Tag Archive | Classroom management

Crappy Teacher

I guess I’m trying to make up for lost time. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, but I just haven’t had the chance. I’m glad to be procrastinating doing my laundry and blogging instead.

I figured out why one my classes seemed to be getting progressively more poorly behaved. I’ll keep you in suspense while I explain.

One of my classes had a class list that made other teachers cringe. In my wonderful student profile survey, they all explained that they hate math. Joy. They also solely are taking math to get out of high school. Double joy.

As the days progressed, my classroom management got worse. I started out the year as the nice teacher with really strict rules. Then I morphed into the really strict teacher, who was grouchy all the time, and had so many tough rules that I couldn’t possibly enforce them all. I tried detention. Kids didn’t show up, so I doubled it. I had a student who racked up four hours. We had a “Bathroom Board” so that I knew how long my students were gone for washroom and/or drink breaks. Forty minutes is excessive, don’t you think? I don’t really want to go on, but let’s just say that there may or may not have been laser pointers.

I had an epiphany while I was at a conference. I’m not sure where it hit me, or why it did, but it occurred about 10:21 a.m. The more poorly my students behaved, the more worse of a teacher I became. I’d threatened my student with boring notes, and I’d followed through. My classes were getting progressively crappier, as was my students’ behaviour. No wonder. I didn’t enjoy teaching the class, and I’m CERTAIN they didn’t enjoy being there either.

So I decided to change things. I took about a week and sunk the majority of my time into revamping my entire upcoming unit plan. I created a “flip-flopped” classroom (for an overview, see my previous post).

I can honestly say I was terrified. I had admin support though, so I gave it a shot. And it kind of worked.

I won’t say my management problems are gone, but they are certainly much better and improving as we speak (or write/read as the case may be. Except that it is Saturday, so my students aren’t in my class, but you get my point).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I learned that teacher-student relationships go both ways. I need to be a good teacher to have good students. I can’t “crappy-teach” them to be good students.

Why Good People Matter

I cannot believe how blessed I am to have a small core group of math majors here at the U of R. For the majority of us, we’ve known each other since first year, and taken EMTH (math major classes) together since second year. We’ve gain a few wonderful people along the way, but on the whole, we’ve remained a united core group.

The Group of Math Majors

The Core Group of Math Majors

Teaching has evolved to be a profession of sharing, communication, and collegial relationships. Getting to know other educators, whether its in the staff room, via twitter, or in an education class, is professional development at its finest. I’m so lucky to be learning with a group of marvelous minds. We have the freedom to bounce ideas off one another, laugh about the number of coffees required to complete a project, and collaborate on our work. This environment has definitely been the biggest and most positive influence on my education so far. No textbook or class can make up for the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in the last four years.

A funny thing happened last week: I had a huge mind shift over reading week. Initially when I got back to school after my internship, I was so antsy to get back into the classroom. I was completely unmotivated to work at all. I had no desire to work for the extra mile. I thought that the last semester was going to be a real downer. I don’t know exactly what cause the mental change, but I think a combination of attending WestCAST, alone time to be with my thoughts, building my twitter network, blogging more often, reading more blogs, reflecting for a lot of classes, spending time with non-education friends, and spending time with education friends lead to my mind-shift.

I want to learn. I want my students to learn. I want to be a better teacher. I’m not done learning how to be a better teacher. Learning to teach doesn’t just happen on the job. I have 14 fantastic resources every day at EMTH (13 peers and my professor), and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.

I came back from WestCAST absolutely jazzed about teaching. It’s not that I necessarily learned about a ground breaking teaching methods or some miracle classroom management technique. I learned about a lot of things, most of which were building on ideas I’d been pondering for a while now. However, I started to digest all of the ideas and concepts I ran into and decided to become my own teacher–I want to be the best for my students and for myself.

I could get into a whole other can of worms here with regards to assessment and evaluation, but I won’t. I will comment that this year, grades really aren’t important to me. This year, I want to learn because I can, not because I have to in order to keep up my average.

I know this epiphany wouldn’t have happened if I were just taking courses and not interacting with my core group of math majors. I can absolutely thank (or blame…) them for my epiphany and all my learning to date. EMTH 450 (Winter 2012) — if you are reading this, thank you. And Rick, if you are reading this, thank you.