Warning: Wrote this quickly and didn't do much proofreading. Apologize in advance for errors.
Well, I have completed week one! Phew. Honestly, I can barely remember Monday because this week felt quite long. I am not in any sort of routine yet and once I am, I am sure that it will seem to go a little faster. My brain still doesn’t understand only seeing kids on random days instead of daily. I am sure it is only a matter of a few weeks to get into the swing of things. I am already Pavlovianly ready for a beer approximately one minute after the bell on a Friday. And by one, I mean at least five. I would like everyone to know that I am attempting to EXERCISE instead of what I really want to do every night when I come home- DRINK A BOTTLE OF WINE! I joined a gym this week! YAY! It is a mile walk each way from my house too, so I get plenty of random singing to my ipod done as I walk through Chesham.
Besides having lost complete control of one class and wearing mismatched shoes on Friday, (they were at least both Danskos so it is not like I was wearing one high heel and one flip-flop!) it was a good week. I learned to light a Bunsen burner, taught my Year 7s how to light one (but we forgot to wear our safety glasses so fortunately nobody singed off their eyebrows!) and did “freeze-frame” skits with my Year 9s about the digestive system where one kid got to play the part of poo. J
So, the fateful period where I lost control. Here’s what happened. And, first of all, before I say that I “lost control,” I actually did what love and logic says to do, I have just never actually had to go to this extreme with so many kids at the same time! My Head of Science and I decided that she would take the highest science students that I had been teaching because I literally know JACKSHIT about the content. Yes, I can learn it, it is not that hard, but I have to learn all new content for Year 11 too. And, since I am responsible for preparing them for an exam that decides their future, we decided that it would be better if she taught the kids who had to move at double the pace. So we swapped our classes and I was left with a class of only 19 kids, but 19 kids who are not altogether excited to be in science.
I had worked really hard to develop a project for them to work on to learn the content instead of the regular procedures that are usually followed in this science class. I thought maybe if they could see some sort of real-life application of what they were learning, it might be a little more motivating. They have all known the Head of Science since they were in Year 7 so they obviously have a good relationship with her and were really angry when they found out they would be switching classes to be with the new American lady. So, as we swapped classes and they all came in, there were four boys who literally acted as if I were not in the room. They were yelling back and forth at each other, dropping f-bombs every other word. It was basically like I wasn’t there. I gave them choices about moving seats, etc. and as the Love and Logic DVD said, I narrowed the choice each time. I finally asked one of them to leave as his final choice (I will think of saying next time, “Are you able to walk out of here on your own or do you need to be escorted?” I’m sure there will be a next time!)
When he wouldn’t get up, I did what the school protocol is and got my head of department whose classroom is only like 4 feet from mine. She came in, guns blazing, and took them into the hall where she had already called one of the Assistant Headteachers (like a Dean) and then they were removed. During all the “choice giving” I was really really struggling to maintain calm, nonyelling composure because I didn’t want them to think they could “break” me, which is what they were waiting for. I also didn’t want them to think that they could act like that and remain in the classroom. So, the rest of the lesson (oh by the way, this was the second lesson I’d already had with them, we barely made it through the first but some of that was taken up by the class switching and introductions so the issues didn’t arise as severely during that first hour!) I was left with only about 14 students and we completed a review of naming compounds. They were SILENT.
Once they left, my floodgates released and I sobbed for the majority of lunch. I just felt really inept. I have had wild kids in my room before, but never this many, who are 15, who are all on their last leg toward expulsion, who have really low skills, and who literally acted as if I were not in the room. I must add here though that the “One Rule” and “Living Above the Line” and all other Love and Logic tactics (and CHAMPS!) have been REALLY effective with everyone else, especially a rowdy group of Year 9 kids on a Friday afternoon. Literally, besides this one group of students, I have had, pretty much, no other issues.
As suggested by my wonderful friend Natalie, I started “Communication Logs” with them (thanks Lesli Cochran and Chris Tovani, I believe!) where I am writing back and forth with them every time I see them trying to build a relationship. One of the kids who has been the biggest pain is the one who is actually asking me questions back about what I like to do outside of school, etc. J I know this whole thing comes down to relationships and I am trying trying trying but that is the part that takes some time.
I had them twice yesterday (the initial incident was Thursday). There were only 10 kids there because it was the end of Ramadan and one of the boys from the previous day was in the in-school suspension room which is called ‘The Learning Zone!” It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. All of the administrators (Senior Leadership Team it is called here) have come in to make sure I am okay. As my dad said, they are probably just relieved I didn’t book a flight home. Never. I’m tougher than that! They are just kids. Many of them have crappy home lives and low skills. I get it.
But now I am off to London to see my Aussie friend, Skye, who is in Europe for the month! YAY! Haven’t seen her in more than two years!