This week, according to my cooperating teacher, I found my teacher voice. And while it was only because I was at the point of total frustration, it felt great!
I was teaching the social studies lesson earlier this week and struggling to keep the kids’ attention. They were not silently listening at the “level zero” as they have been told over and over. They weren’t loud, but they also weren’t silent. I did all the cliché things to get their attention, which worked but never lasted. Then I resorted to one of the biggest mistakes a teacher can make – I started talking over them. And, of course, they just got a little louder. I muddled through the lesson to get to the activity portion in hopes of eventually regaining their attention. Basically the assignment was to write a question, like a news reporter might, and then I was going to redistribute the worksheets so classmates could answer each other’s questions. I explained this, in painful detail, as I was handing out the worksheets and trying to talk over them. Finally, after about the fifth student said I gave back the wrong worksheet, I lost it. I stopped, grabbed their attention for the bazillionth time, and laid down the law. And I had their absolute undivided attention. I repeated the directions. I called on students to repeat the directions back to me. I was stern and harsh and not the passive student teacher they had just been walking all over. They sat silently and somewhat wide eyed as they listened. And that’s when I felt it. A shift in the force. I demanded respect and they gave it.
I was a little concerned my rise in power would be short lived, but so far it hasn’t been. I do feel they view me differently. Not quite as their teacher, but no longer as the lesser assistant to their regular teacher. I think I solidified my role as disciplinarian a few days later. They left for lunch in a fashion that resembled a small mob and not the orderly straight line they are supposed to use. After lunch, we did a reenactment to enforce the correct way to dismiss for lunch. This reenactment cut into their social studies time, which in turn created more homework for them – whoops on their part. Since these this two instances, they have been pretty close to angelic for me.
In other big news this week, we are working to incorporate Whole Brain Teaching. If you’ve never heard of it, it is cheesy, embarrassing, and awkward. And the kids love it! Basically, as an attention getter, I say a phrase and they say a counter-phrase. One of my favorites is when I say “Hocus Pocus” and they respond “Time to focus!”. Anywho, there’s been a few hiccups in the process, but I absolutely love it! Initially I thought it would not fly with these guys since they are big bad fourth graders, but they are so enthusiastic. And their enthusiasm drives me to do it more often. Depending on the grade level, I absolutely want to use this in my future classroom! Here’s a few examples of what we use in class: