Another First This Week
The second quarter began on Monday and I spent a fair amount of time reviewing my policies, rules, and procedures. I wanted to start with a clean slate, correcting the misconception that everyone was starting with an A. I said they’re beginning with a void and would fill it with each assignment.
Unfortunately, the chat didn’t sink in and by Thursday all the usual habits were on display, making teaching classes challenging. I began to notice that I got less taught in my two afternoon English classes than the two morning classes. I also took note that my 11th graders were working on two major projects that would shape their second quarter grade and few seemed to be taking it seriously.
Atop all this, I had to prepare to gain three new students while I dealt with others getting suspended and one of my favorites returning to Uzbekistan. The churn can be dizzying some weeks.
All of this made it somewhat dispiriting. Then, my Consulting Teacher was in to observe one class for content and came back to watch another focusing, at my request, on management. I got her constructive feedback on Friday which I appreciated but the timing could have been better.
There was no full moon Thursday night, nor was one due on Friday. And yet, it was an exceptionally challenging day for faculty and administration alike. In my case, I got a double whammy. In my first class, I had two students bicker at the beginning and I shut it down. A little while later, as everyone should have been defining words through context clues, a vital skill, they got into it again, this time off to the side and with increasing volume. I dashed over and interposed myself between them because it looked like it was about to get physical. While I kept them from one another, my next door teacher came in to help and our instructional assistant called the administration. I stood in front of the screaming girl, who was so agitated her gum popped out and wound up atop my shoe. Both finally were taken from the room and eventually sent home. I had all three assistant principals and our School Resource Officer on hand which helped to rapidly restore order.
Okay, my first classroom fight. Something to remember.
Then lightning struck a second time. At the beginning of sixth period, while I was standing in the hall as was my job, two of my kids wound up fighting. I got into the room in time to watch one bloody the other’s nose. I had a kid get me a teacher for help and she summoned administrative help. Meantime, I entrusted my injured student to another student to get him down to the nurse. After school, I had a long chat with two of the assistant principals about what I saw, and what will happen next.
All day long, I had people check in on me, constantly reminding me this happens and is worse elsewhere. Two fights in the same classroom on a single day is quite rare, I was assured. Since I broke up the fights, I did my job and summoned the proper support as needed so I did things right.
And still, after struggling to maintain order, I was feeling like things were backsliding. By the time I finished my chat, I tidied up quickly and left for home, desperately in need of some detox time. Of course, that means a mountain of reports, grading and other work awaits me first thing Monday, but this was certainly necessary.
My first year in the classroom continues as memories are formed my baptism by fire heats up.