“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”
This pretty effectively sums up my teaching experience thus far. Overall, I feel we are moving in the right direction, but it varies from day to day. Thankfully, it seems that more of my headaches lately come from the aspects of teaching that have little/nothing to do with my students, which is a relief. If we can keep it that way throughout the year, I may come out of this with a shred of sanity.
To encourage good behavior and some healthy competition, my classes engage in “The Behavior Games”, a blatant parody of The Hunger Games. I track their behavior and class points are awarded for each “perfect” class period. The class with the most points by the end of the quarter gets to have a party and bragging rights. First quarter literally came down to the final minutes of the last class of the quarter before a winner was determined.
Doing this program, I have gotten to know the collective personalities of my classes, and have actually been pretty surprised at how distinctive they are:
4th Period: The Nerd
Fitting for the science teacher’s advisor group, this class is full of little nerdlings. Among the many topics we have discussed so far this year: Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, The Avengers, the election, 9/11, and more.
They have a lot of energy, but more often than not it is channeled in a meaningful way, helping them engage in great discussions. Well behaved at the beginning of the year, they have slowly fallen off the wagon due to their hyperactivity and enthusiasm. Even with that, they are my favorite to win the 2nd Quarter Behavior Games.
5th Period: The Jock
The first 2-3 weeks of school, I dreaded this class each day. Chock full of challenging students, they should be any new teacher’s worst nightmare. Not all of them are athletes, but many of the most boisterous are, and they have made it clear how little they care about school. About the only way to control them initially was to threaten their athletic livelihoods. However, TFA may not be completely wrong. Like the best Institute fairy tales, I have found ways to connect with some of the ringleaders of this group, which allows me temporary teaching privileges from time to time. Though often vaguely off task, they have improved over time and are in a good spot to be a dark horse contender for the Behavior Games crown come December.
7th Period: The Popular One
Needlessly cocky, often shockingly sarcastic, this group is a good fit for my personality. Though they have their share of avoidable behavior issues (tardy totals are huge for some of them), they are my best behaved class day in and day out, knowing just where the line is between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Because they tend to complete my daily lessons more efficiently and effectively than my other groups, they have had the opportunity to explore other important issues like the elections and poverty on the reservation. They are the reigning champions from 1st Quarter, and have thus far jumped out to a small lead in the early days of Quarter 2.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the group of students that I have this year. Though challenging, they are awesome and I only hope they continue their level of commitment through the rest of this year and into the 7th grade.