Facing the Music

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Today has been an exercise in patience.

The day started with my leaving early for work to stop at the grocery store in order to buy some foods that Ancient Greeks might have eaten. I struck out trying to find fresh figs and pomegranates. So instead, I gave up on the pomegranates and found some dried figs. I also picked up some feta and brought some Greek olives from home to let them try.

I got to school and began preparing for the day when I got a message to go to the office. It turns out that one of my students had talked to his grandfather (who is his guardian) about the project he turned in the day before. The project was a small poster on a Greek god or goddess that had been assigned to each student. This student chose to do the poster on a very large piece of poster paper. When he brought it to show to me, I told him that his poster looked beautiful, but asked him if he remembered what the size requirement was. He told me that he never heard anything about what size the poster was supposed to be, but it was explained several times throughout the course of 3 days.

Well, this student went home and told Grandpa that I said nothing about his project but that he did it wrong. So, the meeting in the office was about how I am making this student feel inferior and that he can’t do anything right. I assured his grandfather that that had not been the case, but he told me that I was wrong and that if I was going to be that way with students I shouldn’t be allowed to teach (Cue big sigh here). He then proceeded to tell me that his grandson was teased and tormented by his classmates and that during band class, other students were hitting him with their instruments. I let him know that I would make sure to bring that up to the band teacher.

I chose not to say that this student’s behavior invited torment. He often seemingly begs for other students to pick on him. I’m not always sure how to handle that, but luckily he will be moving into a more intensive program at the semester. I hope that helps him with some of the social issues he seems to have. He has a lot of other problems going on at home and he could use a boost right now.

The rest of the day was just as problematic.

I pitched my new incentive program to my morning class and they were apathetic to it. They don’t buy in, they don’t care, and it’s evident that they do not see me as an authority figure. I’m giving it until the end of the week and if they are still not into it, I will have to try some other measures next week. I had hoped not to resort to negative reinforcement, but unless I can come up with another plan, I have no other options for that class. They talk over me constantly, and I can’t seem to get their attention. This has a lot to do with starting off on the wrong foot, I think.

In contrast, my afternoon kids are really into the star student thing, and they are excited about potentially getting a reward at the end of the week. They are making an effort. We talked a lot about making our classroom a community and they are really taking that to heart. Interestingly, having the same talk with my morning kids had zero effect.

It seems like I am complaining a lot today. It’s been a rough one for me, and I came home and slept for a couple of hours. It amazes me how much student teaching takes out of me. In reflection of the events of the day, I think this is just a difficult week. I honestly had not anticipated transitioning into student teaching being this hard. Perhaps that is my own hubris, or my ignorance in never having been in this position before. But the rest of the week has to be better. I’m determined to be good at this. I just don’t feel it this week.

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