My reflection on this week: it’s okay to be tough.
Going in to teaching, I wanted my students to respect me and like me. Well, little did I know, high schoolers (especially tenth graders!) push buttons. And they don’t turn in assignments.
One of my very first speaking/speech-related assignments with Tuesdays with Morrie was simple. Bring three items or pictures of items that represent you or symbolize your family culture in some way. Then talk informally about each of them, explaining their significance.
Despite my seriousness in explaining, my writing the assignment on the board, giving them an assignment sheet, and even posting it on our classroom site, almost half the class did not come with three items.
I was furious! But I had to react, adapt, and change. So, I took the first ten minutes of class to let students search for online pictures of their items. As they did that, I recorded who had their items and then took 5 points from the ones who didn’t…it was a 10 point speech assignment, so that really hurt some kids!
I realized, in this moment especially, that sometimes you just have to be the mean teacher. I was making a statement right away–I would not tolerate laziness in my classroom. When I asked for something to be done, it needed to be done.
Failing a good majority of my classes on this assignment was tough, but I learned that sometimes I need to establish myself and my expectations firmly. Hopefully now things will start to be followed through.
My goal as I head into this next week is to find a middle ground. I don’t need to be the super b*tch, but I don’t need to be a pushover. Expectations are high, but I also will be approachable, understanding, and patient. Hopefully this next week will go smoothly with homework assignments and my goals vs. student realities.