In my last blog I expressed some questions and concerns that had been rattling around as I prepared myself for my first day on the job. I was anticipating a class full of students who were ready and willing to learn, but might need a helping hand to show them the way. I was certainly expecting some misbehavior and attention seekers, but what I got was much different than what I expected.
At my initial introductory meeting with my cooperating teacher, she had told me to “prepare myself”, which was at first a rather daunting statement, but I thought to myself, how bad could it really be? Well, I discovered quite quickly that I am in for a wild ride this semester.
On my first day of actual observation, I arrived bright and early to WCLL with high hopes for a productive and insightful day of learning, for both the students and myself. I got up to my classroom where my cooperating teacher was setting up for the day, and began to settle in. At around 8:40, students began to wander in. They saw me and were immediately interested in but certainly wary of my presence in the room. As their friends began to arrive they became more talkative and a little rambunctious. The class is primarily African American students, with two Asian twin brothers and one white boy. Once everyone had arrived, it took an unnecessarily long time for everyone to settle in. Most “forgot” their materials in their lockers, and the children who were assigned to distribute textbooks took about fifteen minutes to do so. They had been in the classroom about five minutes when I realized what I was in for.
Throughout the next two class periods, the students talked and yelled to each other incessantly, interrupting the teacher every five seconds. Students were sitting on top of their desks, talking to their friends and occasionally glancing around when the teacher spoke to them. Children were walking around, opening the classroom door, looking for people in the hallway. Swear words and curses fluttered from mouth to mouth, and the majority of the students in the room blatantly disobeyed, ignored, and argued with the teacher. One student, who seems to get emotional rather easily, screamed at a girl who was annoying him, screamed at the teacher when she didn’t do anything about it, and swiped his and everyone else’s books off his table. Aside from that, well under half the class had done their homework from the previous class.
After witnessing all this, the biggest question on my mind is: how do I as a teacher control a situation in which the majority of my students don’t want to be there, and certainly don’t care about school or learning?
Of course there are a few students who are hard workers and are there to learn. John, a hilarious and slightly rambunctious boy, seems to be very bright and interested in the class material, as well as the two Asian twins, who are quiet as mice and always working diligently, and the white boy named Michael, with whom I had the good fortune of being reading partners with when he was odd-man-out for the activity. Michael and I worked through the assignment together, and although he is a diligent worker, he still has great difficulty reading certain words. He would often substitute random words into the sentences using context clues to fill in words that might make sense where he could not read (or pronounce) the words that were actually on the page. I was glad to see that he was not afraid to ask me for help on words he didn’t know, and loved to read aloud despite his difficulty.
After day one, I realize that I certainly have my work cut out for me, and that this semester will definitely have its challenges and obstacles. Yes, it is a little daunting that I know most of the students may ignore me and misbehave the entire time I am there, but I am not intimidated. This will be a fantastic learning experience for me as I learn how to handle and address many different behavioral and academic issues I may be faced with in my own classroom.
Stay tuned for more updates on my experiences!
*Names have been changed