Thursday, November 15, 2007

This Year I'm Doing it All . . .

. . . Saturday Academy for three hours each week, Extended Day twice a week for an hour and a half, and a "study group" every Wednesday for two hours (not to mention this week was parent-teacher conferences!). I'm exhausted! But I'm making it through. And after three whole days, I finally made it to yoga so I'm feeling good.

Now that it gets dark so early it's hard to do anything but go straight home after school. As I'm walking out of the building at 5:15 it feels like I should have been home hours ago and already in my sweats and making dinner. It takes everything I have to remember that 5:15 really isn't late at all. If it were May, it would be afternoon and I'd be feeling thankful that I'm a teacher and have a chance to be free and out of work so early. But for now, it's dark and cold for another few months.


Extended Day went sooo much better today than last Thursday (which was our first session). Coming into the class not knowing the kids (they are fourth graders that I don't normally work with), not knowing the materials I'd be working with (the AP gave me the books 15 minutes after the session started), not having any snack provided by the school, and--seemingly insignificant, but--not having working clocks that day, really spelled disaster for the end of a long day.

Today however, I came in prepared: I put the desks in a new seating arrangement (one long table with all the kids), brought pretzels (to be handed out to on-task students), and came armed with some better teaching strategies. It made all the difference and today the class a pleasure. The time flew by and before I knew it we had just 20 minutes to complete our last section and go over it. I don't know if the timing felt better to the kids too but at least with the clocks working they didn't have to ask me the time every two minutes.

There is one girl that is driving me crazy though. She always wants to read, answer the question, or add to what someone else said. If she doesn't get to talk every time she starts getting really frustrated. The first day I finally snapped and yelled at her about there being nine other kids in the room and she can't speak all the time; she has to wait her turn. Today I was a little more patient. I also tried to make the turns predictable by having them read and answer round robin-style so she knew when her turn was. I had wanted to write names on popsicle sticks to draw randomly but I didn't have time to prepare that for today. At one point I was really trying to get the kids to understand that getting the wrong answer isn't something to be embarrassed about; now is the time to talk about our answers so that we can figure out why we got the wrong answer and be able to get it right the next time. Well, she really took that to heart and (I swear) when I asked "did anyone get an answer other than C" (which we had just determined to be the right answer), she said that she first chose D but then changed her mind and put C (and then she went on and on as to why). I was sitting right next to her and she picked C the first time. So she wants to share out so badly that she is willing to lie and say she got the wrong answer because she knew I was only calling on kids with the wrong answer at that point. Seriously, I don't know how to deal with her. Somehow I have to tame her a little bit if I am not going to go batty every week. Ideas?


miss brave said...

Some teachers I used to work with would give their chattiest kids a pre-determined number of times they could be called on -- say, 5. They could choose to use up their 5 turns all at once toward the beginning of the period, or they could try to spread it out, but once they'd shared/been called on 5 times, that was it for the period.

jonathan said...

Careful not to overextend yourself. Burnout happens, and no one does it to themselves on purpose ("it's ok, I can do a bunch of extra per session, I planning to burn out this Spring anyhow...")

The kid who likes to hear herself is tough. There are things I've used in high school that I don't think you can use with younger kids. (make kids write answers down first, and read their neighbor's out loud...)

Can you call on kids without allowing them to raise hands?

Actually, I like Ms. Brave's suggestion better.

Anonymous said...

I was working with IB high school students this year. My class was about 1/3 ESL, 1/3 GATE and 1/3 non-coded students. The GATE kids were perfectly happy dominating the classroom, not letting anyone else speak, and shouting out whenever I didn't call on them. Each individual student literally thought that they should have a turn to speak in response to my every question posed to the class. The ESL students would have been perfectly happy not speaking a word all term. Well, that lasted all of about three days. For the rest of the term I adopted a No Hands policy, in which I didn't respond to raised hands in response to my questions. Instead, I always started by saying the student's name (so that he or she would know to pay attention to what I was saying) and then asking the question. "Lisa, what did you get for number six?" "Min Joo, who do you think is the speaker in this poem?" Problem 100% solved once they realized it was a Hands Free classroom!