Year 4: Exorcising my Year 1 Demons
At least, if today is a sign and my class of 30 is another sign, the title of my post couldn’t be more accurate.
The last two days have been a little bit more rough. I was told by the teachers of my students the year before that the students are a bit “dense”, meaning it takes them a bit more time to understand and for the light bulbs in their collective heads to go on. A more accurate description has never been used.
This goes directly into classroom management and basic listening. Basic instructions being repeated over and over again. Reprimanding inappropriate behavior. Dealing with more immature behavior and a lack of common sense. I’ve dealt with all of this in the past, but this year, all of this and more has clustered up within the first week and a half of school. I do blame some of this on a lack of routine and setting up those routines, but still.
Today, towards the end of the day, I dealt with one particular behavior that heavily derailed me once during my first year: laughing behind my back.
This happened after an extremely poorly-motivated new student to my school asked to sharpen his pencil. While I was sharpening his pencil (to speed up his time to copy the homework), my entire class erupted to tell me that new child was laughing at me and didn’t stop, even as my class was telling him to stop.
Naturally, I was upset and my co-teacher spoke to the father, who only spoke Spanish, about the incident. The boy was embarrassed and that was that.
Combine that with the fact that as I was bringing my class downstairs, I felt a wad of spit from the fifth-grade class hit me in my right arm. Granted, I can almost guarantee the spit was done without thought or on a dare, but not directly at me, but still, being laughed at and spit at? When did I walk onto the set of a typical “Freedom Writers”/”Dangerous Minds” movie but with elementary school students?
In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. I was saying “Lord, have mercy” after the spitting incident, but I got through it. My class letting me know what happened was endearing. Most of them like me as a teacher, they just don’t know how to collectively listen… yet. But they will. A new haircut and Cosi really helped me calm down.
I think that is the biggest difference between how I handled situations as a 21-year-old first year teacher and a now 24-year-old fourth year teacher: how to handle tough situations and the next steps for the class and for myself.
My first year, I froze and didn’t know how to handle it. I beat myself up for it and dreaded coming back to my students. This happened in the middle of the year too, which took a hit to my self confidence.
This year? I attribute the situation to the student and his inability to react to classroom situations appropriately as an eight-year-old. With a couple more weeks, he should be able to be accustomed to the way things are done in my and my co-teacher’s classroom and be able to react better in social situations. A new school along with a more immature mindset than his fellow classmates equals a hard combination for him to adjust to. With conversations with his parents and a strict but understanding approach by both of us, he should be able to adjust better.
And the spit? The fifth grade teacher will address it, but either way, it’s more funny in hindsight.
And dread? Ha. I’m actually excited to go back to school tomorrow.
A new day, new attitude, and time to take what happened and turn it to what I want it to be… because I control what happens in my classroom. It’s fun to be a problem-solver and to figure things out as I go. Now, unless my first year, I’m comfortable doing so: thinking on my feet and solving concerns.
These kids don’t know who they are messing with.
Tomorrow’s just another day.