Have to admit my gut twists into knots when I know the 8th graders will be walking through my door. They are certainly a presence. Big bodies, big attitudes, big voices. Yesterday went better than the week before with them. They came in, I quickly gave my directions and lesson and they were off to work on the computers. I am teaching them to use MS Word (wish it was Google Docs but that's another story). The lesson was simple AND I learned from the previous week to have some step by step directions for them so I wasn't repeating myself 30 times. I used a Flow Map from the Thinking Maps program with screen shots of the steps. What a smart move if I do say so myself. Even the 3rd graders were able to use them. (note to self- make directions like that for all tasks).
What I've observed with these students is they don't all know HOW to learn. Some are well below grade level so of course when they are asked to do some of the tasks they shut down and become disruptive because it IS simply too hard. I am trying to set clear expectations, be consistent, be fair. I at least have them to where they venture down from the 3rd floor to the basement and somewhat line up outside the door to hear directions. This is important rather than having them just filter into the room sporadicly on their own time. Then I've moved from having them sit on the rugs on the floor to letting them sit in chairs. I try to make my time with them listening to me short, sweet and to the point. Routines, routines, routines.... hard to create when I only see each class once a week. The 8th grade yesterday was the best I've seen them. I paced the room walking behind the students reminding them to use the gold direction page for their next step. Their task when they finished mine was to play cool math games. Apparently in previous years this was some they did and enjoyed. I don't see how their favorite games had anything to do with math but at least they completed my task and were happy, quiet and calm. I enjoyed chatting with some of the students about the games. I know if I can build relationships with them my job will be not necessarily easier but less gut wrenching.
On a side note, the day wasn't completely good. Walking in the hall back to my room during my lunch time, I had to restrain a girl who was face to face with another getting ready to fight. WOW! Girls are mean!!!!!! I've said for many years there needs to be a program for girls where they learn at a young age how to survive. I see it start at such a young age where girls lose confidence, don't know how to make friends, how to be friends, how to let "silly" girl stuff roll off their backs. For some reason boys do these things easier (most of the time). Guys make each other mad, but they generally don't let it fester and ruin a friendship. Hmmm.