Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 03 2009

Getting Better

At least this week!  I don’t know if it is because I had such an amazing weekend or what but I came back to school yesterday NOT dreading it for the first time in a couple of weeks.  On top of that the day actually went smoothly and I even had the class that drives me absolutely crazy every time I have them.

Groups!  This is key, if you are a math teacher and do not think groups will work, think again.  I was hesitant to put my kids into groups because I was afraid that with all their behavior problems this would just make it worse — instead behavior was much easier to handle!  I am not sure why this is but kids are not prone to leaving their desks to get up and walk around and even though they may still be talking somehow it was a lot more subtle than before.  In addition to the fact that it helps the behavior (at least in my case) it also helps their learning.  Time and again studies show that students retain 90% of what they learn from their peers and only 10% of what they learn from their teachers.   Makes sense because little Jenny sure can explain to little Johnny in a lot better kid terms what I just said than myself.

Also, I decided instead of collecting work and waiting for the kids to have enough time to finish, I was just going to start being super strict.  I printed off seating charts and placed them inside a pocket protector.  I would walk around the class during the alotted time to see if they were working and when time was up I just started checking names.  It was surprising how even my least hard-working students were appalled that I did not give them more time and did not give them a check on top of that.  No one argued just tried harder on the next assignment.  My students are in the 8th grade and I think that this being the 2nd quarter now they need to up their game and so do I. 

Let’s hope that Unit 4 is a success and we see the data to back it up.  And to those of you who commented on my page, thanks so much!  It really helps and is inspiring and sometimes you just get down into a dark hole and you can’t see the light anymore but things do go back up, it’s just the nature of it all. 

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    a Teach For America teacher’s blog

    Middle School

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