Strange New Teacher

October 25, 2008

Darkness and Light (the week the lights went out)

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 12:36 am

There are days in any career that makes one think the work he/she puts forth is simply not worth it. There are also days, however, when hard work is acknowledged, the stars align , and you know there is nothing you’d rather do than be where you are right now doing exactly what you are doing. For me, this occurred the week the lights went out.

This eleventh week began in terrible darkness. On Monday evening, an hour after my contract time, two angry parents barrelled into my classroom, demanding to speak with Mrs. Strangenewteacher. It seems their daughter had taken someone else’s social studies book, and when Mrs. Strangenewteacher conducted a school-mandated book check two weeks ago, she took the book that didn’t belong to the student. Even though she told the student she would have to purchase a new book if her book didn’t suface, the student went two weeks without a social studies book.

The parents were irate that I had taken the book away from their daughter, and the 6’3, 300 (at least) black father came into my classroom, after hours when there were very few employees in the school, and proceeded to scream at me, getting closer and closer to me as I retreated into my “teacher nook.” He refused to let me address the situation or call an administrator into my room. I was seriously terrified he would hurt me.

Somehow, my AP (who was 2 hallways down at the time) heard the man yelling and came to see what was happening. He listened just enough to figure out what was going on, and then he escorted the man into his office. The minute AP’s office door closed, I collapsed on my floor and sobbed. The adrenaline that pumped through my body poured out with my tears. As the man’s ranting pierced through the door, I tried to figure out what I had done wrong. I followed my AP’s directions to the T. I did exactly what I was told to do, and I even went beyond expectations by giving the student a printout of the price list for the book she was missing.  

AP managed to calm Dad down, and Dad came to apologize if he had come on too strong and he had upset me. AP was real proud of himself as he and the man walked out of the building and into the parking lot. The next morning, AP said, “What a night, Strangenewteacher!”

That’s it. Even though he had walked in on a vicious confrontation the night before and saw me puddled in a heap on my classroom floor, he didn’t bother to see if I was OK. Now I’m not one to want to be babied, but in the event of a traumatic situation like the one I endured, I would hope for my supervisor to at least make sure I was OK. Luckily, I have a huge support system in the form of my fellow teachers. They have helped me through the “I’m-not-cut-out-for-this” stage and got me back to sanity and realizing how much I really do love my job. 

Then, on Wednesday, power went out all through my district. Right in the middle of my notes on persuasive strategies. The kids went buck-wild crazy for about 20 seconds, but I managed to get them calm (with the help of a few emergency flashlights). I opened the classroom door to let some more light in and continued my lesson. About 10 minutes later, my LA AP decided to observe me (because, you know, there’s no better time to observe a newbie than in the middle of complete chaos). Thankfully, the lights came on about 30 minutes after that, so I didn’t have spend the whole day in pitch-black darkness with a room full of 12 year olds.

On Thursday, I went into LA AP’s office to get a copy of a book I was looking for. She sat me down and told me how proud of me she was. She said I managed my classroom better than many pros the day before, and she was impressed at the quality of instruction I managed to get in. We began to talk about my “Failure is NOT an Option” initiative, and I got to brag that, for the first time all year, each of my class averages is over 73%. She let me know that I was doing a very good job. She made me feel good about my work. I have regained the confidence the angry parent stole from me.

So I end my eleventh week still very much in love with my job (maybe not the parents, but I definitely do love my job). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sleep until late into Saturday afternoon.


October 16, 2008

It’s All Business Now

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 1:32 am

After a weekend of brainstorming ways to improve the second nine weeks, I am ready to unveil my plan. I have already introduced the new plan to students, and their reactions see-saw from astonishment to slight anger and back to astonishment again. I think I’m hitting home.

1) No more wasted time. For every one minute of wasted time each day in class, students loose three hours of instructional time for the year. When I heard that in a professional development, I spit my Diet Coke all over the table. Forget one minute of wasted time — I allow students to waste at least 7 minutes each day. That equals twenty one lost class periods at the end of the year. Twenty One. Most students had the same reaction as me. We all agreed that changes needed to be made. We can’t afford to waste that kind of time — especially when we’re failing county assessments.

I posted a giant sign on my whiteboard, and I refer to it each time students talk during instruction. I don’t think they realize that their chattiness wastes time. Now that they know, I can see most students making a conscious effort to stay focused.

2) No more missing assignments. My principal sent me an email a few days ago. She’s really big on quotes, and she likes to share the gems with her employees. I really liked the last one she sent me: “It doesn’t matter what you know but what you do.” The students and I brainstormed the meaning of this quote, and we agreed that it meant (at least to us) that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if you don’t do the work, you won’t be successful. That means missing assignments are no longer acceptable. If students fail to complete an assignment, I will contact their parent(s), and they will have working lunches until the work is turned in.

3. Failure is NOT an option. I have this sign posted on my whiteboard. I refer to it often. There is not one student who is incapable of mastering the 7th grade LA cirriculum. Therefore, I will not accept failure anymore. Students are required to complete all assignments. They are required to participate in class. Students who struggle to master the standards will come in early for extra help or serve working lunches with me. I simply will not allow failure this nine weeks — my kids are better than that.

Whew. That’s a drastic plan. Even I am sweating it. But it is something that I feel has to be done — I will not have another failure rate like last quarter’s. I want to show these kids that they are capable of greatness because they are. I am so incredibly proud of the learning and growth that took place last quarter, but it wasn’t enough. It’s time to step up and get to business. I’m not about to give up on these kids. I won’t let them give up on themselves.

October 11, 2008

Figuring out Failure

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 8:40 pm

So, nine weeks down. One quarter completed. I’ve survived 1/4 of a school year, but I’m not satisfied with the way things are going. On Tuesday, students took a county-mandated final exam which covered the standards I have taught over the past nine weeks. Out of four classes, three failed (one failed miserably) and only one class surpassed the county average.

Emotionally, I am exhausted. I have run the gamut of emotion: from shocked to embarrassed to angry to hopeless to, finally, determined. I am determined to have all classes surpass the county average by 10 points this quarter. I am determined to make my students work harder and learn more than they thought possible. I am determined to learn from this quarter and not make the same mistakes again.

When I sat down to pow-wow with the kids this week, they were probably just as shocked at their scores as I was. They all thought  they knew the content. I asked them to reflect on the past quarter and write what they thought went well and what went wrong. Many admitted to me that they weren’t taking Language Arts too seriously, but now they will. All classes admitted that they waste time in class by talking and goofing off. A lot of kids promised to do their work this quarter. I am going to give them that responsibility.

As for me, I rushed through the material. We had so many standards to cover last quarter that I felt rushed. I didn’t adequately cover some of the concepts that I should have. I didn’t give as much practice as I should have. I had the students writing a lot (and their writing skills are through the roof — they’re going to rock the writing test), but I wasn’t doing a good job of getting the kids to incorporate the concepts in their writing. I didn’t provide ample review before assessments. I think, worst of all, I allowed myself to take student misbehavoir personally. I allowed distruptive students to take instructional time away from my classes. This quarter, I am not going to give as many warnings for behavior. I am going to crack down on the talking and off-task behaviors. I’m not going to punish the whole class for the antics of a few.

Two of my classes met or surpassed the school’s average, so I know I taught them what they needed to know. The classes that failed are the classes that I struggle keeping on task. I need to find ways to engage those students who refuse to do assignments. I need to find ways to successfully teach all students — not just those who want to learn. Any advice is appreciated.

I also asked the students to write a report card for me. I asked them to tell me how I am a good teacher and how I could be a better teacher. Aside from the one student who said I am racist and evil (I gave him 3 detentions and a referral this quarter, and he refuses to take responsibility for them — read about him in The Student Who Cried “Mean Teacher”), every other student gave me thoughtful and constructive advice. Here is what a few of them said:

“Strangenewteacher could be a better teacher by giving more conduct cuts to those who need them.” I completely agree!

 “Strangenew teacher is a good teacher because she does not give up on us.”

“Strangenewteacher is a good teacher because when she explains things she always gives an example to helps us understand better.”

“Strangenewteacher could be a better teacher by giving more study guides.” I agree!

“Strangenewteacher should slow things down a little bit and stop moving so fast with our learning.”

“Strangenewteacher is a good teacher because she is determined to teach. Also because she makes us understand the stuff.”

“Strangenewteacher could be a better teacher by giving us two choices to pick from for our Friday journals.”

And my favorite:

“Strangenewteacher is a good teacher because she teaches with enthusiasm and excitement. For instance, I was in science one day and out of nowhere I heard her say, ‘Awwwww…. I forgot the comma in my who clause!'”

October 5, 2008

8th week reflection: The class that just doesn’t get it

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 2:00 pm

Whew. Eight weeks down. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. Even better: most days, I feel like I could continue to do this forever. I have established routines and procedures in my classroom that the students, for the most part, completely embrace. I am building some really great relationships with my students, and I am starting to feel more comfortable with developing creative and engaging lessons for the students.

I don’t know how it happened, but my students come into my classroom every day and get straight to work on their warmup. They are quiet and focused on the task. I hear Miss History next door yelling at her kids to sit down and be quiet, and I just want to hug mine for following my procedures. I am using Grammar With a Giggle for my warmups, and the students are really getting into it. I have given control of it to the students, so for the first 15 minutes of class, they run the warmup: they decide who looks up the vocabulary word(s) and writes it on board, they decide who makes the corrections on the board, and they are even starting to take my cue and ask the correctors why they made each correction. I love it: I just stand to the side and monitor. I have seen huge improvements in their grammar usage and vocabulary (they love to use “pulchritudinous” and “obstreperous” in their everyday speech at school!), and my LA AP has commented that she is very impressed with what I am doing with my kids.

9 week final exams are scheduled for next week, so I am finished teaching the cirriculum for first quarter. We’ll see on Tuesday how much the kids actually learned and retained. During our review on Friday, they were all commenting on how easy the questions were. I hope they meant it.

I teach four classes of Language Arts. I have very few problems with three of the class, but my first period class is completely unruly (to my standards). That class seems to think that days when I give engaging lessons, they are free to do whatever they want: chat, homework for other classes, sleep, throw paper across the room. When I give boring seatwork, though, they are focused and on task. On Thursday, I had had it, so I decided to make an example of that class. I don’t know if this is what “good” teachers do, but it is what I am going to do. At least for right now (and until I can get a better idea).

I have given this speech to each class: “As a team, you (students) have told me over and over again that you wished we could do more fun things in class. You want to be able to move around and do things instead of just taking notes. I want that for you, too. But you need to know that these kinds of lessons are not a right. They are a privelege that you have to earn. First period has taken advantage of engaging lessons for a week now, so for all next week, they will be doing seatwork. The rest of my classes have behaved wonderfully during the engaging lessons: they have fun while they learn, but when I need their attention, they get quiet and focused on me again. They have managed to stay on task and complete the lesson. They have shown me that I can trust them with fun activities. While first period does boring seatwork next week, the rest of my classes will participate in more interactive activities.” 

When I gave this speech, first period just sat there, acting unconcerned. The rest of the classes, though, were very excited. In homeroom on Friday, I overheard some 6th period students telling a 1st period student that Mrs. Strangenewteacher is going to make sure that he has no fun next week. The speech seemed to make the other classes want to behave better : they almost seem to know that I’m giving them a good opportunity. First period: well, they just don’t seem to get it.

September 27, 2008

The Student Who Cried, “Mean Teacher”

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 11:59 pm

There was once a young boy named D. He was a leader among his peers, but not in a good way. He was a very lazy boy who did not care about school. He struggled with school and had little confidence in himself. As a result, by the time he reached seventh grade, he had stopped trying. He did very little in class and tried to distract his classmates as well. He got in a lot of trouble because of his behavior, but he refused to take responsibility for his behavior.

The mornings his homeroom teacher would give him silent lunch or a detention, he would complain, for all to hear, how horrible his school was and how mean his teachers were. He swore his teachers were picking on him and giving him consequences for no reason at all. He threatened many times that he was going to have his mom have the principal switch him to another team.

After a while, his teachers began to secretly hope that he would, indeed, go to another team. Though she was frustrated at his non-existent motivation, Mrs. Strangenewteacher decided to focus the majority of her effort on the other 114 students who somewhat cared about learning. She began to ignore his misbehavior, and she soon saw his classmates were irriatated with this boy as well.

This turn of events did not sit well with the boy. He become more and more frustrated that his antics were being ignored by everyone that he decided to focus his attention to the only other people who would listen to him: his parents. For weeks, he went home day after day, complaining that Mrs. Strangenewteacher hated him and was picking on him for no reason. With alligator tears, he begged to be switched to another team. Anything was better than being in Mrs. Stangenewteacher’s classroom and being subjected to her unwarrented mean spirit.

As you can imagine, after a few weeks of seeing her son come home so miserable, the boy’s mother went to the school to talk with the assisstant principal about Mrs. Strangenewteacher. The assistant principal knew the boy well and was not fooled by the tears, so he suggested the woman schedule a conference with the team to discuss her issues. “And bring your son to the meeting, too,” he said.

So one Friday morning, the mom and her son arrived at the school to confer with the boy’s teachers. She had come prepared to give Mrs. Strangenewteacher a piece of her mind, but as the other teachers informed her of how her son behaved and performed in their classes, her resolve weakened. Her anger was no longer directed at the young teacher; she was now completely embarrassed and was ready to strangle her own son. After a 30 minute conference, the truth was revealed: the boy’s teachers were tough on him, yes, but it was only because he was doing nothing in their classes except trying to disturb his classmates’ learning. 

The mother decided that Mrs. Strangenewteacher did not have it out for her son after all, and she asked her to continue to stay firm with her son. The assistant principal congratulated Mrs. Strangenewteacher for being so well-prepared for the meeting and for standing her ground, and he told her he was proud of her. The boy walked out of the meeting with puffy eyes and a tear-stained face. Mrs. Strangenewteacher was vindicated, and it felt so good.

September 21, 2008

The 6th Week — a week of victories

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 2:02 am

Well, besides the obvious downer of the events of Thusrday (with K and J), this week has been pretty great. I got the report from my first formal observation on Monday. My principal said she actually liked that I used a day to allow the kids to personalize their Writer’s Notebooks; she said that by allowing this, I helped the kids take ownership of their notebooks.  Woo hoo!

We began a memoir project in our Writer’s Notebooks this week (I am doing one alongside the students). The students seem to be really enjoying the notebooks, and I am finding creative ways to get the kids to work efficiently. A few weeks ago, it wouldv’e taken my kids 5 minutes to glue something into their notebooks, but this week (with the help of a timer and a friendly challenge), students were able to glue their papers into their notebooks, put all glue sticks back into the group containers, and sit silently in 45 seconds. They love this game of being timed to do simple tasks.

Last weekend, I bought 5 plastic containers and filled them with glue sticks, scissors, highlighters, a hand-held pencil sharpener, and a pack of tissues. I placed a container on each group of desks and told the kids I have provided them with supplies they might need during my class. I warned them that if I saw anyone abusing my supplies, I would take them away. I am pleasantly surprised that the students have been mature with the supplies: no tissues on the floor, nothing has been stolen, no silly antics involving any of the supplies. They seem to appreciate this gesture. As a plus, I don’t have kids interrupting my class every 5 minutes asking for a tissue or to sharpen their pencils.

The students are finally starting to realize that as long as they behave in the way I want, I am actually a pretty cool person to be around. I have noticed a significant change in behavior, and I have become more relaxed as well. They still like to test boundries, but a stern warning or look can usually get them back in line.

Parent contacts have gotten much better. I have managed to resolve “conflicts” with some parents (there’s no conflict — they’re just upset little Jenny doesn’t have an A), and I have even started to call parents of my best students just to brag. The parents are always surprised to hear from me and thank me repeatedly for the call. I really like those calls.

All in all, I have smiled more than I have frowned this week. I have celebrated more than I have worried. I have left the building by 6:30 every evening. I have had FUN, and I have seen students actually learning and engaged. It’s been a fantastic week.

September 19, 2008

Smart Kids and Dumb Decisions

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 2:18 am

This morning before homeroom, two of my students jumped an apparently innocent eighth grader. I realized something was wrong when I noticed 7th grade AP and his secretary abnormally stressed and frazzled 20 minutes before school started. Teachers were whispering frantically, and students with tear-stained faces gathered near the AP’s office. K was apprehended during homeroom, and I was informed that he would most likely not make it to my 6th period class today. J made it through my second period class and halfway through lunch before they came looking for him.

He made a noble effort of wading through the mass of curious students with a look of “screw you all” on his face. The kids undoubetly thought he was the stuff. But I know better — I saw him sitting in the AP’s office with his bottom lip trembling.

Both students have been expelled from our school for the rest of the school year. I have conflicting emotions. K is disrespectful and extremely defiant. He makes no effort of doing much of anything at all. I am in constant contact with his mother, and that doesn’t make a difference. We have used every form of discipline we know on him, and it’s had no visible effect. J, on the other hand, is (in my opinion) salvageable. He was one of my best writers, and he is extremely smart. His attitude and bad mouth get him in trouble, but he and I had made huge strides over the past few weeks. I hope alternative school is a positive change in his life because he is very capable of being very successful.

I just want to strangle those kids right now. They had a great opportunity right in front of them: 4 teachers who were willing to do anything to help them succeed. And they ruined it; they lost it for no better reason than beating up some kid they didn’t even know.

September 13, 2008

4.5 Week Progress Reports Bring Out The Angry Parents!

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 2:29 pm

I survived my 5th week of teaching! Whoo Hoo! I’m learning waaaaay more than I ever thought possible. Some days I love teaching, and there are a few days I question my carreer choice. I’m seriously hoping that’s normal for newbies.

I had a roller coaster ride of a week. Let’s start with Monday: after consulting with the 7th grade gifted LA teacher, I have decided to implement a Writer’s Notebook in my classes. They work well in her class, and she’s seeing some really great work. Now, my students are as far from gifted as I am from — I don’t know — a great singer, but I liked the concept of the notebook, and I was willing to give it a try.

Tuesday was uneventful, and then Wednesday emerged it’s ugle little head. When they came to class, all my students had their little composition books, ready to convert them into Writer’s Notebooks. I introduced the Writer’s Notebook concept and tried to get the kids really excited about this year-long project. I started passing out materials for the students to use to personalize the covers of their Notebooks when my principal entered my room. As fate would have it, she had picked that day to conduct my formal observation (1 of 3 for the year). Great. My principal observes me while I am conducting art class.

I’m still awaiting my report. She’s been in my classroom twice before for 5 minute observations, so I know she knows I actually teach content, but I’m still bummed. If she could have only come on Thursday. I had a great lesson planned on Thursday. Then, after the students had finally left, and I was just getting ready to settle into my classroom for a few hours of planning, my mentor teacher yells out, “Go home, Strangenewteacher! It’s 5:00!”

Seriously? I just got started. I told her I was going to stay a few hours to try to plan for next week. This sends her and another teacher into a 20 minute lecture on how I cannot stay at school until 6:30. The way I’m doing things is totally wrong. She comes in a 6 AM, and I need to do so as well. She doesn’t care that I’m not a morning person and it’s a struggle enough to make it to school by 8. Then my AP enters the conversation. He agrees that I’m working too hard. I am wrong by planning for next week — I should have the next 4 weeks planned by now. 

At that point, I shut down. I have been teaching for 4.5 weeks, but I’m supposed to already have the rest of the quarter planned out? There’s no way. I was feeling so attacked by being yelled at by 3 people at once that I cried. Yup. Because apparently I’m not as strong and prefessional as I wanted to be. I guess they realized I was overwhelmed because they left. Gone in 3.5 seconds. I swear I saw smoke trailing them. The next morning, there was a card on my desk: “Sorry we were so pushy. We were wrong.”

4.5 week progress reports also went out on Wednesday. I am amazed at these parents. I send home electronic progress reports every week, and I hear nothing. I send home the big deal, and I get 73 emails the next day: enraged parents demanding to know why Little Johnny got a 0 for three classwork grades, and why I won’t let him make up those grades? Ummmm … because this work was completed in class, and Little Johnny refused to do the work because he was way too concerned with throwing paper balls across the room?

Then, yesterday, my AP calls me into his office to tell me a parent complained about me because I refused to let students make up classwork grade they had received 0s for. She said it is obvious I don’t care about her son. AP told me he was on my side, but that complaint has to go into my file. Well, isn’t that just freaking fabulous.

September 6, 2008

4th week reflections

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 3:11 pm

Wow! What an exhausting last few weeks I’ve had! Between my personal life and my professional life, I have been so incredibly busy. Last week, my stepfather was changing the oil in his minivan when the jack failed and the van fell on him. We were at the hospital all weekend, but miraculously, he went home on Tuesday with a fractured skull, shattered cheek, some swelling on his brain, and more fractures in his face than the doctor’s can count. But he’s alive, and we’re grateful!

I think I’m getting a hang of this teaching thing. I have my good days and my bad days. I realize I have been letting the kids walk all over me more then I sould have, so I’m cracking down. And they hate me right now. I have been calling parents left and right. It feels good to build partnerships with them — most want to help me out.

I’ve written 2 referrals so far. One for a student who yelled the F-word in the middle of silent reading (school policy) and 1 to the student with whom I’ve been having issues since day 1. His mother refuses to return any of my calls, emails, or letters I’ve mailed home. He’s been in ISS and cross-teamed as a result of his disruptive behavior, but that doesn’t work. We found out this week that he is a special education student (he has a 504 and an IEP from his last school), but 5 weeks into the school year, we still don’t have this documentation. Lovely.

I had to attend a full-day planning session on Thursday, and I came back to a glowing sub report. Only one student was disrespectful, 2 refused to do the work, and 1 lied about having finished the work. The sub said the rest of my students were wonderful, and he had a great day. I was thrilled. But why aren’t they that well-bahaved for me?!?!

I”ve been observed by my principal twice, by the LA AP twice, and by 7th grade AP once. All the reports have been positive, so I’m feeling good about this gig.

I want to leave you with something I’m really proud of: my students’ writing. Enjoy!

“School is a drag like watching ants cross the road or laying on your stiff bed watching the painted walls crumble on your bedsheets.”

“Every time I come to school, my brain is smushed like cars colliding.”

“Then you have to fly like an eagle to catch the bus to school, bouncing so hard you have to cling to the seat to keep from slamming into the seat in front of you.”

“I had to go in and out of the house, back and forth with a half gallon bucket of bleach, soap, Lysol, laundry soap, and Fabuloso.”

“One time I saw the guy’s face, and my bones nearly popped out of my face from rattling and shaking so much.”

“We scattered like a herd of zebra running from a cheetah.”

August 23, 2008

A Second Week of Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — strangenewteacher @ 3:25 pm

So Week 2 is over and done with. The past two weeks have been a rollercoaster ride of emotion. I learned even more this week than I thought I had learned last week. I’ve experienced more little victories and a few failures. But, most importantly, I left the building last night (before 7:30! Woo Hoo!) more in love with my job and what I am doing with my life.

I have noticed over the last week in a half that Miss History is not friendly with me. She is short in answering any questions, she is condescending to me in front of the students, and she is just not as warm with me as she was over the summer. We have no bells in the building, so it is up to our team to dismiss classes at the correct time. I know the times to dismiss, but when I look into Ms. Science’s classroom, she will still be teaching. I am terrified to stop instruction early because chaos would break out in my classroom, so I teach until the other teachers dismiss. More than once, Miss history will open my door in the middle of my instruction and yell, “Let’s go!” as her kids crowd around my door. I have told her repeatedly that I will not dismiss my kids until everyone is ready to dismiss. I don’t think she likes that.

Miss History also volunteered to host silent lunch in her classroom this week. That means she escorts all silent lunch kids to her room, and I bring her class and my class back after lunch. And they’re supposed to be silent in the halls. Students seen talking in the halls receive an automatic silent lunch. So I emailed her on Wednesday and suggested she might want to remind her lunch class of the consequences of talking in the halls, and she sends me a scathing email about how she is dealing with 25 students in silent lunch, so I should deal with the kids in the hall. She tells me to give them the concequence if they talk in the hall. Okay, no problem. So I assign 17 students silent lunch for talking in the hall. The next day, she is incredibly upset that she has so many students in silent lunch, so I offer to host SL with her — we can split up the kids. In front of our students, she says, “Go back to your lunch, StrangeNewTeacher (she called me by my first name). I can deal with this myself.” The kids just stared at us, and a few looked really shocked. I was mortified. I do not know how to deal with this situation.

I started teaching real content this week. My principal observed me on a day I had an awesome lesson — we were playing “Guess that Man!”, a gameshow-type introduction to the life and works of Nelson Mandela. The kids were engaged, I was having the time of my life, and my principal loved my lesson. The next day, Language Arts AP observed me while I was modeling think alouds with the students. Not quite as exciting, but a valuable lesson, nonetheless. Another positive review.

Students are beginning to behave the way I want them to — I have to remind myself it takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit. Students have ben doing my procedures for 10 days. Many students are active participators, and there are a handful who haven’t started taking 7th grade seriously yet. 7th grade cirriculum is way more challenging than 6th grade’s, and students who coasted by last year will not be so successful this year. I have taken a quiz grade, 3 homework grades, and 2 class work/participation grades. All students did well on the quiz, but many have not turned in any homework or class work. This drops their grades down to Cs or lower. I emailed progress reports last night to parents. Hopefully, this will be the kick in the pants some of my students need.

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