Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Settling In for the Long Haul

We've now gone through two and a half weeks of school. I'm getting to know my students better and better and we're coming to know what to expect of one another. In another couple of weeks we'll have settled in quite nicely. The good news is that the place where we're settling is a good one in which to be, while the place I landed three weeks in last year was no where close to what I wanted.

While not every one of my students is listening and completing their work, I feel that the few problems I'm experiencing with management can be dealt with. Last year at this time my class and I had settled in for a repeat of WWI- trench warfare for the rest of the year. Because the tone set was one of struggle and me fighting to take control of the class, that was the routine we settled into the first month of school and it was one I had to deal with the rest of the school year. On most days the students and I fought to gain ground while in the long run very little progress was made. We spent the entire year charging across No Man's Land, them throwing paper balls, pencils and pens and me firing angry directives back at them, what seemed like all day every day. It as exhausting and it ground us all down.

The bad news for first year teachers is that if you've gotten off to a rocky start, you have to wait until next year for a brand new one. The good news is that it's not too late to really dig in, make sure things are consistent and get to work. While the year is going to be a trying one, your learning curve can be drastic and your students can certainly learn a lot. Make sure you're talking to colleagues and always working to make things better. Start developing procedures and ideas with your students and, even if they don't seem to be working, stick to your guns as you get bigger guns.

If you're doing anything like I did last year, you may be trying a thousand different things right now simply to get the students quiet and working. That's a mistake. Pick a couple strategies and stick to them. The students need structure and if you are trying a new management strategy every two days they know that if they ignore you enough whatever "rule" you're trying to push on them will go away. Working to improve does not mean trying a thousand new things with your students. In part it means working to get your game face on and to keep it on, as well as figuring out your teacher persona. As you do that, variation will decrease and your management will improve.

Today's Wine: Laurel Lake Chardonnay Reserve. This was a wine we had on Saturday's wine tour. I haven't posted much about white wines because the big reason for posting about wine is to promote good health and the white wines don't do nearly as much for you a the reds. That said, when I come across a white I really like it's something I usually tell my friends about. This one fits the bill. It's smooth, hardly acidic and you can really taste the vanilla and fruit.

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