Some days I love teaching, but to be honest some days I don't even want to go to school. Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up feeling sick with a runny nose and sore throat from my students. Side Note: As a class, we've already gone through five Kleenex boxes, and we don't have many! Granted, we've had five bloody noses, a few students abusing the use of Kleenexes (using them to wipe off sweat), and students who don't know how to fully use a Kleenex, but still, that's a lot of Kleenexes (and I live in warm place). Anyways, I started thinking about some of my fifth graders and different things that they have done that have been disrespectful, and it just really got me down. I have lots of patience for misbehavior for younger children, but not much for upper elementary. Why? I understand many times that younger kids don't understand some things or forget more easily, but in my mind, this should not be as big as a problem in upper elementary. The problems that begin happening in upper elementary are because students are purposely disrespectful and disobedient, and I don't have any tolerance for that. It annoyed me as a child, and it annoys me now. For example, during the first week, one student wore a hat to school just to see if I would notice and what I would do. This past week, I saw one student throwing her graded work away before bringing it home. I told her that was not allowed, and she lied saying that she had already showed her parents. I had just graded it that morning! The next day, I found her work torn up and buried in our recycling bin as I was cleaning it out. These little acts of rebellion really bug me.
I went to school anyways, had a great prayer time with another teacher about my class, put on my happy face, and forgot about my feelings before school as soon as the students arrived. Some days are just like. Once I start teaching, I'm fine and content, bouncing from one activity to the next. This week, I'm going to work on seeking out ways to engage and excite my learners. They are rarely excited for learning, except when they are doing projects, which they make very long and time consuming. Last year I was able to make my first grade class excited about learning much more than I have been able to do with my older kids this year. I need to figure out what they like soon so that we will all be much happier with learning and teaching. Some days can be like pulling teeth (we have actually already had two lost teeth during class) to get enthusiasm in my classroom.
Last night was Meet the Teacher Night! I was excited and nervous to meet some of my parents. Since some only speak Spanish, I had the school secretary who is also a parent in my class translate. I explained that we are two grades but one class, how our day runs, our rules, their expected responsibilities, homework, and our classroom economy. Maybe I shouldn't have ended with our classroom economy, because a few parents had some very deep concern about why I make students pay to go to the bathroom or rent their desks. One set of parents were arguing about it in Spanish for a while. It really made me feel bad because I was doing what was best for our class in my opinion, and no students seemed to be having a problem with my policies in class. They knew why we had them, when they can go to the bathroom, and what I expect of them. In the end, these parents came up to argue their point afterward saying that their student had a urinary tract infection from not going to the bathroom during class and was starting girl issues, so I did understand their point and explained how I just needed to know about special circumstances. I'm willing to accommodate if I know it's an issue. I honestly don't believe her infection was my fault as they can go to the bathroom four times during the day for free with no more than two hours in between, and she's never asked me to use the bathroom during class. Afterward, I had about 6 other pairs of parents come up and say that they love my economy system, what I'm doing with the class, and that I shouldn't listen to just those one parents. That was very encouraging. In the end, I felt encouraged to continue my economy system, paying for bathroom, desks, chairs, and all, and will ask that student to use the bathroom every break we have this coming week so that I know she is using the bathroom every time she can.
Teaching is hard work. Planning, grading, and being emotionally prepared for the day takes so much time outside of school. Some days I just want to curl up and stay in bed, but I know I have the responsibility to the students to continue helping them learn. When I'm at school and see my students starting to arrive for the day, I know that we are going to make it through the day and have some fun with it too. I can't wait for next week, but first I need to think about some better ways to engage my learners.
In Social Studies, I am starting with a unit on the world, reading maps, and wanted to go back to the 1400s since we are doing world history from 1500 to 1800. I quickly realized my students didn't even know the continents, so we are spending time learning about them. I found my students love projects, so I think 14 students splits perfectly to have partners do a project on one of the seven continents. Before I finish, I'll show you some pictures from last week, when we put together world map puzzles (because what would a blog post be without pictures?).
Well, that's all for today. Have a great weekend, and happy teaching! I will try to post more soon because I have so much to share.