My Period 3 goes through cycles of being great and being terrible. Last week, they were so great that three people who came into my classroom complimented them to me. We were doing group work and doing it well, and I was so proud of them. Now it’s a new week, and they’ve been getting progressively worse again. I know it’s going to be cyclical like this all year, but that doesn’t make the bad times any better.
On their bad days, they chat nonstop. I can get them quiet for a second right when I ask for it, but a moment later they will all be talking again. Many of them aren’t prepared for class. Many make little effort to pay attention to what I’m saying, so even the simplest assignment becomes completely impossible for them. Getting really angry at them only makes them retaliate against me, so I always have to find some way to manipulate them back to being good. But it’s so hard not to just scream at them. Yesterday they were truly obnoxious through a simple lesson, and everything in me wanted to just stop bothering to try to teach them, since so few kids were listening or caring. I literally had to pause and mentally convince myself that there are better days ahead, my good kids were listening, and I could not give up on a whole group of students. Today went pretty much the same way. It’s exhausting and it’s such a disappointment after how good they’ve been. But it will get better. It always does. (Then it will get worse again.)
Luckily, my last class of the day is a joy to teach. My frustration with Period 3 actually motivated me to enjoy my job with Period 4. Twenty minutes into class I scrapped my planned lesson and improvised a new one, which taught them the same thing only had them figuring it out themselves, with markers and competition. It went so well… they had fun, won candy, and learned it better than they would have the other way. I can’t get Period 3 to participate enough to make that work, but this class is so phenomenal. I’m so glad I end my day with them… it makes it a lot easier to hold my head up leaving school and come back the next day.
Also, a parent came in today and met with administration to ask that his daughter be put back into my class (they moved her to the new teacher). They said she had been learning a lot in my class and wasn’t being pushed hard enough in her new class. I love this student, so I was thrilled that her dad did that for her. Obviously administration listened and gave her back to me Win.