This was the last week of the quarter, and I’m doing a lot of reflection about how I might change things for the next nine weeks. Maybe if I look at what is, I can see more clearly what I might change. Things are not smooth in my classroom, and I have to figure out how to change them for all of our sakes. So, without further ado:
1. Almost half of my students are failing my classes. They are failing other classes too, but I can only deal with mine right now.
2. When I gave them a grade check yesterday, along with their folders of completed, graded work, only those who already had pretty good grades wanted to do anything to improve their grades. Those who were failing didn’t have much interest in the whole activity.
3. Behavior is still unruly at times, jumpy at the best of times. By this I mean that my students are completely comfortable to get out of their seats to use a little hand sanitizer in the middle of class, or go make a comment to a classmate, pass a note or tear chunks our of their classwork to fold it into a little missile to shoot at a friend. I miss the missile throwing, but they hand in the torn up papers. I have been taking points off of a torn up paper.
4. They are all happy kids who seem to like each other, and me, just fine.
5. Their attention span seems very short. Even my coolest SMART Board activity only holds them for a very few minutes. It seems to work best if I assign an activity that goes along with whatever is on the SMART Board, and then let them do the SMART activity one at a time.
6. They are in my classroom for 100 minutes. There is a 3 minute break in the middle of that time, but when I let them take it it takes about 10 minutes to quiet them down after it so sometimes I don’t even let them go. Especially when they have been off task in the first hour I don’t let them go for the little break.
7. I can’t let there be any downtime between activities or I lose their attention.
8. I have them in a seating chart and I make them stay in it. No matter how many times I have to return them to their seats. I chose those seats because I needed to separate some talkers and players.
What I could do to make it better:
1. Choreograph the days better, to minimize downtime.
2. Make sure I have a variety of activities planned to keep their interest.
3. Make a daily and weekly routine so they know what to expect next.
4. Maybe put the desks in a different arrangement. Maybe the long rows are counterproductive. I think more kids in the front row is a good idea. Will I have to teach differently?
5. How should I deal with the behavior? I do make phone calls home. Should I make more of them? I don’t like to send kids outside or to the office, but keeping them in their zone of misbehavior isn’t working out too well either. Sending them to another overcrowded classroom doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me, either, although it is what our Assistant Principal wants us to do, rather than send them to him.
6. Make sure I drink a lot of water and get plenty of personal activity time and exercise so that I can tolerate what I can’t change? That may be the most productive idea of all.
7. Keep on writing and writing, about this and anything else that arises. Reflection always helps me to stay centered.