Yes, I'm the mean teacher. I am very strict and have no tolerance for misbehavior in the classroom. When my kids hear my high heels clicking down the hallway, they all start shushing each other and warning each other I'm coming. Kids do not walk up to me in class and ask me questions, they also do not walk over to my desk during home room and give me papers. I must have been a Roman Centurion in a former life, order and rules are my happy place.
But you know what? Even though my rooms sounds like a military barracks, it works. My first class was very tough. 5 of my boys that year got the cops called on them for stalking one of my girls home. They cursed out the cop, who then offered me his gun when he returned them to my class. My second and present school was even worse. We were a Bloods school when I first got there. Bloods, as in the street gang. I had to be tough to get respect. The good kids always appreciated my ability to keep the bad kids in line so they could learn. The vast majority of the bad kids, respected the fact that I was the alpha dog in the class. Like I said, it works.
The population in my school has drastically changed in the 10 years I've been there. Nowadays, I'm more apt to get a kid who cries because he or she didn't do his or her work and is failing. They think the tears will help. They won't. 6th graders need consequences. Yes, everyone screws up every now and then, but continued transgressions need a consequence. That's how we learn, we make a mistake, we get an outcome we don't like, and we learn how to not get that outcome again. That's growth.
I'm no longer as scary as I was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. I'm still strict and expect all of my students to work, to their own level of course. And guess what? My kids are respectful, hard working, and achievers. We work in groups regularly and every one understands that everyone is equally important. They vote (or rock, paper, scissors) their disputes away and get right back to work. I have very few kids who don't do homework. I have very few kids who get into fights outside of the classroom. We have real conversations, not just about school work. They appreciate the autonomy they are given and I appreciate the effort they put into their work.
What do they get in return for being so responsible at such a young age? I take my kids on constant field trips into the city (Manhattan). We do lots of art projects. We walk shelter dogs and create websites to try to get them adopted. We learn to code and use our 3D printer. I trust my kids to do the right thing. I don't hover over them. I give them the space to explore and learn from each other and they come to me only when they truly can not figure something out. While the other classes on my grade are still very elementary, my students are becoming middle schoolers. The 7th grade teachers always know which kids were mine the year before.
So as we return to school, I'll get the usual, "How do you get your kids to listen so well?" questions from the new teachers. I usually joke and say it's because the kids know I'm not a nice person. It's really because they know I respect them. And they,in turn, respect me as well. So after my joke, I tell them to be who they are. Kids have built in BS detectors. If you try to act like someone you're not, they will not listen to you. I'm a Roman Cemturion at heart, so order and rules work for me. Go with who you are, kids appreciate honesty and will respond in full force. a Rafflecopter giveaway
|Mrs. Thomas' Teachable Moments|