Week 12: Searching for balance – still!

This past week was pretty unsettled.  Between the rancorous factions of teachers over the rotating schedule and Halloween there was little peace to be found on our campus.  It seemed to me there were more fights than usual, more girl drama than usual and the kids were just particularly unsettled.  On Thursday I was asked to sub during my prep (Groan!), so I set up the LCD projector, thinking I would show a movie since the teacher had left no sub plans.  Then at the last minute I didn’t have to sub, but the projector was set up, so I decided to do a little Free Rice grammar.  That went well, the kids like it as long as it only lasts a few minutes.  We’ve been writing scary stories in class, so I thought maybe we could practice description by doing a “Language Experience” story on the computer/LCD.  In my first class that was a raging hit.  Everyone had lots of gore to contribute.  Not so much the second group.  For some reason they weren’t at all interested in doing this.  With the participating class we ran out of time, so I said I would finish the story and we’d read/hear it on Halloween.

I turned it into a Keynote presentation, complete with photos (I take photos just for this purpose – I collect them so I have a library availbale for Keynotes.).  I ran out of time before I got to the scary music, but the kids loved it anyway.  We turned off the lights and I showed the Keynote, reading it out in a sort of dramatic way.  I showed it again in the next class, pointing out that this was what I’d tried to do with them.  It was pretty fun, and definitely a good way to introduce a lesson, if I make the time to make the presentation.

On Halloween I also did the first drawing for “Fabulous Prizes.”  I’m feeling controverted (Is that even a word?) about this.  When I began it, it was an idea for a kind of casual behavior modification process, with occasional drawings for prizes.  One day in conversation I mentioned it to the Assistant Principal, kind of laughingly telling him it might help turn things around in my class.  He in turn presented it as a great behavior mod tool to a group of new teachers he is working with.  So now my students are getting tickets in their English and Math classes, and another English teacher is also handing out tickets.  So now what was my idea for something innovative is becoming what is done, for my students at least.  They compare prizes, compare numbers of tickets given out by each of us, talk about the kids who steal tickets from the teacher who is oblivious to their actions, compare how many and what type of prizes we give out.  It has lost its sparkle for me.  I feel like he gave my thing away to everyone else and now I don’t like it anymore.  This is odd, really, because I am normally a very sharing teacher.  I like to help and support others.  Yet sometimes I rue the dilution of a good idea when everyone jumps on it.  I feel like it loses something.

Apart from that, I didn’t really like the prize drawing because only 4 kids got to win.  They all try to be good, love getting tickets, and then are disappointed when they don’t win.  And the ones who did win aren’t necessarily representative of those with the best behavior.  So the number of tickets in the basket didn’t really translate into those who won, as it would statistically seem it would.  So now I am looking for another behavior mod structure that I and the kids like better.  And I won’t be sharing it!

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