Today went much better than yesterday. I really struggled this morning with motivation to get up and go to work, but once I got there and got some coffee in me (two whole mugs) I started to feel better.
Yesterday I was running into the problem that my students were either completing the bellringer too early or not working on the bellringer at all (again). In either case, they would begin to socialize rather than work, making the class feel hectic, me feel frazzled, and preventing me from helping students who were working.
So today I not only had the bellringer on the board but the first activity, which was 6 multi-step equations written on the board. I told them once they were finished with the bellringer, they should start working on those problems and if they had a solution, they could write it on the board. Then I was also much more proactive about re-directing as I walked around checking bellringer work and homework.
This went much better than yesterday. I still had some reluctant students, but overall the beginning of class was more organized and I felt more effective.
Once I had finished checking I continued to walk around, encouraging students to work on the board problems and then write on the board. I then had students who had written on the board explain their work. Stopping them to help them clarify their thinking to the class or to ask about a mistake.
I have been very careful to constantly repeat to all of my classes
“It is OKAY to make mistakes in my class. It is not dumb to make mistakes. It is not bad to be wrong. That’s why we are here.”
I have gotten some good responses from the students on this. When I prompt them, they answer with what I have told them I expect of them. “Are we allowed to make mistakes?” I ask. “YES,” they answer, and roll their eyes. I think they are tired of me asking.
So I do not feel bad about pointing out mistakes or asking students to find the mistake.
I really, really, REALLY need to get some whiteboards for the whole class but I haven’t had the time or money. More on the time aspect in a minute.
After we worked through the problems, I reattempted a “what does good group work look like” activity where I asked the students to write what they came up with on the board. I had tried it yesterday and it was a disaster. I had made a Google Doc for them with editing privileges. They did not have the maturity to handle this. Immediately students were deleting each other’s work and spamming the chat with “TRUMP 2016” (Believe or not, it was my Hispanic students doing this. I held a few after class yesterday and asked them if they were simply trolling. They said yes. I remember being in high school and this strikes me as a very high school kind of joke. I don’t think they think it’s too big of a deal, and I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I told them I didn’t care about what candidate they were writing, I just needed them to not spam the chat when they should be working. They agreed to do better. We will see.) So today I just had them write on the board. I was still not completely satisfied. (I’m no Justin Aion, I just look like him.) But it went a lot smoother today and I think students actually took some things away this time.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself. The word problem activity we did in groups immediately afterwards did not go so well. I had broken down the word problem for them quite a bit, but every class struggled. But I had expected this, which is why I only had one word problem and had scaffolded a LOT (possibly too much, I don’t know). I still had students who were lost, students who finished but didn’t really understand, and students who did not want to talk to or help anyone. I’ll keep making them work together. We will get there.
After we struggled through that, I gave them a few examples of more complicated equations to solve and then let them try a few, giving them only one at a time so that all of my students were working on the same problem. I’ve been trying to give too many problems on a worksheet and they all work at different paces and haven’t really learned how to help each other yet. And then I get bombarded with questions about 5 different problems so instead I gave them all the same problem and had them all work on it at once. I don’t know why I wasn’t doing this before. We got through a few of these that way.
Then it was the Exit Ticket using a Google Form and the homework assignment until the bell. I had to threaten a few students who did not want to work at the end but they (mostly) came around. I’d love for math to be their motivation to work until bell to bell but until they get to that point, I’m willing to nag them unceasingly.
So I am feeling a lot better and more encouraged today.
Except OH MY GOODNESS I FORGOT TO DO ANYTHING WITH MY SLO AND IT WAS DUE YESTERDAY AND I HAVE WAY TOO MUCH TO DO WITH ALL THIS EXTRA STUFF AND DON’T TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY I JUST HAVE SLO AND SAFE-T AS A NEW TEACHER AND THEN MAKING LESSON PLANS FOR THE FIRST TIME AS A NEW TEACHER AND JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE AND AHHHHHHHHH I HAVE TO DO THAT STUFF AFTER I WRITE THIS AND ALSO PLAN FOR TOMORROW AND I’M GONNA STOP YELLING NOW.
It’s Friday tomorrow. Huzzah!
Oops, I almost forgot why I am a big old softie and posted without explaining. I gave a student hours (detention) for repeatedly talking instead of working. The student came back later during lunch. The student was crying and said they had never had detention before. I couldn’t resist the tears. I threw away the detention.
I know, hang on.
I told them that if they continued to talk tomorrow I would give them detention again and that I was not going to rip it up a second time. I figure if the tears were real, I did the right thing and if the student was a phenomenally good actor and those were crocodile tears, I will know not to trust them in the future if they do not make behavior changes.
I’m so bad at discipline and I’m still a first year teacher but I think I have become a much better manager of the classroom than I was as a student teacher in 2012. Made progress but miles to go. Which is why I’m writing this.
Thanks for reading!