Today was my second day teaching at Douglas County High School. I only taught one class today and it is my biggest class – I had 13 students. Two were girls and 11 were boys. It was a loud and rambunctious class. There were lots of side conversations and random comments. The kids were good-natured, but it took a lot of management skills for me to get them to pay attention. In fact, one of my teammates looked in my classroom (I think to see if I needed a hand), saw everything was under control and left. I think that had I looked stressed, she would have come in and yelled at the kids (she did this one day I was subbing and had a difficult time getting the kids to settle down).
But, things were under control. First, I told the kids that, “I could wait.” As someone who is hearing impaired, I sometimes have a very difficult time hearing one person when a bunch of people are talking. Add to that, the acoustics of my classroom (with the high ceiling and skylights), it doesn’t take much background noise to cause me to have difficulties.
When the students settled down I told them my opinion about homework – I think that it is unnecessary. Busy work is just that and if it is important work, then I should be able to teach it during class. BUT, if they choose to goof around, waste time, and make it difficult to teach, we wouldn’t be able to cover as much material as I planned. And if it was their fault because of bad behavior, I had no problem requiring them to complete the work at home. Beyond that, they probably wouldn’t have much homework.
I didn’t really have any issues after that. They listened as I was talking and then got to work. I don’t think that it is going to take more than once of them having to take stuff home for them to decide that they will do what they are supposed to do in class.
This class had a lot of questions about the All About Me Project. Questions I never thought of. For example, “I don’t want to talk about my dad – can I leave him out?” Of Course. “I have pictures on my FaceBook page. Can I use the computer to access my page and use the pictures?” Yes. “What about getting pictures off our phones?” Please do. “Can I do a poster and then write out the answer to the questions about my life after high school?” If that is the way you want to do it.
The best question, though, was “Why can’t I work on it at home?” Duh. If I’m giving you class time to work on it, and you want to do it at home, what are you going to do during class? You need to be working in class. You can work on your slides and insert the pictures next class period after you bring them from home. This student then told me that he would .to work on it at home. I told him I’d prefer that he worked on it in class. He told me that he wanted to have the pictures as he worked on his project, I said that he could leave spaces for them. I also told him that I didn’t want him to do it at home. I wanted his work without input from his parents. I wanted his ideas, not influenced by anyone else. That I wanted to see what he could do on his own.
This student is going to be a challenge. He seems to need to be moving and he seems to have difficulty concentrating for very long. He didn’t really get started on his project and I’m curious what he will bring in on Friday. I’m going to introduce my class to the “fidgets” that I have and see if I can get him to use one while he is in my classroom. For those of you who don’t know, a “fidget” is essentially something to play with while doing other work. Some people like to squeeze a ball, or work with putty. Some people concentrate better when sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair. I have some putty and a bunch of different squeeze toys. I have bean bags and Floam too. Maybe this will help his concentration. Maybe not. But I did learn one thing about this student – he loves puzzles/riddles – so I may just have to provide incentives for him to be on task. He already found the riddle calendar on my desk. I have several lateral thinking books, maybe these will work . . .