Yesterday was another tough one. Day, I mean.
Long. Tiring. Draining.
And it was only Monday.
The sad part about it is that the day only drained me because of problems I'm having when my class leaves me. When they go somewhere else...away from me....and I honestly don't know how to fix it.
My morning, yesterday, was OK. The kids had to take a math test, and they are always stressful. I really thought I had a handle on how much they've learned these past five weeks, but the tests never show that. I mean, don't get me wrong...my kiddos did MUCH better on their post test than they did on their pre test, but as I grade I often wonder what happened to make them miss the questions that they did. The wording, perhaps? The fact that the questions are mainly multiple choice, and it's easier to just pick an answer than figure out the actual problem? I don't know.
At the end of the day, the tests do offer some insight to areas I still need to focus on..and that's the point for them, right?
Then, lunch and recess come and go...and it's time for my kids to head off to their specials destination.
Before they go, I give them another "talk". Similar to the one I gave them on Friday. About how they represent me when they are with other teachers, how I expect them to treat those teachers better than they treat me, how good and hard working they are for me and how I want the other teachers in the building to see that for themselves.
I leave them in their specials class feeling positive, confident. They'll do better.
Then, I get back there an hour later, only to find the specials teacher just about ready to pull his hair out. He's been trying to get them quiet so they will clean up ready to leave, but it's not working. The minute I walk in, silence falls across the room. He looks at me with frustration in his eyes. It's been a rough class, he tells me. He's had several kids that just wouldn't do what they were asked to do, wouldn't stop talking, and it's been a very frustrating hour of trying to get anything done.
Being that I'm a firm believer in not holding a whole class responsible for the actions of a select few, I ask for specific names. I want to know who the one or two kids are that had been causing so much difficulty. Then, he gives me SEVEN names. SEVEN! Seven out of the nineteen kids in the room have made his hour almost impossible to teach anything. Almost half the class.
More than half the names he gives me are the kids that are so good in my classroom. They work quietly. They do their work quickly and efficiently. They keep themselves busy when they're finished. They don't mess around or cause distractions. And they have NEVER been in trouble by me.
I just don't get it.
I mean, a small part of me rejoices at the fact that while my kids are with me, they are very well behaved. It says a lot for my classroom management and the expectations I've placed on them. When I can walk up to the room they're in, hear the chaos that's taking place inside, and the room immediately silences at my presence...that says a lot for how they respect me. Or fear me. I'm hoping it's more respect than fear.
But, I'm not really sure how I can uphold those expectations when they are elsewhere. Giving them harsh consequences apparently doesn't work. Giving them long speeches about my expectations of them, and how I want others to see them doesn't work. I guess all I have left now is rewarding the kids that do what they're supposed to when they go away from me.
Which is a trend I'd rather not start. I don't like rewarding kids for behaving like they're supposed to. I like rewarding kids that go above and beyond, try hard, and don't just do things because they know there's candy or toys or homework passes in it for them.
Which is something I've worked hard to instill since day one. I hand out homework passes for excellent work. I give rewards out when the kids have no idea they're coming or what they're being given for. I don't like bribery, and the kids seem to like the surprise that comes from being given a reward when they had no idea a reward was an option in the first place.
I don't know. I'm sure I'll figure something out.
I know that this all bothers me so much BECAUSE my kiddos are so good. I mean, if I had problems with them all day, I wouldn't be surprised in the least that other teachers had problems with them. If they were naturally loud or rambunctious, I could understand other teachers having trouble getting them to quieten down and focus. But they're not. Not a single one of them.
I've received so many compliments from teachers who pass by my room or come in to my room while my kids are hard at work. They are quiet (even when they don't have to be), they are working hard, they are working cooperatively without arguing or fighting or cheating.
Today is a new day, however.
A day for them to start over. A day for me to start over. Plus, they have P.E. as their special today...that's always pretty good, because they get to run around and burn off some energy while they're in there.
I know that Me from last year would have gotten pretty mean with the kids by now. But, I'm not going to. I just won't. Tough? Maybe. Stern? I guess. But mean? No. Won't do it. They don't deserve it, no matter what kind of complaints I get about them. I don't want "mean" put in to my description list this year when other kids in the building think of me.
I want to end this year knowing that my kids got through doing and being who they are not because I was mean, but because I pushed them, made them want to succeed, and giving them all the tools to do so.
And I will. I know I will. I just have to get over this little bump, and it'll be smooth sailing from here on out.
I know it.