It was the best of days, it was the worst of day; as I entered week three of year two of teaching, I found myself constantly looking for wood to knock on for good luck. I’m fairly certain I never had a honeymoon period to enjoy last year, so I’ve been in unfamiliar territory thus far as my students continue to do their work and bring me classroom supplies as extra credit. Hey, I’m not complaining!
Today, I had promised my kids unofficial progress reports because I wanted to give them a tangible means of seeing that they can maintain an A in my science class albeit for two weeks. At the same time, I wanted to show my boys and girls in danger of slipping back into 7th grade habits that although they started with a 100, it is up to them to change their behavior and work habits in order to remain above an 80 in my class. Due to some printer issues, I ended up writing each student’s scores on a half-notecard, which I thought was bootleg, but my students still liked seeing where they were at and gaining bragging rights. One girl told me she was going to post hers on her refrigerator! Next time, I’ll do better about being more professional because my students deserve it.
And they really do deserve it. My principal came into my homeroom/first period class this morning and commented aloud that she was “very impressed” with a strong smile. I wouldn’t have gotten that last year, and I wouldn’t have deserved it; however, although she was commenting on my room décor as much as my homeroom’s behavior, I really wanted to say, “thank you, but I’m doing well because my student’s are doing well.” (One boy asked for candy for good behavior afterwards) And it’s true: I bring my A-game because my students bring theirs. When you feel motivated, anything is possible, but when you’re beaten down and feel hopeless, as I often felt last year, everything feels impossible. I truly feel like my students and I are working together towards a common goal, rather than as if I’m dragging unwilling teens towards an outcome neither party cares about.
That said, I yelled more today than I have on any single day so far this year. Not necessarily at my own classes (though there was some of that, too) but a combination of reprimanding 6th/7th graders acting foolish while out of place on my 8th grade hall, and “going HAM” on boys and girls trying to fight each other. Reflecting on the day, I think I accessed a new level of Mr. Britt today- Super Saiyan…super yellin’. My own students told me to calm down because I looked like I was going to fight someone- and I was. Still, I started to feel bad because some of the sixth graders arguably didn’t deserve to get the brunt of my frustrations, but they don’t need to be at the wrong place at the wrong time in the first place. I also don’t need any more boys falling down the stairs as they attempt to run away from me. One of these days, I will bring my cross-trainers and run them down- quickest science teacher they’ll ever see #acceleration.
Regardless, as I continue to work on building relationships and classroom culture, I really want to incorporate some type of conflict resolution-orientated curricula. Especially in middle school, kids need to learn how to deal with the issues and arguments that will inevitably come up at some point. I’m looking forward to working with some of the teachers at my school on a plan to help our students in this area and would love any suggestions or advice. All in the name of progress!