Welcome to my 3rd Year Teaching!
It started the first week of school when students kept enrolling, and getting put in my class. More and more students. It got to be nearly a joke. I got 10 new students over the course of the first week of school.
The part that bothered me the most, though, was that classroom numbers were (and are) wildly unequal at my grade level. Some classes have 10 students fewer than me. The irony is, in my insane state, that segregates children based upon English language proficiency, I am working with the group of students that is supposed to have the smallest class size. Even the State Department of Education advises that classes such as mine have fewer students than I currently have. But, because "language levels" cannot be mixed, and my administration is not willing to find ways around the rule, I have 10 more students in my class than teachers in my grade level with less "needy" students.
I know it's not helpful, or healthy, but every day I look across the hall at the teacher who has so, so many fewer students than me, and imagine all things I could do if I had that number of students. I could actually meet the needs of my students! There would be room in the classroom to move around! I would have enough materials for all the students! It would be a dream!
Aside from the sheer number of students, this is the chattiest group of students I have ever had. So chatty. SO CHATTY. I have tried so many different things to try to get them to use the chattiness for good, not evil. Before we read any story, the students talk about their predictions of every single page with a partner. While we read the stories we have ample opportunities to share with a partner. At the end of the story, students talk with a partner. We're starting to figure out how read-alouds work.
Direction-giving time, though, is still a mess. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get the students to pay attention to the directions/rules for games during math or literacy centers. This results in the direction-giving times lasting too long, (since I have to repeat myself so many times, since students aren't listening) and students getting antsy and bugging each other.
And that's another issue that I have not experienced before. Students are stealthily mean to each other. I have had so many parents talk to me, telling me that XXX student and YYY student are bothering their child, and why am I not doing anything about it. I see nothing in the classroom. If I see nothing in the classroom, I'm not sure what to do about it, since I don't know who is telling the truth. We have had "discussions" (which means we sit in a circle and talk). We have role-played. We have drawn pictures, written stories, taken photographs of positive models. I cannot get the children to be regularly kind to one-another, to keep their hands off of other people, to stop calling each other names or threatening to not be friends.
My current goal, in this area, is to figure out how to get students to differentiate between "tattling" and telling the teacher when someone is bothering them in a more serious way. We made a chart today that lists "cheating during centers games," "stealing my crayon" and "bothering me in line to get a drink" as things that do not require teacher interference. "Pinching, hitting, and pushing" and "if someone bothers me after I tell them to stop 3 times" were put under the heading "Tell the Teacher." I don't know if that's right, or not. We'll see if anything come of it.
Aside from teaching, I have spent the last month or so obsessively following all the Waiting for Superman controversy on the internet. For the record, I think the movie Waiting for Superman is a teacher-bashing, charter-supporting, privately funded, harmful piece of propaganda. I've read nearly every article posted by Not Waiting for Superman on their Facebook page. (As a result, I have a renewed love for Alfie Kohn, which is a whole different story...) I just don't understand why people aren't stopping to look at the community and socioeconomic factors that influence schools and the students who attend schools. Some day, when I have more energy, I will write more about that, hopefully...
I also am about 3/4 done with my masters degree. This semester I am working on an action research project, and have been taking reflective notes on some of the things I do in the classroom. I'm hoping I can take some of those ideas and turn them into blog posts, and maybe actually post on this blog! I really enjoy going back and reading my thoughts from student teaching and my first year teaching. I'm sad that I have practically nothing from last year. I need to document my development as a teacher, so I can look back on it in 10 years and laugh (or cry, I don't know which).