Hello hello! I'm officially on the other side of my first week of teaching and although a nap probably wouldn't be amiss, I thought I would reflect on my past week during the afternoon lull around home. We started school last Thursday, celebrating with a Mass and a half-day, followed by a Friday test-run of sorts for the logic school scholars who needed to practice getting to and from their classes with the bell schedule.
When Monday rolled around, we were already to begin working! The theme of the week was rules, expectations, and procedures. And although I did not understand why those were so critical on our first Thursday, I am just now beginning to see the fruits of other, more seasoned teachers labors. Although many are bored by the end of it, practice really does make perfect and by Friday, each of periods were coming in quietly, settling down, and starting on their morning or afternoon work (similar to a bell ringer or a to do). These quiet activities set the tone for the class period, keeping them busy from bell to bell.
I have to admit by Thursday, my yoga routine had me going over and over in my head what was going wrong with my homeroom. Nothing had really gone wrong but they weren't being their best. And although I started the week with the intention of not being their friend, I realized mid shavasana that I was still being too nice. My homeroom scholars needed the bar raised even higher and no wiggle room. They were just too young for the approach I had originally started with. On Friday morning, I started my day with a prayer intention that I could rediscover the no-nonsense camp director I had buried two years ago. God heard my plea for the grace to be what they needed me to be, and let me tell you, Friday was a much better day.
The difference? I didn't allow space for them to mess up. There was no time for them between assignments, columns and rows were dismissed to do certain jobs; I effectively removed the temptation and created a different environment that demanded a different behavior.
I realize now that the old adage, "don't smile at them before Christmas" came with a nugget of wisdom: start with high demands and a tight leash to see what your scholars can handle. Don't immediately give them the mile, start with an inch.
I think the most important thing I've learned thus far is how critical those routines are and how much the lack of one can throw everyone off. A rainy Thursday showed me just how badly we needed to establish other routines they could rely on when things got crazy.
Procedure. Procedure. Procedure.
But as I drove home yesterday, I was filled with an immense satisfaction. It was a job well done this week. It wasn't perfect. There were a few bumps in the road. But my Free Read Friday was a success and you had better believe that those scholars are going to better readers and writers come May 2019 if Mrs. Wood has anything to say about it.
First year Catholic educator in the Classical curriculum style. I teach middle school English-Language Arts.