Day 10: Yesterday was my first real challenge at school this year. And it’s a very different sort of challenge from those I faced last year. Last year, I used to laugh when friends of older students discussed the necessity of poking their students with sticks to keep them alert during class. The last thing my students needed was something to rile them up; the large majority of the time, it was all I could do to calm students down enough to foster a relatively calm and productive space. Sixth graders pose a challenging combination of still-a-kid rambunctiousness with now-an-adolescent chattiness and drama – not exactly a low-energy situation.
But yesterday after lunch, I saw a most distinct case of blah in my classroom. Hands supporting heads, students melting down onto the desks. I did my best to SLANT them up to respectable positions, but more often than not, I fought a losing battle. Since I generally refused to move forward until everyone looked the part of an alert and professional student, I probably spent about five minutes just trying to get everyone looking like they were ready to learn.
Yes, this is a universal post-lunch problem. But given that I teach every day after lunch, I need a solution. When I think back on my challenges from last year, all of them gave me the knowledge I needed to be better the next time, even if the learning was painful in the moment. I liken this situation to a baseball player coming up through the minor leagues. Last year, I got stuck in AA for a while, trying my best to hit the curve … where “the curve” is high energy chattiness.
Now I’m in AAA. School has been going well; I’m one step shy of the majors. For me to take the next step, I need to learn to hit the slider. And “the slider” is motivating some low-energy kids with lessons that energize and engage.