Today was a day of days! Monday was hard after coming back from a 4 day weekend/snow days. Yesterday was pretty frazzling as well, so yesterday night I stayed an extra 3 hours after school to really prepare for today. I came into today an extra 20 minutes early and was very very prepared, but for lack of a better word, my students would not shut up or listen all day! Everything took forever! Instead of the 1 minute it takes to clean up and line up it took 5. Instead of transitioning in the carpet quickly and quietly, it took FOREVER. At one point in the day I actually made tally marks on the board counting how long it took past a reasonable amount of time for the students to come to the carpet. I got up to 100 tallies before the majority of students showed me they had listened to directions.
I swear, I pulled out ever classroom management strategy that we have ever used this year (and some of my own on the spot) and it seemed like nothing was working!
Finally, my mentor teacher had "had it". She rarely ever cuts in while I am talking or formally in charge, but after I had repeated myself for the millionth time today, she gave them "Come to Jesus" Speech #1 (don't know what I am talking about see Come to Jesus Meeting). She asked the students what my directions were (that I had repeated 3 times in the last minute) and no one could answer. There were guesses, but no where close. The class was silent as she explained how frustrating it was for teachers, especially me learning how to be a teacher, to have to repeat ourselves over and over and see students doing the wrong thing or not learning because of their behavior. She had the perfect timing b/c I was about ready to either fly off the handle or burst into tears. It worked. We were back on track and independent work time during CAFE was quiet and productive.
Now lets move on to the first CAFE independent work time to our Group activity...it start again. This time it is interrupting during directions. My turn. "Come to Jesus" part 2. A short, but effective. I give a similar talk, but focused on how many fun and exciting things we could be doing if we could just listen and follow directions and, one of my favorites, if you listen to ALL of my directions, I will likely answer your questions.Talk over. Begin cleaning up and move to the carpet.
Two minutes later, Come to Jesus part 3. I go at it again. This time in a quieter tone. My talk is on "Do you think Mrs. Baumann and I like yelling at you? Do you think we want to spend our whole day yelling at you? Again, we are quiet and have a great time looking for our word wall words in a page from children's literature (Did you know over 75% of the words in children's books are sight words? We proved it.).
We go back to our seats...everything is good until our IA walks in (an hour and a half late...) and disrupts the previously silent independent work time. It is over. They never get quiet again, but my mentor teacher and I agree to let them go b/c it was an adult's influence this time).
Come the Jesus part 4: Tag-Team. Instead of centers you get to deal with the pile of work in the unfinished basket and then you can look through the 30 papers without names on them (yes, I actually counted...I started a tally. Our goal is to remember our name on every single paper. If we have a week without a single 'no name' tally, I promised them I will bring in a special treat. The treat is TBD and I am counting on it not happening, but if it does they deserve something special). Those of you who did all of your work correctly can play games independently. This works well, but the "concentration" noise level (nothing above a whisper so your neighbor's can concentrate) did not last long. Neither teacher has the will to shut them up so we let it go and only re-direct students who are excessively noisy.
Class meeting/ pack up. We gave the directions. The same ones as always and chaos came. It was like they had never packed up a day in their life. Wait we need our bookbags? Oh the papers need to go in my folder? I need to make sure my table space is clear? A lunch box...what is that? Oh, I brought a coat today? This went on FOREVER! Well like 10 minutes (which is forever in teacher-time, especially on a 4-5minute routine normally). Come to Jesus Speech Grand Finale. This one was my mentor teacher's turn. Repeat speeches part 1-4 and finish off with "the next 5 minutes will be silent. If you talk you will pull a card. If you are not silent, you will pull a card. If you have no cards left, tomorrow morning you get to call home and explain to mom and dad that for the first time ever you had to call home because of your behavior." ((pure silence)).
I finished up packing to make my way to seminar and said goodbye to the class. At first no one responded b/c they were afraid to talk. "It's okay to say good bye"
And thus, a "Come to Jesus" kind of day. To end on a positive note, my mentor teacher and I talked about how behavior had been this week. She explained to me something I had not really thought of, but that makes perfect sense...our class has really bonded. They are clearly comfortable here. Many students behave differently (and more relaxed/loosely) at home because they are comfortable here. Creating a community is extremely important to my mentor teacher and myself, and I believe our students have strong bonds and our classroom really is a community. There is give and take. This was a give day!