Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Self Fulfilling Prophecy? and A Tale of Two Classes

Things are still just rosy. I think I want to adopt all the kids in my class. I think I want to loop with them to twelfth grade--and beyond. Honestly, they are just making my job an absolute joy this year. I can't wait to see them in the morning and I am sad to see them go.

It's not that there aren't any tough kids to handle. I have a girl who speaks no English and has no reading or phonics knowledge. I have one who is a real pouter (at least, an attempted pouter, he does seem to give up when he realizes it's not getting him anywhere). Later, when I write about him, he'll be Eyore. It's just that overall, this group wants to please and is compliant. If I could pick one word to describe my class this year it would be amiable. They just gel with me perfectly.

So, here's the thing, how can you ever tell how much of them being awesome is because I think they're awesome? I find myself wanting to do more fun stuff than I ever did last year, and I am no longer staring at the clock. The hours seem to fly by. Looking back, if I could describe my class last year with one word it would be explosive. They made every minute of the day a challenge for me. Obviously, there are some fundamental differences in the make up of the students, however, the teacher's perception is a huge factor too. If I could be one of those people who put myself in the state of mind that there are no difficult classes and thought they were so much fun, would they have been more fun.

A part of me protests. I think, I tried to think positively. They just kept on throwing punches, having angry tantrums, bullying, etc etc and reminding me why it wasn't that fun to be always in charge of them. The other part of me says, "look at yourself, and understand, how to enjoy a group like that."

This year is going to be an experiment in how far a group of students can go when my time and energy is not monopolized by BIG in-your-face Behavior-with-a-capitol-"B" issues. For me, I think it will be a lot easier and a lot of fun. However, I have to realize, that baring me packing my bags and teaching in a totally different setting, I will have more groups like the one last year. My school just has a lot of challenging circumstances and we deal with kids who face crazy issues at home, and when they, for whatever reason, are unable to handle it, the issues come to school.

Last year, when I had a difficult class to teach, I did learn about how to teach better. When what you can apply to 90% of the population in general is true for only 60% of your class, you learn to do better for the 40%. When you go back to a 90-10 split, you know better how to help the 10%. This year, I find I am easily reaching my low kids and my behaviors because I had to use these strategies for so much of my class last year. This year, with a good class, I am soaking it up, but I am trying to learn a different lesson. I am trying to make a benchmark out of how I feel.

Here's what I mean:
--When I have this group that is fun for me, I feel happy to see them every day.
--When I have this group, I want to do fun things.
--When I have this group, I laugh a lot and see the humor throughout the day.
--When I have this group, I keep telling them how pleased I am.

So, if this is my benchmark, what can I do when they send me another chair thrower or another adhdhdhdhdhd or another group of girl bullies, or, more likely, all of these at once? The answer is I have to reflect back the same thing I naturally reflect back to this group I have now. Hopefully, if I do that, and do it well, then it can more positively impact a difficult group.


Jen said...

I don't know -- obviously you didn't go into this year thinking that these kids would be fabulous -- you were amazed by it!

Having a good attitude is great, imperative really, for getting up every day and going in to teach! But it's dangerous to your mental health to think that it's *mostly* your own mindset that affects the class (assuming you aren't a crazy, mercurial person!)

Take a reasonable amount of responsibility and a reasonable amount of credit and you'll be good whether it's a class of high percentage big B behavior or a group that works together easily!

Jen said...

Oh my. I haven't even finished a cup of caffeinated tea yet and every sentence there has an exclamation. Should have proofread!