I’ve started to think of classroom management as something like riding a bucking bronco. (If I were a great teacher it would be more like riding a well-trained pony, but clearly we are NOT there yet.) Sometimes I just have to brace myself, walk into the classroom, and just hold on tight through all the crazy things the kids do. If I’m still there at the end of the period, I win. If there ever comes a day that I run out crying, I lose.
Granted, my standards for a “good day” are definitely lower than they once were. (If my posts look sunnier than they used to, this is possibly why.) If I just handle everything that happens, I count that as a success. When the kids beat me at something, I lose. Much of this mentality comes from the fact that management is very all-or-nothing with my kids. If one kid gets away with something, the rest of them will go crazy for the rest of the period. If everyone gets consequences for every wrong move, they will settle down. (This means that it’s worth it to invest 5 minutes of my time convincing a kid that he MUST move to his assigned seat, even though it might not seem like a battle worth fighting.) Some day, I hope to be at the point where all that stuff doesn’t happen in the first place, but I’m obviously in no place to be a perfectionist right now.