I hadn't yet read Gartrell's Power of Guidance, or Positive Discipline, or Teach Like a Champion. I hadn't learned how to practice procedures until we got them right, or how to call kiddos back to the carpet when things go out of hand. I hadn't figured out that a "teacher look" or a silent signal could refocus students during a lesson. As a result, I spent most of that year in tears, feeling pretty hopeless about how each day would go.
But it's not my first year -- far from it -- and the difference is tangible as I look around my classroom. I've set up clear expectations for entering the classroom, transitioning, working with partners, and reading independently. I've taught the silent signals for "SHINE," "track the speaker," and "wait your turn," so I rarely need to interrupt my instruction for minor misbehavior. I've created charts to show how I expect the kiddos to keep their seat pockets, book bins, and writing folders neat.
I now have a much larger arsenal of teaching tools, including the experience to know that some years are just like this. During my first year, when it felt like nothing was going right, my roommate would insist that I find out at least 3 positive things that had happened each day. I learned to focus on them, articulate them to myself, and try to foster more of them. I know now that I won't always have to search for the good things, but I also know that there will always be at least a few good things even in the worst days. The majority of my kiddos are falling into the procedures easily and getting used to the routines of the day, even though I am constantly on my toes to ensure that that the distracting and disruptive behavior of a couple of kiddos doesn't throw off an entire day. I now know that, beyond a point, another hour of lesson planning at 11pm, or spending another weekend rearranging the classroom yet again, or reading another article on behavior management techniques, won't "solve everything."
|Sometimes on my worst days, I still get notes like this: "The Best Day of School"|