Okay, Marisa. I tell myself as I watch my students walk out of my first period class. Hold it together. Don’t cry. You are fine. Everything will be fine. You can do this.
“Have a good day!” Is what I actually say, praying the kids don’t hear my voice crack a little at the end. Keep it together. Keep it together. I’m willing myself to hold back tears. First period didn’t go as planned, in fact, it went a little south. Now, I’ve always been hard on myself, so I realize that my class period probably wasn’t as terrible and dramatic as I was thinking it was—but I was almost finished with my first student teaching placement. I wanted to feel confident…not like I couldn’t control my classroom.
My first period had started with its usual grumbles and mumbles. A student who often gives me trouble was giving me grief about Tuesdays with Morrie, asking if we would ever be done because he just haaateddddd it. On a typical day, I ignore him. I usually ignore him. I’ll say a comment or two to shut him up, then I’ll redirect and continue on with class as if nothing happened. This works most days, but today, for whatever reason, was different.
My troublesome boy turned to face his classmates, started chatting, and blatantly ignored my directions. I tried again. I redirected, called him out and asked him to open his book, and after waiting a minute or two for everyone to be at the same page, I began reading. This student, on and off, was making under-his-breath comments. He spoke out a few times. And then he outwardly complained and even swore as I passed out a short sheet of three comprehension questions. “Wait, we actually had to pay attention while you read?”
I ignored him, refocused the class, and explained the questions. I said that any talking would not be accepted. I said this again, a few minutes later, when a few students started whispering. When it happened again, I used my ‘I’m-Not-Messing-Around-Voice,’ which shut them up for at least a few minutes.
My troublesome boy, however, kept chatting on and off for the remainder of the period–speaking out of turn, goofing around, just being distracting. I was fed up!
I was on my own for a day, and with a substitute sitting in the back of the room observing. After class, I pulled my student aside and talked to him about his behavior. He was cocky and still rude, but I thought I got the point across.
After he left, I talked to the sub, who expressed her opinion on kicking him out of the classroom. I can’t say I agree, but she a good perspective.
I was so frustrated with I felt was a loss of control of the classroom. I had come too far in the last seven weeks to feel like I had taken steps back! I held back tears as I prepared for the next class period.
Now that I’m reflecting, a full twenty-four hours later, and after having a wonderfully on-task, productive first hour class, I realized one very important thing I need to remember on my difficult days: It’s just a bad day. I’m not a bad teacher.
I’m going to have my days where the class gets a little rowdy. I’m going to have students that don’t want to do what I’m asking them to do. I’m going to have days where I can’t get my points across, when students don’t want to sit in their assigned seats, where everyone’s talkative, and when I might just want to cry. But I’m not a bad teacher. And I can do this.
So as I move forward into next week, I need to remember to calm down, not worry too much, and know that I’ll have ups and downs in every classroom, in every placement, and with every job. They’re just bad days. I’m not a bad teacher.