Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ms. Gray lays down the law!

Teaching is a very humbling profession. It is humbling because it forces one to look at the problems in the classroom and see how your lack of discipline, clear instructions, preparation, etc... may be the ultimate cause of your students' misbehavior. I learned this the hard way with my 6th grade class. I realized, looking back at the last few weeks, that I definitely was a bit lax with this class and they completely took advantage of me. When I say take advantage, I am not saying that I had no control whatsoever, they just really struggled with paying attention and there was continually chatter throughout the classroom. 

It is so easy, as a teacher, to blame the students' lack of attention, success, or understanding on the students, but it is usually a mutual problem between teacher and students, or it is the teacher's lack of clear directions and motivation. This being said, it was a mutual problem between the students and I. They were purposefully taking advantage of the "new and young teacher" and I was not strict enough with them from the beginning. 

So, this Wednesday, it all changed!.... well kinda. The kids walked into Ms. Gray's class and saw assigned seats on the board, so of course the expected grumbling began. So, I talked to them a bit about how it was choices that they were making in the class that resulted in assigned seats. I talked to them about how it is now up to them whether they are privileged with fun interactive activities, or less fun/ more academic and simple activities in class. I finally felt like they were truly listening to me and seeing me as an authority figure. 

The exciting result of this lecture was that the 6th graders FINALLY received a sticker and they had fun in music. (They were singing the song that they learned in their classroom- Jeannie, the 6th grade teacher told me that "Hello Ma Baby" was stuck in her head now!) I can't remember if I already explained this... but my rewards system is a sticker chart where they receive a sticker when I do not have to give any warnings- warnings which are in the form of a "sad face" on the board, if they receive 3 stickers then they get to learn a fun fact about Ms. Gray. My first fun fact is that I am Left handed, it is amazing how many kids had not realized that lol :) 

The lesson that I taught them on Wed. was a lesson on Ragtime and near the end of the class, they all had a chance to play the PIANO! ( I am convinced that there is a light emanating from the piano, the kids were SO EXCITED to have the opportunity to play the simple bass line, it was wonderful!) 

So, all in all, it was a wonderful class and I beginning to really enjoy this class, as long as my expectations are ridiculously clear and my lessons are always incredibly well planned and, at least for now, they are in assigned seats. 

It was so good for me to have to "law down the law", because it is not natural for me to confront anyone, so it was a good growing experience (as I am sure this entire year will certainly be!)  

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