Monday, October 24, 2016

Day 42: What's Going Wrong

I don't want to go back to rows.  I don't want my classroom to look like the traditional class.

I want my class to be based in discussion and discovery.  I want my students building ideas together and working to understand the idea that other people built.

I just don't know how to get there from here.

I feel, in fact, as though we are moving in the wrong direction.

I'm not sure why is happening, but I do have several theories.

1) The novelty has worn off

The district is entirely under one roof and the graduating class is less that 80.  The majority of the students have been here for not only their whole lives, but for several generations.  A large portion of the teachers have children in the district, or are alumni themselves.  It's very tight-knit.

Being a new teacher in any district comes with benefits and drawbacks.  The major drawback is that you don't know the kids as well as you would like and it takes longer to build up the rapport that makes teaching what it is.

As a new teacher, however, you can do all sorts of new things in terms of pedagogy and the students will go with you.  Ideally, they see benefits from these new methods before they slide back into "school sucks" mode.

It takes 28 days to build up habits and some have taken root, but not all.

2) I am not familiar with the curriculum

I have taught multiple different subjects using different curricula over the years, so this really shouldn't be an issue.  I should just be able to follow the text that was chosen by the previous teachers and go through it.  I'm having a problem with timing and sequence.  In addition to this, I find myself having to teach or reteach concepts that would consider to be pre-requisite.

Since the curriculum is new, the pre-requisite skills are also in a very different order than the one with which I'm familiar and different from that which the students have covered.

3) I haven't adjusted to the maturity level

Part of the purpose of having a middle-school model for education is because the drastic change between elementary and high school.  7th and 8th grade are supposed to be used as transition years, helping students to develop the habits that they need to be successful.  Many of these skills and habits are social in nature and are designed to help students not only deal with the academic rigor of high school, but the social pressures of life.

It took me almost an entire year to adjust when I first started teaching 8th grade.  That age level suits me well.

The 7th grade is entirely a different animal.  The kids are goofy and high energy.  Many of them still have an elementary mentality and I haven't adjusted to that yet.

Since this is my first year teaching kids so young, I'm still not sure what is developmentally appropriate behavior and what should be addressed more seriously.

I've been dealing with "he's touching me!" more than I ever have before and I can't tell if it's the kids, or the age.
"Phillip, please cancel my 4:15. I made a boom-boom in my Armani."

Greg, we need to talk.

The reality is that it's clearly a combination of all three of these, as well as several others that I haven't thought of.  The cause is only important since it will help me to identify a solution more quickly.  I'm getting frustrated and that frustration is feeding into a cycle.

The first quarter ends on Wednesday, so I need to figure it out soon.

1 comment:

  1. I feel as though you are in my head. It perfectly sums up my current predicament, only I have been in my school district for seven years. I have had new administration the last three years, have had new classes, now with 8th graders after acclimating myself to 11th and 12th four six years.

    I have felt a consistent struggle the past three years between sticking to my principles about what I believe is right or capitulating to the demands of the current evaluation system and be a shell of the teacher I was. I know that struggle spills into my classroom and it makes me hate myself.


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