Saturday, September 22, 2012

Go Slow to Go Fast

What a week! Monday was a great day this past week. I commented to my AP after the day was over how nice it was to see teachers (talking mostly about middle school ones) cracking a bit of a smile at days end. Come to find out the reason was a few of the more "spirited" students were absent which dramatically changed the whole dynamic and vibe of the classes. Sad that a small few infect the whole lot of them and create an overall toxic environment.

My schedule is different every day of the week which makes me a bit frazzled at times. The essentialists (music, art, PE and tech) get classes back to back without any kind of break between so when one class runs late or the teacher doesn't come pick them up on time it makes for a bit more chaos. The class that is sending everyone over the edge a bit is the 1st grade due to the size.  37 little people is complete madness in a computer lab. The challenge with them is that we pick them up from the cafeteria and get to lead the group down the hall to our classroom. Talk about the longest line ever! Then of course we have the revolving door of bathroom goers. When we finally get in the room and are a tiny bit settled on the rug for some instruction, it's like looking out at a sea of roly-pollies. This week they had the first time on the computers. As the previous pictures show, my room is like a dancehall.  So all but 3 computers were in use. Thank goodness one of the APs was witness to the kitten herding and roly-poly madness and was able to offer a few bits of advice. The principal also popped in and wondered where the para professional helper was .... "GOOD QUESTION," I replied. She had one in the room within five minutes to help. Whew!!
The week had simple moments that I have to look for a lot more. Empowered a seventh grader to get up and show the rest of the electives group how to do a few things in Garageband. Most students don't call me Ms. DeSelm, they just say Miss. Part of this is due to the fact they've had so many teachers in and out the doors of this school that they have no trust or connection. However, a few smaller kiddos said hi to me using my name. Made me feel good. An eighth grade student stood by me during one of my recess duties and just chatted with me. He was really surprised to learn my mom grew up in the neighborhood and actually went to the school. His comment, "Really? How old are you?" I said I was really old- his great response "You don't look old at all!!"
Then the roller coaster week took a big swoop down when the second 8th grade class walked in my room. There are 30 of them in the first place and then add about five that are ultra "spirited" and make their presence felt times ten. Tried to teach and instruct while the handful threw out snarky comments, and threw paper. One boy I walked over to and quietly asked to move away from the group he was with because he kept talking over me flat out refused. Not much I can do with that when I have the whole group up for the lesson. The lesson I was in the midst of was around getting the students to think about their name and stories related to it. I read an excerpt from a book and shared my own stories via a circle map. The second part of the assignment will be getting them into MS Word for some word processing skills but thought doing it with an interesting assignment would be good. One kid who is another 'spirit' in the class sat there and wasn't working so I tried to ask some prompting questions to get him going. He said "what do you care about my name?" Again showing that these 8th graders don't trust the new teachers and have been bobbled around almost their whole academic career. Why would or should they trust? I wouldn't either. Have to say every time this group comes in my room I have to fake my confidence and put on my poker face. Can't let them smell my fear or I will be eaten alive.
I keep telling myself I need to go slow to go fast. It's important to take a breath and look for the small moments of success. I question a lot whether moving from the suburbs and safety net was the right thing to do. My answer EVERY time is YES. The work is hard~ really, really hard. No place I'd rather be right now.
Now I'm off to reset, refresh and relax in one of my most favorite places on Earth. Salida. Gonna put my feet in the river and just breathe.

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