This week was tough due to the fact that I was not feeling well; I stocked my area with tissues and hand sanitizer and convinced myself it was time to make it through the week. The students, for the most part, were respectful of the fact that I wasn’t feeling well and were generally cooperative and willing to work. I feel like things went rather well this week as I continue to come to grips with the fact that it is now Spring and students aren’t exactly excited about sitting in the classroom while the sun is shining and the temperature rising.
As I continue to plan for classes I have been trying to be more aware of involving students in a meaningful way. This means less lecture and more activities! Coincidentally, the reading from the Wongs’ talked this week about increasing student learning. They covered several areas of interest, and after reading several of them I either felt convicted or comforted. Some of the things that I have been trying to do fall into place with what the Wongs are saying; on the other hand, I’m beginning to realize how much work it takes to do less work in the classroom. To put it in their words, “the effective teacher has the students spend time working and earning their own achievement and success” while “the person who does the work is the only one doing the learning.” That being said, the students should be putting in more work into the class session.
Another interesting (and vitally important) point made in this chapter involves students’ readiness to learn. A classroom procedure in place before I began my student teaching and one that I will take with me is this: you are expected to be prepared for class. It’s as simple as that. The text points out that “successful people prepare themselves daily for their work. That is why they are successful.” In this classroom, students are expected to be prepared with materials (including paper, writing utensil, and textbook) and homework. If a student comes to class and does not have their textbook, they are permitted to go to their locker and retrieve it, but they will be marked tardy. Students have learned through this policy that there are consequences for not being prepared to learn. Although the textbook is only one piece to preparation, it seems to have shown students that they need to be ready and on time. Of course, there are still plenty of times in which students do not have supplies, but they are told that they need to get them from their peers without interrupting class.
Overall, this chapter, in conjunction with this week, was helpful for me to see that it is okay to push students and expect a lot from them. I should set expectations and follow through with them. “Follow through” is my goal for this upcoming week (and the weeks to come.) In U.S. history we talked about the Cold War. I used this cartoon to illustrate how the different sides were “battling” against each other, and asked the students, “what good would arrows do in a battle when you have atomic bombs?” followed by “what do these arrows represent?” I got some good responses, but the overall theme was that the arrows represented threats—ineffective ones at that. While I’m not afraid of retaliation for using my “bombs” (detention, staying after class, etc.), I do need to hold students accountable for their actions. When I say I’m going to use a punishment, I should actually do it (as opposed to asking repeatedly.) Although this will be a challenge for me, it will be a really helpful attitude as I finish out the year!
 Wong, H. K., and Wong, R. The First Days of School (Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, 2004) 200