I have a few more in-depth posts planned regarding what went well or not well about this semester (in both classes) and what I am going to change for next semester, and am hoping to spend the time writing those during this winter break. For right now, I have a few random thoughts to work through.
First, I’m finally feeling like I’m starting to see some success with those discipline issues that have been haunting me since the first week of school. I think we’ve finally reached a point of decent give-and-take, and the kids are transferring their liking for me as a teacher into a small amount of “obedience” – doing their work when I ask them to. I’m still having to remind quite a few of them that the whole point of them being in an Algebra Support class is to ask me questions, so saying “I don’t know how to do it” doesn’t hold water. (They’re not fans of this – they would rather I shrugged and left them alone when they say this.) I’m not entirely sure what’s changed, and I’m getting nowhere near 100% from them, but I feel less like I’m constantly fighting them, and more like they’re actually getting stuff done and learning things. Maybe I’ve just out-stubborned them. Maybe they’ve finally decided they like me. Maybe they’ve realized their lives are much easier when I’m not irritated with them. Maybe they’re starting to grow up a tiny bit. Maybe they’re just better at pretending to look busy (a valuable job skill, in my experience).
I bet it’s either some combination of all of these things, or it’s something I haven’t even considered.
My Financial Literacy classes did TERRIBLY on their final exams (on average, 15 percentage points worse than last year’s classes), so I’m going to be making some pretty significant changes to the way I run the class next semester. This is one of the things I plan to write a lot more about in a future post, because I want to unpack and solidify my thoughts before we go back to school.
I’m also going to write about my plans for Algebra Support in the spring, for the same reasons – I need to reflect and solidify my own ideas before school starts again.
In retrospect, this might be the biggest difference between my mental state during Fall Break in October vs. now – I am ready to think about what changes I need to make, instead of just needing time to not think about school at all. Clearly, some things have changed over the second quarter, even if it’s not perfect.