Well, it took about four weeks, but the spell has been broken; indeed, the gauntlet has been thrown down (if I may be permitted to mix my metaphors a bit – sorry, Orwell).
They finally decided to push me.
Okay, I’m being a tiny bit melodramatic. “They” doesn’t refer to all of my students – only one class of seniors. I sort of saw this in the cards, but experiencing it was another thing altogether.
My classroom management skills have never really been deficient, perhaps simply underworked; I’ve had really good students who knew what was expected of them or at least ones who respected the teacher of the classroom I was working in enough to respect me in turn. That’s been the case with most of the classes up to now, and I’ve been able to have fun with them (or so I think – a student told me today that I should be as fun as some other teacher, one [as I pointed out] who probably already has tenure and can take some liberties in the classroom). I even planned some fun lessons today, and I got to use some more technology for the seniors.
Well, the problem class struck today, I suspect partially because I did buckle down on them a little more. We watch Channel One at our school, and my teacher has always enforced a strict policy of watching it when it comes on. One student thought that he could get away with turning around and talking to his neighbor, and I enforced the policy myself once and followed with the ominous phrase “I don’t want to see you doing that again.” The response from the class was that I had thrown down the kid gloves, and I should have known from there that I was in for a headache.
The period was exhausting, emotionally and mentally – I could feel the palpable resistance. We were working through MLA citation, which they know only a small bit about and have been introduced to, and the disruptions eventually got so bad that I stopped my lesson completely and told them that I didn’t have to continue teaching – they could spend the rest of the period in silence and get the material on their own. That worked well enough for me to get through the lesson, and I’m glad it did; it would have only punished those students who didn’t get deserve it.
So now I have the expectation that I’m going to have to come down hard on this class, and I suspect that I’ll be forced to give a detention at some point this week in that class. It’s frustrating, since things were going so well and I was hoping not to have to come down hard, but it would be naive to say that it will never happen to me in my own classroom, and I need to deal with it now.
Does anyone have any stories about their first real confrontations that they’d like to share? I’d love to hear some to make me feel a little better; leave them in comments if you would.