Never a dull moment

The past week has been filled with the usual ups and downs. Monday was one of those days when I actually felt like I was teaching. One of my least comprehensible students caught me off-guard, showing up early to proudly present to me his homework and his signed monitoring sheet. I barely knew what to say, so I told him “good job!” as enthusiastically as I could. In general, everyone was easier to deal with, and my lessons went over with little difficulty. During the dreaded intervention period, I somehow ended up with 30 kids in my class room, and amazingly enough, I kept them under my thumb and at least somewhat on-task. I was practically waiting for the whole thing to blow up in my face, but it never did.

My bliss wouldn’t last though. Yesterday, my morning started off rough because my most manageable class was chaotic. Then all hell broke loose in the afternoon. One of our security officers literally pile drove at lunch in front of the whole 9th grade, which was a showstopper. If that wasn’t enough, I had to break up my first serious fight in the hallway minutes later during the transition. When my class entered the room for the next period, math obviously wasn’t on their minds. I couldn’t refocus them, and most of the period went to waste.

I hoped to recapture some of Monday’s glory today. Not so much. I had an awful morning class. It was reminiscent of the beginning of the year–me being so overwhelmed with managing misbehavior that I’d completely forget what I was doing during the brief moments of attention. Not to mention I was being observed by my IST and my principal’s coach during this whole mess. My afternoon class was equally unmanageable.

There were a couple bright spots though. I have a couple students that have really improved. One kid, who was a nightmare at the beginning of the year, brought me leftover homemade pizza this morning. Although, while serving detention at lunch, he told me he thought I’d probably just throw it away, like his old teacher. It almost made we want to videotape myself snacking on it after school to prove my appreciation. Also, I think that part of my dissatisfaction is that as I have good lessons, or even good days, I ratchet up my expectations. It’s tough to vividly remember what exactly my first couple weeks of class really felt like (other than being like drowning), so it’s probably hard for me to perceive the incremental improvements. The ups and downs are pretty rough. In the 3 school days we’ve had so far, I’ve bounced between the extremes of really feeling like I can do this teaching thing to wanting to run for the hills.

I’m still working hard to both establish authority and relationships, and I’m still not past the contradictions. I think it’s starting to work a little better though. I’ve made a point of greeting every student I see with a smile, especially before criticizing them for breaking rules, haha. It’s also tough balancing the necessity of asserting authority with the cost in time and credibility it takes to demonstrate it. Specifically, I’ve heard said before that there’s really no way to win in a power struggle with a student. On the other hand, it’s absolutely important to make it known to everybody that disrespect and misbehavior are not tolerated. It’s just so complicated navigating all the nuance on the fly…

Well, the countdown to Thanksgiving is on. Just gotta power through.

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