Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Something happened today that was one of the most hilarious yet saddening events of my life!! In the afterschool program, the other student teacher and I had devised a plan for splitting up the rather large group of students. I think I spoke to this in a previous post, but for whatever reason, the students never want to be in my room. I honestly think it is because of my no-nonsense approach to classroom management. If you are doing what you should be doing, we will have the best time, but if you are not it won’t be that way at all. If you can’t show me that you can handle the responsibility that comes with being a 5th grader, than you cannot enjoy the things that responsible and respectful 5th graders enjoy.

Back to the story…so we came up with a plan so that the students that were with me one week would rotate to Miss S’s room and her students would then rotate to my room. We put them on a 1 week rotation so we wouldn’t have to worry about students asking us everyday if they could be in her room; everyone would get there chance.

Well today was the day that our classes were supposed to rotate. Before we left to go down to the classrooms, the coordinator of the program came to us with a “revised” class list that he created. He wanted to split certain students up and also to put an end to the ingenious rotation plan we created. As soon as he said that, Miss. S and I knew that this was going to get real ugly!!! So we had my CT, who also works in the program, announce the changes. We didn’t want to have anything to do with it! She is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of lady, so she wasn’t to concerned about their reactions. She called one group of students, the ones that would be in my classroom to line up at the door. Then she struck the knock-out blow….she told them they would all be in MY classroom!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! You would’ve thought they found out they were being shipped to the moon! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such long faces before in my life!! So while the students in my room were in deep mourning, the students in Miss. S’s room were having the celebration of their lives. They were bragging to my kids like they just swept the opposing team in the NCAA Championships!! INCREDIBLE!!! This was hilarious, but I’m not gonna lie, I felt kind of sad too! The reaction that these kids had to being in my classroom; the huffing, puffing, and stomping down the hallway along with comments like “I don’t want to be in your room”, “Man, I’m not coming back to this program if I have to be with her!!” in addition to a few tears, really made me feel bad. I have never said a mean or cruel word to these students, so to hear these comments dished to me, I was hurt.

I have high expectations for my students…end of story. I wish they didn’t dread being in my room, but it is what it is. They know that when they come into my room, though, that I am totally committed to making sure they understand the content, become more responsible and are socially and emotionally well. If this happens to exclude them liking me, oh well. It has really taken me 7 weeks to utter those words and actually mean it. I still get sad when I hear the discontent some feel, but at the end of the day, I know that I my goal is to give them what they need. Their words may hurt sometimes, but as long as they don’t start throwing sticks and stones at me, I’ll be good!


  1. Hey lady,

    I think that there should definitely be a balance between having high expectations, yet also being likable at the same time. Of course it is very important to have high expectations, but not at the cost of having students not want to be in the same room with you. My guess is that there was some age induced drama influencing this situation, so their "reactions" may not even reflect how they truly feel about you, however, it's important to think critically about it to ensure that their attitude is not a roadblock to their learning. Are they learning from you? Are they motivated in your presence? Or is the "attitude" you spoke about interfering with your instruction??

    It is really important to show them you care, not only by having high expectations, but also being a teacher who is approachable and friendly. Having high expectations and being nice are not mutually exclusive. As a student teacher, or any new teacher, it is definitely hard because students know how to, and will take advantage, if you are TOO nice, but it's also important to connect with students and help them find meaning and excitement in the material being taught. If there is some sort of wall between you and them because they are perceiving you in a certain way, ultimately that breaks down the level of success you will be able to achieve with them.

    Not meaning at all to sound preachy...just thinking about this dilemma as if it were my own situation. How do the students work once they are with you? I have a third grader who gives me MAJOR eye rolls when he has to come work with me, but once we get started our repertoire is totally fine.

    It is good that you are not taking this personally because teachers are not liked by everyone and it's not like we go into the profession to make more friends, BUT I would want to analyze the situation a little more because the goal, (as least mine) would be to have the best of both worlds with high expectations and the enthusiasm of the kids to work with me.


  2. Thanks Katie for helping me to reflect even more! When I am working with my students in my classroom during the day, I really don't have any problems with the kids, I get the occasional 5th attitude, but nothing big. I don't have anyone refusing to work with me or anything like that. I think what it boils down to is not that I am not friendly, but rather that they like the "newness" that comes with being with the other student teacher. I think I've said it before but the kids really do like being with her because they can "get away" with more.

    After re-reading my post, I feel like I was blowing off some steam. I by no means was implying that I'm okay with being the teacher that no one likes. I understand how important it is to connect with students on a more personal level. I want them to enjoy their time with me and vice versa.

    I have mentioned it before, but of the group of students that I have, 14 of 18 of them were put into my class because they thought my CT was the only one who could handle them. With this being said, I know there are already pre-packaged challenges that came with this situation. In spite of the challenges, I know that I have a great group of kids!! I know we all can work together to make this the best year ever and I am re-energized and re-focused to do just that!! Yay for new starts each day!

  3. Just one of those days...we all have 'em. I can definitely relate to blowing off steam and venting about situations that make you feel happy/mad/sad/upset/defeated/joyful etc. Like I said, I didn't want to sound preachy, I don't have all the answers, just trying to help you think it through.

    I think it is better to start strict and then have the luxury of easing up once you get the feel for things, but you can never do the reverse. If you are too easy from the start, you can't all of a sudden get strict, which is a problem the other student teacher might run into.

    From everything you post about, it sounds like you are doing a great job, but you know us teachers, we always like to talk shop and analyze everything!

    Keep working hard!