Ugh. I gave my first test today. It did not go well.
Behavior-wise, most of my classes were great. And score-wise, some of my kids even did pretty well.
But then came Period 3. I’ve felt like I was winning in that class, and so they took today to remind me that they’re not backing down yet. Two kids just joined my class, so I sent them to the back table so I could teach them while the other students took the test. Too bad I NEVER made it back to them. I literally could not turn my back on the class for more than a second or they were talking, cheating, and overall being disorderly. They even started a massively annoying clucking rebellion, where a bunch of kids all started making a clucking noise with their tongues. I didn’t even bother acknowledging it because I knew there was no way I could ever catch the students doing it. They were just trying to rile me up, and so at least I didn’t let them, but I felt like there was an uprising happening.
Then right after my test ended, someone came on the loudspeaker to announce a lockdown. This means the lights go off, the door gets locked, windows get covered, and the kids all get down on the floor and sit silently. No one had warned me a drill was coming, so we had to take it seriously. The kids have done it a million times (I haven’t!) and should’ve known what to do. Instead, it was chaos. They wouldn’t sit on the floor. They wouldn’t shut up. They banged their elbows against the wall in a way that I couldn’t hear but got the teacher next door to come in and yell at them afterwards. I gave out more detentions than I can probably manage… to every kid I caught talking, and I definitely didn’t even get to all of them.
I was so angry and embarrassed and frustrated that I made them sit silently the rest of the period while I gave the ultimate in adult-cliche-I’m-so-embarrassed-at-your-three-year-old-behavior talks. I told them I was mortified by their behavior. I warned them that if they made me hate my job, I’d make them miserable too. I told them we could practice behaving instead of doing math, but that would only hurt their futures (and my career too probably, but I didn’t say that). I reminded them of my promise that if they put in the work, I’d make them good at math, and told them that this was not the way to make it happen. I opened up the floor to anyone who had a problem with what I was asking or lacked the ability to be quiet and needed help. I don’t know if they were out of energy from their last hour of misbehavior or if they were finally cowed into silence, but they were the quietest they’ve ever been. I at least got three students to tell me they need to be separated from the group if they’re going to behave, and one girl fessed up to breaking my pencils and stealing the eraser halves. Is that a win at all? I still desperately wanted them out of my classroom.
Then my last period replaced them. They sat down, got to work, and took the test so silently that I got to sit at my desk and get work done. Unbelievable. We played a math game as a group after. I love them. And I might not be a total, complete and utter failure as a teacher.
But before I feel too good about myself, I got around to grading my tests. Overall average is looking like it’s about a 67. Bad news, for my kids as mathematicians and especially for me as a teacher.
On the bright side, five of my kids stayed after school for more than an hour… just to hang out with me. One brought his little brother. We played music and they helped me around the classroom. Too bad I just decided that I don’t care if the kids like me, I just want them to learn math. Five like me and most aren’t learning math. Fail.