Rookie Year: Day 101

Today was very frustrating.

My lesson plan was notes on laws of exponents, then an activity where kids worked in groups to explain exponent problems, then a Kahoot.

No one wanted to work in a group. Some of them just talked to friends but even the ones that were working absolutely, positively, refused to talk to their group. I had to micro-manage them to get them to just get up and go sit with their assigned groups. And then as I was walking by, they all were just silent working on their own. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much that they were working, but I had asked them to work together and talk and they were plain old ignoring me.

In first block after a whole class redirect it got better. But my second block was stubborn and a new student is throwing off my class dynamic. I will need to get her on board with how the rest of the class works or my middle block is going to start being a problem.I tried modeling what group work would look like by talking through a problem in front of the entire class with a student and then suddenly it was like she forgot everything. And I had purposefully picked her because she normally knows the answers and is willing to talk and share. But she clammed up. “I don’t know, Mr. Belcher.” I had high hopes over lunch for my final block because they had been doing so well this week with group work and responding. And they were dead. And were the worst all of three blocks at talking to each other. They flat out would not.

I felt very frustrated with the whole day. I don’t know how to get students to work in groups. I hate that the only thing they seem to respond to is me up at the board walking them through every single problem or them sitting with headphones in working on problems individually. There’s a time for both of those, but I also want them to talk and work through problems they don’t know how to do.

I tried “I won’t answer questions until you have talked to your group” but that got me the following exchanges:

“Mr. Belcher how do I do this?

“Did you ask your group?”

“Yes”

(Rest of group) “No.”

“So I want you to talk to your group”

And then they sit there silently. Or blaze ahead. I know sometimes you have those students who work quickly and feel as though getting the assignment done is more important than understanding or working through it, I used to be that student. But it was ALL of my students today. No one would talk to one another.

I was so angry with the stubbornness of my final block and how the previous blocks had been as well that I gave a pretend pop-quiz to final block. I threw 5 problems on the projector and told them they had 10 minutes. I don’t do pop-quizzes and I don’t use grades to punish, so I didn’t truly have plans to grade them, but I was upset with them and a little worn down. Maybe I was throwing a little fit, but gosh darn it they just REFUSED to talk at all and I was mad at myself that I didn’t know how to model or inspire them to get them to do anything. And during the quiz, I had students not taking my “No Talking” seriously and I ended up giving out about 7 detentions to various people. I really did not understand what the deal was. I gave them a sermon at the end.

I don’t know. I’m still frustrated with today even as I sit here and type it up.

I have to go to Open House now.

Thanks for reading.

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