Well, I made it through three whole days of 5th graders. My first two, the kids were incredibly chatty, but mostly very sweet. After a chatty first day, on day two I started timing how many seconds I had to wait for them to stop talking, and kept them that many seconds at recess and after school. That has been working well, but today posed some new problems...
After a good morning and early afternoon (during which I learned the following: DO NOT assume that your students know how to share a poem with a partner and give feedback. 5th graders hear this instruction and interpret it to mean: go sit on the rug and talk), my last hour and a half quickly unraveled to the point where I was about an inch from tears as I sat at my desk after the kids had left. Let me explain:
Because I had been hoping to have my kids work in centers while I run my guided reading groups, I decided I needed to practice working at centers and transitioning between them. This was something I did last year during student teaching, and it went beautifully. I clearly explained my instructions as every good teacher should, had detailed information cards at each center that answered almost every possible question the students might ask, and had all my materials assembled. I discussed expectations, and the purpose for the activity. I talked with the students about how, when we start guided reading next week, it is incredibly important that they be able to work without talking and disturbing the group. Sounds good, right?
Well, I should have known within the first 2 minutes what the afternoon would be like. Two of my groups were complete angels and I swear they did not ask a single question or laugh once. The rest...with a few exceptions...were, well, not angels. Not only did I have to stop the groups many times to discuss what was going wrong (noise level and bothering other group members, in true fifth grader style), but every time we transitioned, we had to go back and try it again several times because they were not transitioning quietly and slowly. It was a DISASTER.
After calming myself down after school, reminding myself that tomorrow is another day, and talking with one of our literacy coaches about how I can run guided reading next week NOT using centers, I am feeling marginally better. I know I have a challenging school and that some of my students have academic and emotional needs that are expressed in many ways. I know it is only the first week and I am still teaching them routines. I know I cannot expect that they know how I want them to behave. I know that I have another chance tomorrow and that things will get better. But still...days like this suck.
I guess some days are just rainy like today...Here's to hoping for a sunnier