I had a failed 8th grade lesson on Monday. I scrambled to find something for the other 8th grade group on Thursday. I came up with getting them going with blogging. I am finding it challenging to connect with what they are being taught in math, literacy, science or social studies because the teachers are finding it challenging to teach with they need to teach. There are probably about 13 extremely 'spirited' students who are preventing the rest from learning. This in all honesty PISSES ME OFF! I am frustrated that there are students in each class that do want to learn but are in classes with others who overshadow the whole class with their behaviors.
Back to my trying to blog with the 8th grade. I found some college prep essay topics and also included some very basic topics for them to choose from. One of the topics was about a day in your life that you'd change if you could. I chose to write about this one as a way to model my expectations. I wrote about wanting to change not going to my brother's birthday party in 1996. I wrote about my sadness that he took his own life ten days later and how I wondered if it would have been different had I gone to his birthday to connect with him. WELL... as I was reading this to the class and starting to get emotional, one student's music started to blare out of his headphones so I could hear it at the front of the room. Total distraction to the entire class. I stopped mid sentence, walked over and proceeded to spend 3-4 minutes getting the student to hand over his headphones. It was a complete power struggle and he even stood up and stepped into my personal space to try and win. I finally got the headphones, walked back over and continued to read my blog post. I was emotional and truthful with these kids in hopes that they could see me not as this foreign white teacher in the room but someone who has seen tragedy and has felt painful emotions. I wasn't sure how the students would react to this but figured it was worth a shot. I dismissed students to their work station and as always needed to reteach and explain directions again and again.
The student who I took the earphones from continued to be off task and disruptive. I walked back and forth behind students computers helping and wanting to chat with what they were writing about however, I spend most of the time with about five students trying to get them on task and working. The earphone student had is uniform shirt off his body and just hanging around his neck, he was trying to log in as a student sitting two seats down and was not doing what had been asked of him. (He ended up posting this after my push "I want to be a bo$$ uggh like ricky rozay.") Another student was sitting there with a blank screen and was getting up zooming screens of other students. I never got to look over the shoulders of many other students to see what they were writing because they were quiet and working. I HATE that I spent so much time and energy on just a handful of kids.
I thought for sure when I had a chance to review the posts students made that hardly anyone did what they were supposed to. However, I was wrong. I realized as I read through the postings that I had touched kids with my honesty and openness. I had a few write about similar losses of family members. I had students put effort and thought into writing about things they would change in their community. I had kids who wrote about things they do when they aren't in school. Somehow I still feel I failed the class by spending so much time with the disruptive ones.
How do I let go of the need to focus on the over the top disruptive students and move towards the ones who are engaged and on track??? Do I just choose to redirect once and let them be?