Friday, September 15, 2006

I Just Told Them

We had a class meeting. We talked about 'peace building' and what we need to do to make our classroom a better learning environment. I reminded kids how much potential they had and that I moved here to teach them.
Then, one by one I pulled them out of the classroom to tell them what I couldn't figure out how to show them - that I care about their future too much to let them continue down this path.
Some of them bought it. Some didn't. They will eventually because it's not a line - it's the truth.
Today was our only good day all week but it came at the right time. They left with smiles on their faces and fought over who would hold my hand and I was reminded that some of my babies are still.....babies....even at 13.
I also broke the no smiling until November rule today. Not that I hadn't smiled until today, but today I laughed - let my guard down and enjoyed moments with my kids without worrying about 'asserting my authority'.
We played a vocab review game during science today because our enrichment teacher spent his 45 minute period telling my kids they had failed their quiz because they were stupid and not going anywhere. Actually Mr. Bad Teacher, they failed because you have them copy definitions and give them no time to explore or LEARN them.
So today we played a game - Jeopardy with ecosystem vocab. It took 15 minutes to play and 50 minutes to plan but they LOVED it. My toughest kid, the one who hides in closets, kept getting answer after answer right. I couldn't believe it. Neither could he.
"I'm smart! I'm smart!" he said as he jumped up and down after each answer.
I wanted to hug him and say YES YOU ARE - hello! I tell you that all the time!
But today he came to the conclusion on his own and it was so fun to watch that I couldn't help but forget the fact that he was not raising his hand before he spoke and that he was not sitting in his chair.
Learning is happening in my classroom, damnit.
There may be fights and disrespect and disabilities I have not yet learned to work with but my kids are LEARNING.
At the end of the day that has to count for something, right?

2 comments:

Sadie said...

Absolutely! Is there anyone you can talk to about the bad attitude your enrichment teacher seems to have toward your students? It can't possibly help to have such a contradictory attitude, when you're trying to encourage them to build on what they can do, and the other teacher is so focused on their short comings. I wouldn't stand for that if I were you, and I'm sure you're not going to. Hang in there kiddo!

Nicole said...

It's funny how similar my Communications class is to your clsas of kids. Well, not the violence part, although many of them have been violent in the past.

I mean the part about the successes - that is what motivates them. One girl who has always hated school, would never show up (in fact mine is the only class she has consitently made it to this year), and is struggling with depression says that she feels smart in my class. She gets the material because I take time with it. Another boy who I was told was a "doozy" has been willing to learn because I've been willing to know them on an individual basis. I've built trust.

Then, I hold the knowledge out on a big fancy silver platter and tell them how good it tastes. I make them want to know. I make them want to learn. This is exactly what you are doing.

Maybe our experiences aren't going to be so different after all.