the ferrous wheel

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 15 2008

Third period…

…Needs work. Seriously.

Today I actually had them sitting quietly, taking notes for a full 20 minutes. It was ah-mazing. But then I gave them their progress reports at the end of class, without prefacing it the right way (I should’ve said more about how I was grading on participation, and how if they are missing just one assignment it makes their grade plummet because it’s only been two weeks). I had two students storm out of my classroom before the bell rang – and they are not allowed to be in the hallway without permission, so they were caught by an administrator and, I think, written up. They came back to my class, but that was totally unacceptable.

The rest of my class grumbled and whined and then refused to speak to me after class when I told them they could talk to me individually to make up missed work/talk about why their participation grades are horrible. They just don’t get it. Participating isn’t just answering questions, it is also behavior, i.e. not throwing racial slurs at me (NO, I don’t do karate! NO, I don’t eat cats! WHY ARE YOU SO IGNORANT?), not shouting profanity across the room at another student, actually looking at me and responding when I come over to speak to you instead of ignoring me and continuing your conversation.

Oh. My. God.

I leave third period every day pent up with annoyance. I’m trying not to hold a grudge, trying to come into each day with a new attitude, but instead I find myself going into that class tense and unhappy. It shows in my teaching. All of the strategies I learned at Institute, all of the things I know I should be doing to inspire my students and create a good classroom culture, are going out the window because I don’t know how to manage them. I hate it, and I need them to shape up.

Tomorrow, I need to have a talk with them about how I care about their grades, and how it is unacceptable that half of my class is failing (at my school, less than 80% is a failing grade), but how it is entirely possible that each and every one of them passes by the end of the year. Now how do I do this if they are all coming into class angry at me?

This is going to be a long week.

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    teaching kids to love science

    D.C. Region
    High School

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