The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 14 2013

Not Giving Up Yet

Day 152: My homeroom has been, on the whole, trending downward for months. They enter classrooms like they’re entering a party. They fail, consistently, to quiet down when asked. They throw balls around the room like it’s recess.

For a while now, I’ve been letting a lot slide. Science class is going well, and giving certain students space to be silly has helped to mend a few relationships. However, today, things came to a head. The principal made roughly five attempts to get my class to stop talking over the loudspeaker. I was trying to quiet the class down as well, to no avail – too much talking and moving and basketball bouncing.

Eventually, the principal came in to visit. She informed the class that this was unacceptable behavior. She let myself and my homeroom partner know the class had struggled with professionalism on Friday as well, in art class. She let my homeroom know that if the trend continued, certain privileges, like going on the end-of-year hike, would be lost.

Like I said, for weeks now, I’ve been trying to let more slide. I’ve been doing this not because I lacked the energy or will to enforce tough rules, but because I was trying to adapt my style and approach to the specific group of kids. Today changed my thinking. I felt legitimately embarrassed. I pride myself on my control of my classroom, and today made plain that my students are not acting as respectful leaders and role models. That must change.

I recently told a bunch of first-year corps members that my greatest accomplishment was my ability to reflect, preserve what was working, and fix the rest. Well, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Tomorrow, I have a plan for morning homeroom. We’re going to enter silently. We’re going to reflect on what we want next year’s teachers and administrators to say about us. And we’re going to re-commit to a focused finish to the sixth grade.

Will this work? Who knows. I But I’m not ending the year without trying my best.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher


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