This week was…interesting. I gave the first test that I’ve written so far. (The past few final assessments have been papers/projects.) I was discouraged by the lack of studying that they did and was especially disappointed by the fact that they were not finished with the test by the end of the period. I suppose that was just a mistake on my part in making it to long, but I feel that it was handled well enough when I told them that they could have time the next day to work on the essay portion alone. Giving this test was one of the first times thus far that I’ve really seen how accommodations work in the classroom. For the most part, the students with 504 plans are allowed 50% more time for their tests, which was easily arranged. However, this week I also saw how much some students struggle with things that I take for granted. For example, one student completely failed a portion of the test. He told me that he did not even remember taking it. I sat down with him after school and actually read the questions to him. I wasn’t giving hints, or coaching him in the right direction even. But somehow, in my reading the questions to him and modeling effective thinking strategies outloud, he was able to earn a B on the test. I was really proud of him, and he told me two things that I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon. First of all, he said that a teacher had never taken the time to do that for him. Maybe he’s never asked, maybe he’s never struggled that much…I don’t know. (But, his 504 does allow for it, so I wasn’t breaking any rules…) Secondly, he said that his grade on this test has given him the confidence he needs to finish the year well. That interaction was what got me through a week of struggling with discipline problems and unexpected issues.
Another triumph of the week was in my world history classes on the 20th. As we continue through the Ancient Rome unit, I took one day to talk about gladiators, and the students really enjoyed it (a lecture, at that!) One student said “Miss Jensen, this is the best history class I’ve ever had. Seriously.”
This week was slightly challenging in that we had a half day (periods 1-4 followed by an assembly) and took another day to go see the school play. Despite the gladiator day, it just wasn’t enough to keep them focused for the rest of a very unusual week….
In reflecting on the readings this week from The First Days of School, I feel like I actually struggle with this in that I have no problem smiling and saying “please” and “thank you,” but I have allowed certain issues with classroom management to persist to the point that saying “please” and “thank you” simply isn’t cutting it. (Not like I thought it would, but it’s certainly an important part!) As I continue to figure out an effective way to handle behavior issues in the classroom, it will be important to remember this chapter.