Hanging In There

Last week was not my best week, even though I was only at work for 3 1/2 days. I felt like I was running on fumes. But I think/hope I’m starting to come around. I’ve been really trying to work on my attitude. It kind of feels like little by little, I’m gaining perspective on what I should be doing. I’ve been trying new strategies to get control of my classes, and I think I’m making some headway. Changing my classroom culture is going to be a long process. The biggest thing I’ve had to change for myself is holding higher expectations for student conduct in my own mind.

At the suggestion of one of my roommates, I’ve tried one little thing that has made a notable difference. It’s one of those new-school strategies with stupid names that sound like they would never work: “accountable talk”. The idea is, instead of repeating expectations or directions, I say them one time, and if I notice someone is not moving, I ask them what they’re supposed to be doing. Sure enough, it often gets them moving. When it doesn’t, I still do not repeat the directions. I ask if there’s someone who can explain the directions, or I give hints by pointing out groups who have the hang of it. It’s not the magic bullet, but the strategy has been very helpful for students who are daydreaming or engaged in benign off-task behavior. As it turns out, it really does seem to empower students, and reduces the number of direct commands I have to issue.

I feel exhausted, but the good news is that grad class is done for the semester, and there are only a few days left until break. I’m told that I can expect things to come together for me a little bit more after Christmas, and I’m going to do my best to make sure I come out swinging in January. As for tomorrow, judging by the fact that I’m still awake at 2am (thanks, 5-Hour Energy!), I can only imagine it’s going to be a bit of a rough day.

By the way, thanks to everyone who’s read about my adventure and lent support. It means a lot to me. I’m going to try to continue to document the experience, so keep checking up.

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