Mirrors into Windows

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 01 2011


Last week, “upheaval” was one of our vocab words.

This week, I teach a new grade, with 32 new kids, a new classroom (in a different building), new curriculum, etc. After teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers in various programs and then 5th graders for a week, third grade feels like a different planet when it comes to their social development, behavior, and academic skills. Goodness! They cry, and have to be reminded to blow their noses!

The switch happened on Tuesday, so it was pretty abrupt and students and teachers alike have been slightly disoriented this week, I think. It’s all happening because of enrollment numbers – not enough big kids, lots and lots of little kids compared to what was expected. I felt pretty devastated at first (another vocab word; but seriously, I wanted to teach middle school originally), but I’m settling in now and feeling somewhat intimidated but also fired up about this new charge.

In my three days of third grade, I’ve had ups and down. I’m going really heavy on the reward system (“tickets for you! tickets for you! I love how you’re sitting up! tickets for you!”) but feel slightly guilty about ¬†building the “work-for-praise” culture rather than the “love-of-learning” culture. But, baby steps, I suppose. We’ll transition to the intrinsic value of education one day…

Management has been rough, and I haven’t had any major management trials before this week. (I know, it’s overdue.) I need to hammer out an age-appropriate consequence system over the weekend. Like I said, they cry. A lot. And can’t sit still.

My first priorities: figure out skill levels to group homogenously and start differentiated instruction, call parents, have an extremely detailed consequence and reward system. Fortunately the state learning benchmarks are essentially the same, just somewhat simplified for 3rd grade as compared to 5th.

My brain is doing weird swings in the midst of overdrive to some kind of minimalism: just tomorrow’s lesson, just the most overdue email (just coffee). I need to work toward some kind of balance.

But first, tomorrow’s lesson…

One Response

  1. Don’t feel bad about bribes. If they can’t learn because they’re goofing around, they can’t learn to love to learn.

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