Tag Archives: disruptions

Challenging Students or Challenging Environment

Challenging Students or Challenging Environment

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Even in my own head my most recent post(s) come off as a misrepresentation of what I’m really experiencing this year as a 2nd year teacher and graduate student. By no means have things been easy and just fallen into place properly. If anything I’ve felt as though I have to deal with a lot more chaos than I did at the beginning of last year. However, I’ve been managing it with more laughter and matter of factness, at least in my own head.

This year, I’m working with a lot more freshman students, which is great because its helping me build relationships with the new members of the student body. The freshman class is more independent than previous classes we’ve brought into the school. They seem to be able to work better on their own, and to date haven’t given much pushback when we give them homework or require them to step up to the plate with their work. This has been surprising, but also pretty frustrating when trying to figure out how to bring the same sense of responsibility to our sophomore and junior classes at the school. I’m not quite sure what we can do to bridge the gap for them, but, that will be part of my job next marking period as I work with some of our junior students in the new Post Graduate Prep Elective.

This year’s freshman have been a great social experiment for me. I’ve really been able to push myself and them beyond what I thought I was able to do last year, and with a lot more natural appeal. Had you asked me last year if I was myself in the classroom or some character I presented, I would have answered that I was definitely my genuine self. However, the freshman this year seem to have brought a more relaxed and authentic version of myself into the classrooms as a teacher and my graduate classes as a student. They’ve also helped me realize that no single experience in the classroom starts and ends in that classroom. We live in a world that is constantly pulling and growing on things that have happened previously in all of our lives.

Some of the challenging situations I’ve had to maneuver this year have oddly enough all come from the same classroom. In one class of approximately 20 students on the roster my co-teacher and I have –

  • A) a student who functionally can’t read (well)
  • B) a student who for lack of a better term has extreme mood swings within one period
  • C) a student that has the energy and attitude of a tazmanian devil
  • D) a student that just so happens to be the son of my barber – which has made subsequent management very difficult do to the inherent conflict of interest.

Dealing with these students in the same classroom has been… interesting. Interesting by the way is my new buzzword for, a fucking mess. I will say though that although these students have kept me on my toes I do feel a genuine love and responsibility to look out for their security, growth, and comfort inside and outside of my classrooms.

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A few weeks ago, students B and C, who by themselves have the power to completely derail a productive classroom environment came into class and performed the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance. For those of you that don’t know it’s a dance performed by particular characters in the popular anime series that allows them to combine forces, strength, and minds to fight stronger enemies. So far this is probably the single most hilarious memory I’ve had as a teacher. I’ve included a quick video showing the fusion process below, and yes the students literally did this in the middle of class, in unison, together. I died a little inside from shear amazement that they even knew of the fusion dance, and second that they were essentially saying in code that they were combining to wreck havoc together.

Ironically, I actually think both students were able to focus and get a decent amount of work done this day. However, I was taken aback by their seemingly freudian slip. I think subconsciously their act was an admission that they both understood that they had the power to derail the class if they chose to. The whole class period I moved in a semi-state of shock, like what the hell have we gotten ourselves into.

Of course, fate decided that I would be in charge of both student’s IEP meetings. Both meetings brought surprises and challenges never experienced before. One student’s IEP is still yet to be drafted… yet another thing I have to complete this weekend… supposedly. One thing I love about my position as a teacher is being able to connect with my students on a simpler level than their educator. In both meetings with the students, I mentioned the fusion process that I saw in class, and how I was shocked that they even knew what that was. It served as a door opener to students who can be particularly difficult to connect with when not in the mood. Even weeks later I still can’t quite get over having two Super Saiyan students who understand their power to support and disrupt a classes progress singularly and even more-so together.

To tie this back to my initial statement, clearly these students both saw the fusion process years ago at home, and brought the idea into the classroom to really just have a good time and share laughs together. I know I haven’t watched Dragon Ball Z in probably over 5 years, and its been a lot longer since I heard of fusion. In the end, I let both students know that their fusion was hilarious, and I respect them for comedically bringing it into the class. I actually think the three of us are the only ones who caught it in the moment and haven’t forgotten it. However, I’ve already put my co-teacher on game, and let the students know that any further fusion activities will be met with equal force from my co-teacher and I.

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We laughed… and to this day they have continued to be lovely difficult students to manage in the class.

It physically hurts to come back from a 4-day weekend.

One of the things I know is that I have a very specific frame at which I engage the world. This includes my work as a teacher, student, friend, brother, son, etc… Basically the way I view life, and in particular my life, and the standards and rules I ethics I choose to live my life by. I worry that sometimes I’m so tuned in to my own frequency that I’m missing something out there that other people see, feel, or think.  Because of that, I find myself feeling uneasy a lot of times – like this time, right here. Wondering, if there is something that perhaps I’m not seeing that really needs my attention.

I’m more so thinking about at my high school. There just always seems to be so many questions that I don’t have the faintest clue to ask. Its actually pretty annoying and it pisses me off when I don’t automatically know something.

I think I’m going to ask my co-teachers if there is anything else they feel I can be doing to support and lead in the classroom.

Wait, I actually just thought of something. I’m going to make a deal with my Just Words class this cycle. (I don’t know if I’ve explained this yet. But my school is run on trimesters. Each trimester is referred to as a cycle.) Something like, the more they engage, and show involvement in the curriculum, the faster we can go – The faster we can go, the more time we’ll have for games, and activities. Maybe eventually a project or field trip. I don’t think I could handle the stress of that this first try though.

I think my class really rocks with me. They’re behavior is on point… Like… literally no disruptions ever LoL. But lets face it half of them are tuned out. Or at least don’t participate in the vocal parts of the curriculum. I’m going to cut off that back row, no more sitting back there. And I’m gonna scoop Jenga in a few days so they can have something fun (hopefully) while I catch the others up on their assessments. I HAVE TO figure out how to work better with that curriculum. Its seems like 90 different materials, half of which the students don’t have. So I have to make copies. Which is crazy because sometimes they want you to copy like 10 page chunks just so the kids can review. That curriculum is ridiculous. And you have me delivering it so you know its a complete fool.

That poor class. I feel so bad for them. They have to put up with me, a looney 1st-year teacher, destroying this reading curriculum that may well be their last chance to learn how to read. I think they rock with me because they know I care about helping them read, and I’m there to do as good of a job I can for them and for me!

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Today, I had to apologize to my Just Words class. Somehow I had forgotten to take their heavy ass manual home with me over the weekend. I was really upset with myself when it hit me. I told them that I fully meant to prepare for class this weekend, and was upset with myself when I realized I had forgotten their manual. I would do my best to get through todays lesson, and give them free time. We ended class with me doing a Plus/Delta session. Plus, whats going well. Delta, what’s not going well. Needless to say I wasn’t shocked that I put all the positives and they put all the negatives. Besides the candy I brought, they put that as their only positive.