It’s mid-October, which means I made it to my second month of teaching. Frankly, I’m surprised I made it this far because the past few weeks have been very trying due to major disruptive behaviors in the classroom. It has been exhausting trying to get everyone on task, while counseling individual students and helping them find resolutions to in-class conflicts. Administration has been supportive, but I am still reeling from and dealing with the shock of working as a new teacher in an inner-city middle school, on top of keeping up with paperwork and balancing my time between work life and my personal life.
Two of my major concerns are that 1) I am spending almost all my nights and weekends on lesson planning, but feel like I am literally only one step ahead; and 2) I really need help with my classroom behavior management. Compared to the first month, I am no longer having sleepless nights over lesson plans or student behavior but I still do feel anxious a lot. I have lost 15 pounds since the first day of school, and am slowly recovering back the weight lost from stress and anxiety.
Some of the things that I have been really working hard on are keeping a week ahead of my lesson plans, getting my teaching materials for two grades prepped and organized, and improving my classroom behavior management. I have implemented a weekly lab assistants raffle to reward good student behavior; consistently make phone calls home to parents to let them know how their child is doing in class; write letters to encourage and motivate individual students; randomly present students with certificates of excellence for their good behavior and exceptional schoolwork; and generally try to connect and build relationships with students.
Students, I noticed, also are disruptive because they think the content is hard. I’ve responded by introducing foldables and incorporating more concept maps and more graphic organizers into my lesson plans. One other thing I’ve tried was creating study guide packets with lesson checks for homework, which I hope will help them focus more on key ideas and concepts.
During last week’s meeting, I have also been told by administration that I need to improve my transitions. Many students fall apart when it comes time to distribute materials, or move to another activity. This was something I also noted, and I am going to try to use labeled seats (to help with grouping), labeled caddies/buckets for materials with inventory cards, and say directions first before moving to the next activity.
Everyone at work tells me that fixing disruptive behavior takes time. It is a matter of consistency and perseverance, both for teacher and students. The past few weeks have been very disheartening, but I need to remind myself that I need to keep calm and carry on. I hope that I will stop feeling so anxious, and actually start enjoying what I do, as long as I continue to work on improving my teaching techniques and strategies in small ways one day at a time.