So Damn Unprepared

I thought I was ready.

I worked with my teachers to create a lesson plan, determined what standards I wanted the students to reach, and wrote a lesson that used the classroom's available technology.

Then the bell rang.

Yesterday, I used the word "disaster" and was careful to note that it was a SF Earthquake of 89 disaster. Today, I can unequivocally say, it was dust bowl 1930s.

I'm a pretty genial person; people I meet generally like me within minutes of talking to me. These kids, though, they just... These kids, though, they... These kids.

I know what I did wrong, which is everything. I didn't keep my class in control; I didn't teach the lesson quickly enough; I couldn't keep them interested. I'm pretty sure I know how to fix the first, I can definitely fix the second, but the third is a problem.

I observed another teacher and determined a better way to keep students in control. Most of what it comes down to is that I need to be a complete hardass. No smiles, no happy looks, nothing that would even approach the level of good cheer I'd deal out to a waiter or barista. Nope, it's complete and total hardassery, 100% of the time. It's the only thing these kids understand, and the only way they'll respect me.

The second is just a matter of setting a schedule and sticking to it. No big trick, really. I just need to be sure I'm keeping the class occupied.

The final problem, about keeping their attention, is tough. Today we were working on rounding, and I held them for about three minutes. After that, they didn't care, weren't interested, and were actively trying to get on my nerves. I didn't crack, but I also failed to really inspire them. There was dead time because the technology froze, but I did too much talking. The best way to keep students out of trouble is to keep them engaged.

Engagement is an issue for every teacher, but as a first-year teacher I will have less of a schema to work with when trying to figure out how to grab their attention. I need more visuals, more interesting experiments, and I need to push their buttons--but in a good way. We'll see how that works out for me.

After the debacle, I got to watch another teacher teach the same material. I noticed that she kept students engaged much better by pushing through the material quickly. I was impressed by her, and I told her so. We teachers need ego boosts as often as possible. She will be a fantastic teacher when she gets her own classroom.

HOWEVER, did one of her students tell her that she was the best teacher and the nicest and that the student wished she could be her teacher forever? No? Oh, that's because one of my sweet little popinjays told me that exact thing. After feeling like garbage following my first solo lessons, I assume this was the universe sort of evening out.