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I asked myself “what is it with this class”several times during 3rd period.  Today’s class started off on the wrong foot.  A student walked into the class screaming “WHERE’S MY CHAIR ?”  Mind you this is about 30 seconds after the bell.

“Really.  I have about an hour and half left with this the class, and this crap is already starting!” – I thought.

The class went south after that.  I upheld my expectations of classroom behavior, and followed through on my discipline steps.  Meanwhile, I didn’t feel good about it.  I felt too much of an authoritarian – which I suppose is necessary from time to time.  Yet, the feeling that somehow this isn’t an enjoyable class is still present in my mind.

I have taught the same class over a dozen times before and it’s been engaging, fun, and a great learning environment.  This class is beginning to feel hostile, tense, and negative.  This is unacceptable.  Who wants to teach in a class like this?  Or who wants to learn in a class like that?  There many reasons I suspect have led to this situation.  Regardless, I need to reverse it.

I have been mulling over some ideas to improve the classroom environment.  Two that I will implement ASAP is celebrate student successes more often and change-up the curriculum so it’s more engaging for the students.

I’ll have the students back on Friday.  Let’s see what happens.

UPDATE – 3/28 – – – – – – – –

Well the good news is that the class recovered.  I changed up the curriculum, making it more engaging and relevant to the students’ lives.  This helped drive down misbehavior.  More importantly, I stuck by my guns, setting clear expectations that I want all students to learn and there are rules that have to be followed to ensure this happens.  In the end, I believe the students respected me more as a teacher, although at times it didn’t feel like it.

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At the beginning of the year (semester), we review our new class rosters, allowing us to practice student names, set-up grade books, and create seating charts.  Also, many of us teachers review our class roster to see who we know – many of our students we have had in previous years or classes.  This past semester I reviewed my class roster and everything seemed normal and I had great kids, then I saw his name.  Let’s call him Rob.

I taught Rob as a freshman student.  He was tough: swearing in class, disrupting other students, and always getting in fights with other students.  He definitely kept me busy.  I  always stuck to my discipline plan and reiterated my expectations to him – expectations of the classroom and his potential.  We bumped heads a lot, but we made it through the school year.

I saw Rob occasionally over his Sophomore year, always greeting him in the hallway and asking how he is doing in the class.  This helped us gain a strong rapport.  But, he wasn’t doing well.  From his current teachers I heard he was still getting in fights and smoking pot.

Now, I have Rob back again as a Junior.  Within the first days, we have had some problems: tardiness and speaking when I am speaking.  Yikes.  Here we go again.  I followed my discipline plan and we have already had a student conference (on the third day of school).  This time is a little different.  I believe he knows that I genuinely want him to do well in class and succeed in general.  This helps create some leverage when disciplining.  My fear though is that this leverage will soon dissipate over the coming weeks.

I am going to hope for the best and keep trying to guide Rob in the right direction, but I would be  a fool to not acknowledge this isn’t going to be easy.

I have a file folder for each student that I keep in an “in-box” on my desk. If a student is absent when worksheets, etc. are passed out, I just put a copy in the student’s folder right away. I also put graded work for absentees in the folder. Saves time looking for the papers they need.
I put a little green dot in the upper right corner of my master copy of all worksheets, tests, etc. That way I don’t get paranoid about giving out my last copy. The one with the green circle is always one I keep.

– Betty Ann

I teach 8th grade.  Here are some things that are invaluable
to me.

1. Three-ringed binders. I put each unit in a binder. If I 
have transparencies, CDs, DVDs, etc, they are all put in it 
too, along with the lesson plans and objectives for that 
unit.


2. Hanging files.  I have one for each student.  That’s where 
ALL corrected work goes. Either at the end of the week or 
whenever the files start to bulge, I remind the students to 
take home their work or it’s getting recycled.


3. Keep detailed lesson plans on the computer.  If something 
needs tweaking, it’s much easier to edit.


4. Try and get copies made at least a week ahead of time. I
have a shelf that is labeled for each of my three preps. 
Right now I have the rest of this week’s papers, along with 
all of next week’s copies. If I have an emergency absence,
it’s a lot easier for my sub. 


5. Make sure you have a sub folder. I also have a one week 
reading lesson plan and a three day language arts lesson 
plan. I have many grammar review sheets along with a sticky 
note with sketchy directions.

Above all, (this is for 8th grade) don’t feel you need to 
grade everything. Some things can be done just for practice, 
others for a grade. Some things can be self-corrected by the 
students.  And some things NEED to be graded by the teacher. 
In grammar, I grade very little.  I grade their writing.  But most of the grammar sheets and assignments are self-
corrected. I grade the assessments.

Just a few of my ideas.

-Karen