I love Mondays. Even though it's my fullest day and ends with a staff meeting, tomorrow I don't have to start until after recess. I give myself a break on Mondays when I get home. It's a no school work night for me. Tonight I'd already worked out what was for dinner, yummy chicken fajitas, but on the way home I also bought a Turkish Delight to have with my cuppa after tea. It's not hard for me to get into a blissful state but I did tell myself that I would have the chocolate after I'd written my post for #28dayofwriting. Of course I didn't stick to that but I truly believed that I'd do it easily anyway because I'm committed to going the distance and I'm enjoying it.
Writing each post makes me reflect on the day to try to find something that is interesting to write about. Today turned out to be a doozy. Something was going on with the year 9's that was outside my control and it came into the classroom after lunch. I had a lesson planned and for the most part delivered but our class had a new student and one whose history I didn't know about before she showed up. She gave me a few details about herself but all the work that I'd done with these students over the last two weeks to get them to take part in the lesson, behave respectively towards me and each other seem to unravel before my eyes seemingly because of the change of dynamics of the class and whatever was happening with the 9's that day.
I could see I'd need to change my approach a bit, be a bit more firmer, remind the others about their behaviour and generally put out spot fires all the while trying to help and encourage those who were just wanting to do their work. The new girl kept trying to provoke a verbal stoush with one of the more quiet girls who seemed to have taken on a new personality The cheeky boys had fun putting their ten cents worth in to keep the tensions high and a few times in the seemingly never-ending 47 minutes we were together I was sure a cat fight would break out.
Early in my teaching career I may have fuelled this situation by trying to force control with a raised voice and and ears that had stopped listening. Today, thankfully I could remain calm, but firm and turn the conversation around to behaviours and learning. I must have repeated the same phrases over and over again: "please sit down, try this question, I'll help you, turn around please, please don't swear". I kept repeating te following mantra in my mind, "breathe and then breathe again". Finally the girls wanted to negotiate a treat for themselves in exchange for their good behaviour. They wanted to be allowed to listen to music and then they would work, just like I wanted to eat my Turkish Delight before I wrote my blog. They had evidence that it worked in the past; you know how it goes, "Mr Yr8MathsTeacher, he let us listen to music and we were good for 3 months". Needless to say, I gave them the assurance I would investigate their evidence but there would be no deal until their behaviour improved first. I've at least got a bit of negotiating room now.
I left the class totally exhausted and wondering where to now but also feeling happy that there was no cat fight, there was still control and I still managed to learn some new things about the maths ability of some of the strudents as I found the moments to work with them one-one amidst the chaos.
I'd have to say that I truly earned my money today.