Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Survival of the Fittest Teacher

I will officially consider today the most challenging day of my student teaching experience!!! I was so flabbergasted by the behavior of my students that I am STILL at a loss for words! Where do I even begin???????

I started to write about all of the things that went wrong today but I am not going to do that. I have vowed to try to be as constructive as possible and I want that to continue. Please know, however, that I have done my fair share of venting today, so I am not keeping everything bottled up, only to explode soon after! So no, my students did not follow directions today, nor did they respect each other, do their homework, or walk quietly in the hallway. But, at the end of the day, I love them to the moon and still want only the best for them. So, objectively looking at the chaos that was my day today, I feel like I did contribute to some of the madness. I believe that even though students are responsible for the behavior, teachers can contribute to problems in the classroom by having a short fuse, not implementing immediate consequences to poor behaviors, antagonizing students who need to be left alone because you want them to cooperate on your clock, and the list most certainly goes on. Below are the things that I want to work on to maintain more control of the classroom, respect student space and needs, and maximize the time spent learning:

- Don’t argue with students…..poor behaviors=negative consequences…end of story. I feel like I spent way too much time today arguing with students about whether or not they were actually doing what I “accused” them of doing. Assuming students understand expectations and resulting consequences, there is no need to debate whether or not it was fair or why they are in trouble and “Billy” isn’t.
- Praise those students who are taking care of business. Today, especially, I know these students were overlooked because so much time was spent dealing with the students who behaved poorly. I do not want to help create an atmosphere that inadvertently puts value and attention on inappropriate behaviors that are in no way deserving of it.
- One thing that I want to CONTINUE doing is discussing the day’s behavior with students. When there has been an issue with behavior, I always try to talk to the students about what I observed and ask them to tell me what contributed to their unacceptable behavior today. I focus on positive behaviors that I have seen in the past and want to see every day instead of the negatives ones. Most students are usually receptive to this and seem to appreciate that I want to understand why their behavior changed instead of just judging them as “being bad”. There are a couple of strong-willed students who refuse to talk to me and/or get very defensive during this time , so I have learned to wait until they cool down and are ready for a constructive dialogue.

At the end of the day, I can say I survived the most challenging day yet!! I am glad this day is over with and am ready to get back in there and start fresh. New day = new start. I can’t lie though, I am so happy that I have my methods courses ALL DAY tomorrow (never thought I’d say that). A break from the kiddos gets no complaints from me! I will see them for a few hours at the after-school program, but that will be a breeze!! Oh wow, and Friday is a school improvement day so no kiddos then either….I might just miss them by the time Monday gets here!!


  1. The important thing to remember is that ALL teachers have that kind of day...whether you are student teaching, a first year teacher, or a skilled teacher that has been at it for years, there are always days when everything seems to go wrong or everything is overwhelming.

    I really commend that you are able to objectively look at the situation and think about what your role is and what you can do to make it better or help the kids more. SO many teachers would just blame the kids and say they are horrible, it's all their fault. You have a really good mindset to focus on what you would like to change about your own teaching etc.

    I am sure having this blog is a great way for you to reflect and keep thinking critically about all of these fun little situations that pop up.


  2. If I read correctly, you're student teaching in a 5th grade classroom, correct? I had many days like that with my 5th graders, with my 2nd graders as well.... but as stated, it's not only their fault, you're still learning, we're all still learning. With time, those days will get much better. And yes, at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you'll still love your students. :)

  3. Children are not always respectful. Classes can get out of control. Are your disrespectful children considered the leaders in the class? When I feel frustrated with behavior I set them down at the earliest convenience and be candid about your concern. Address the changes you would like to see and at the end of the day tell them what you saw that you liked. You seem to have a great attitude and have high expectations of your students. Keep up the good work. These problems never go away. Sorry

  4. Like everyone says, you learn from your mistakes. I like how you reflect on your day and come up with things to work on for the future. Not arguing with rowdy kids and praising the good kids can be hard. I will keep these ideas in mind for my future teaching. Good Luck with your students!

  5. My last school had a great behavior incentive where all teachers handed out an "Awesome Acorn" when they saw a student doing the right thing. The students wrote their name on the back, and all Awesome Acorn slips went into a big bin. Prizewinners were drawn from the whole school's bin, but you could do this with your class, too! It was a tangible and simple way to reward the students who are doing the right thing and motivate some of the students who weren't. No motivational tool works for every student, though; keep trying, but try not to get too frustrated!