on playing, all year.
I could often see you just watching them, with no clue what to do other than write them a referral. That worked a little, but not enough. Sometimes I wondered just what a referral was for if it didn’t do anything. We all liked it when they got suspended that one time. The class was calmer, and we didn’t feel like we had to act different. Somehow you’ve got to get hold of those two guys early next year.
Seventh grade was a kind of weird year, I think. Our bodies were changing, in case you didn’t know that, and we suddenly felt different about lots of things, and we don’t really know what to do about it. It seems like we needed more structure just to help us stay focused. We also need you to keep us interested. I’m sorry I was part of the bad behavior. I could see that sometimes you just waited for the bell to ring because there was no way to really get hold of us. That’s a bad memory for me.
Remember that thing you did at the end of the year, Snake Week? Now that was great. We had a focus, it was interesting, and even though we had some work to do about it, we expected that. We didn’t mind because it was interesting to us. We liked every bit of that. We even liked drawing snakes, and we don’t usually like to draw stuff that much. I hope you do more stuff like that next year.
Here are a few more ideas for what might make next year better for us all, including you. I’m going to make a list:
1. Have our day’s work agenda on the board when we come in.
2. Make us write it down in our agendas and then check them on Friday. We really need to learn how to be more organized, so we know what we’re supposed to do.
3. Give us pencils if we need them at the beginning of the period. Don’t stop a lesson to give out a pencil. We can be held responsible enough to take care of our pencil needs, but you have to do it. Hold us responsible, that is.
4. Start each day with something we expect to do. A DOL or a writing prompt, every day, so we just come in and get started. Those bad behavers won’t have a chance to get started if you do that. Or at least that’s what I think. You should try it.
5. Do you think we could use the iPads sometimes? I know that you didn’t trust us with them last year, but if we get wifi in our classroom, could you just try us out with them? We’d really like that.
6. Keep going with those participation points. That worked pretty well. You could give candy or little prizes to the top scorers sometimes instead of always giving points. Just to change it up. I know I’d like that. It’s make me even more interested in getting those points and not losing them for something stupid like not asking for a pencil on time.
7. End each block period about five minutes early so we can pack up our stuff and clean up the room. Playing some certain music as a cleanup signal might be a good idea. I remember we used to leave a terrible mess sometimes. You must have hated that.
8. Remind us often that eighth grade is different from seventh grade. We are getting ready for high school. We want to be successful and we need your help to get there.
I hope you aren’t mad that I gave you ideas. I hope they aren’t dumb ideas. I will be watching to see if you use any of them. I hope we have a good year. I want to promote and I’ll need your help. We all need you.