There’s a student in my core classes that really cracks me up.
He usually finishes his work early, so he always wants to derail the class by asking me where I’m from, how I spell my last name, where I go to school. Since he grasps the information really quickly, he likes to use the rest of his energy to mess with me. Once, I asked all of my students to tell me if I’d written an independent or dependent clause on the board. They all wrote the correct answer, and he wrote, “Hi.” Another time, I passed out sticky notes and asked everyone to write down one part of the lesson that made sense and one part that didn’t. Everyone else took it seriously, but he wrote, “I understand why people like pizza. What I don’t understand is why some people don’t like pizza.” He’s the reason I make everyone put their names on their sticky notes now.
He’s a great kid and obviously high-performing, but I have to work harder to keep him engaged so he’ll stay on task. I’ve started preparing more difficult assignments just for him. It’s honestly pretty fun to come up with new things for him to do, and because he always finishes early, it motivates some of the other high-performing students to push themselves, too. Plus, while he occasionally derails the class, it makes the lessons more fun when my students feel comfortable having a conversation with me.
My elective’s going well, too.
I talked to one of the directors about how difficult classroom management has been, and she told me part of it was confidence. When I tell my students to do something, I have to truly believe they’ll do it. The next day, in class, I had my students do another free write. I made it clear that that was the expectation, and when they tried to fight me, I shut them down. It felt weird–I’m not someone who likes to shoot down my students–but it was also necessary, since they needed me to take control. It didn’t work perfectly, but it worked better than what I’ve been trying. It was honestly pretty awesome. Two of my students still didn’t really take it seriously, but the rest wrote at least ten lines of a poem each. One of the students, the guy that was giving me such a hard time, has really gotten into the class now that he thinks of it as rap instead of poetry. He’s practicing rhyme and rhythm–yesterday, he even divided his poem/lyrics up into stanzas. It’s great to see him engaged and writing.
Also, after a few awkward days where I was afraid to use gendered language in my classroom at all in case I made another mistake, I finally worked things out with the student I misgendered. We bonded over anime and Orange Is the New Black, and in class yesterday, he wrote a poem that was packed with sensory details. Today, he even sat by me while the other students were playing games so he could just relax for a second. I think we’re finally on good terms.
While my poetry students have gotten started writing, they’re pretty uncomfortable with sharing what they come up with. They’ll let me pick up their writing at the end of class, but they get nervous if I try to read anything they’ve written out loud. One of my students wouldn’t even let me see what he had until he turned it in. I think this is a good sign, since it means they’re writing about things that matter to them, but it’s going to make performing difficult for them. I’ve got to figure out how to get them comfortable with sharing their work.
That’s all for now! Talk to you soon.