As a new teacher, but an experienced woman, (in fact a middle-aged woman going through somewhat of a mid-life crisis while transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom for 24 years to being a professional) I was intrigued, energized, curious, and determined. I was (am) an Idealist Champion (Keirsey Temperament). I thought students would do everything I required and hang on every word I spoke. I thought they would love to be at school. I loved high school. Even though I wasn’t a star student, I was doing things I liked and enjoying socializing.
I got my eyes opened wide the very first day. I really made a quick connection with the students: they liked me and I liked them. By the end of each period the first day I had their attention. I was exhausted, but they were being quiet. The second day I came in expecting to have the same control I had established the day before. It was like walking into a new world. I had to start all over again getting their attention. I was having trouble comprehending the situation. My own kids respected and obeyed me. I didn’t have to start all over everyday teaching them my expectations. OK, I had been their mom all of their lives.
I remembered that at the 2 week training I had during the summer we had discussed a certain discipline style for classroom management, so I got out my notes and the third day we started off with a policy: if a student disrupted class, I would write his or her name on the board, and if he/she did it again, I would put a check by their name. Three checks and they would have to go to the office. I soon figured out that I could not concentrate on taking names and teach the class at the same time, and I could not teach the class anything if they were all in the office by 15 minutes into the class. This went on for the first two weeks. Me, with my ADHD self trying to teach and stopping to put checks by students’ names for not raising their hand, calling out my name, burping or expelling gas in other ways or laughing. The third Monday I arrived with a completely new mind set. The students were loving this discipline policy: they were having a ball; I was frustrated every day. On the 9th day of school I stood at the front of the class and announced, “We have a new discipline policy. I’m in charge. If anything comes up, I’ll handle it. You know how to act, now do it.” They tried to rebel: they liked chaos. Through the years I have learned much about human interaction, group communication, classroom management, and more. In my class today I have three rules: Be Good to Yourself, Be Good to Others, and Be Good to this Place. This would not work for everyone, but it works well for me.
The first two years I taught were very challenging. I guess that’s not too surprising for any new teacher. I had heard the statistics: fifty percent of all people who enter the teaching profession get out within five years, and no teacher knows what they are doing until the third year. I was overwhelmed and over committed but determined to impact the lives of young people. No matter what endeavors I had going on, when I entered the classroom, it was all about the kids and from their comments, (Many of them are my Facebook Friends Today) I think they knew that.