Having been floating on Cloud 9 for the last two weeks, I'm starting to see the ground again. I need to reestablish my expectations in class in terms of behavior and respect for the educational environment.
My task is to determine what behavior is age-appropriate and what needs to be corrected. There are certain aspects that are clear to me, such as interrupting, name-calling and other things that shouldn't be done in polite society.
There is, however, a whole new class of behaviors that I haven't dealt with before and I suspect they are age-based. These include fidgeting, noise-making and a whole host of childish pranks.
"Who stole my pencil??"
In previous years, when my 14-year olds and up exhibited these behaviors, it was a simple task to point it out to them. Even though they are still kids, it's often easy to forget how old they are and if reminded that they are almost adults, they will change their actions.
"What are you doing right now?"
"...acting like a child. Sorry."
With 12-year olds, however, it's very clear that they ARE children. While they have moments of clarity and maturity, it's impossible to forget how old they are. They look like children.
In addition to this, the variation in ages and maturity levels plays so differently in each group of students. Only 13 days in and all of my classes are now in different places. The classes that are slowing down are still asking great questions and are not falling behind from lack of effort, but simply through differences in understanding.
So now that the sparkly shine (So shiny! So chrome!) no longer looks like perfection, it's time to get down to the hard work of teaching. I think this is going to be a very good year.