Posted: December 31, 2011 in Teaching
Tags: motivating students
The first post is a Facebook note from 2009 which I wrote during the tumultuous first year of teaching. I survived, and I still am teaching at the same school. The purpose of this post is to explain my rationale for this blog. There are copious amounts of blogs and sites that cater to educators. There are technological sites, uplifting sites, differentiation sites, etc. In other words, there are plenty other sites that will fill your mind with a plenty of ideas to use. The point of this blog is simply to share resources that have worked for me in reaching the most difficult students that my middle school has to offer.
I’m not an expert. I do not have a PhD in motivating students that hate school and/or you. I have not written a dissertation nor have I done a research project. I have simply endured a fair amount of insanity, yet I have been successful in catching a large majority of my kids up to grade level (at least what the NC EOG says is grade level).
This may or may not be helpful. I’m basically doing it for therapeutic reasons, but I hope it is of value to someone.
Posted: December 31, 2011 in Teaching
I’m not convinced that there is a more life affirming yet soul sucking job in the world. It is full of great moments and soul crushing events. It is impossible to get a firm grasp on just what you are supposed to do, because it depends on the day and mix of students in your room. If something works one day, it is nearly guaranteed that it will not work the next. With all that said I enjoy teaching. I like the mystery of it. I like the fact that you never know what is going to happen. You think you do. You plan like you know precisely what you will be doing. You even chart out your lesson plans for a week or two at a time. Somewhere in the middle of the week you realize that the best laid plans of mice and men were true words. Truthfully the mystery and unpredictability of teaching can be frustrating and hair loss inducing. This is good though, because I have a built in excuse now for the less than stellar amount of hair that graces my chrome dome.
I knew I was in for a rough ride when I had several (not just one or two teachers) say that they were so sorry that I got the group of students I did for my first year. I have been called a saint. Someone even said I was like Job. Hopefully, that isn’t a prophecy. The truth is I do have a large collection of the “behavior” issues on my team. I was even subpoenaed to appear in court. That was exciting. I had a student tell me he was going to punch me in the face. Another one picked up a desk with the intent of throwing it at another student. I have gotten between a three hundred pound kid and another kid so that they wouldn’t fight. I almost have to be psychic to know where to be so that I can prevent kids from fighting every day. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. For a long time I felt like an unarmed prison guard trying to walk inmates from place to place and occasionally trying to teach them. I read to my students, and then ask them a question that is right there in the text and they stare at me like I asked them to explain how the Space Shuttle works.
On the other hand, yesterday one of my worst students made a logical jump. He read something and came to a conclusion that wasn’t explicitly stated. He figured something out without me spoon feeding it. I almost cried. I’m not a crier by any stretch of the imagination, but I was so proud in that moment that it seemed as though I had just seen my own son take his first steps. Another student that spends more time causing havoc then a minor demon thanked me for helping him avoid a fight. Another student who seems to delight in making my day a living hell apologized to me without being told to do so. A young girl who is not known for her ability to get along with teachers told me that I was her favorite teacher “cause I listen.”
Next week is going to be hell. I can trust in that because that is how it works in seventh grade when you have the “oh you poor man” kids. In the midst of that hell though, I’m going to see something beautiful. I’m going to hear a student say something profound for his/her age. I’m going to prevent a student from getting in trouble and they will be somewhat appreciative. More importantly, I will look back at this year and thank God for letting me be here. I’m going to thank him for giving me the kids from hell. Why? I watched one of my kids take his first steps. A year of smashing my face against the wall is worth that.