Yesterday was the first day of school for me, and it was a doozy. I’m just beginning my fourth year teaching, which in NC means that I no longer have a “probationary” teaching license.
So… you’d think I’d know what I’m doing by now…
But yesterday certainly proved that I do not. I was impatient and ill-prepared. I underestimated just how radical my classroom management approach would be for these kids. And perhaps even if I hadn’t, the first day of school was bound to go poorly. It was just too different from everything my kids know.
I was reading a teaching blog recently (I forget which one, but in general, it’s one I really enjoy), and the author said something to the effect of… “Whatever you do, make sure your students know that you’re in control in your classroom, not them.”
Now maybe this is my foster parenting background coming out, but it seems like kids need control. That’s why they push so hard to exert it in really illogical ways (e.g., refusal to eat a food they typically like). I want kids to feel in control, because being in control makes us feel secure. My sister and I were talking about guys that pick you up and how much we despise this. It puts them in control of our physical selves, and they doesn’t feel good. At all. I assume my students feel the same way.
I want every single student to know they are in control. Of their physical selves. Of their academic future. Of their choices. They make choices. They accept the consequences. They are in control. If their behavior is deemed “unacceptable” by me or the school, then it is our responsibility to implement healthy boundaries (i.e., consequences).
Example: One of my students was talking in line yesterday. This violates a school rule and potentially disrupts the classes that we walk past. So it’s my job to teach her, guided her to making a better choice, and if necessary, implement an appropriate boundary if the behavior continues. So I leaned down and whispered to her, “Who could you stand in line so that it would be easier for you to stay quiet?” And she looked up at my with this look on her face like I was the craziest person she’d ever met.
This approach to classroom management is so very different from what most of these kids know… and I know that it will take time for them to get used to my style. And I know that it will take time for them to learn self-regulation. It will take time, but I’m confident that the effort will be well worth it.
So the first day of school was full of kids misunderstanding me. And for some reason, I was blindsided by this and quickly became impatient. I’m so thankful for the way kids will let you start fresh each day.