Days 6 & 7

Day 6 (yesterday): Disastrous. I could barely hold my tears back during PD. The lead teachers had meetings until the evening, so for the first time, I felt truly on my own. Calling upon my network of teaching friends and relatives for advice is only somewhat comforting. I didn’t want to make it a “me” vs. “them,” but it certainly felt like it yesterday.

Day 7 (today): Went in like a hard-ass and informed the students they had to complete an in class essay by the end of the period. I set up the worksheet to give them easy points but they had to do all of the pre-writing AND complete the essay to earn full credit. Surprisingly, most classes began to settle down and take it seriously. “But Miss, what if we can’t finish?!” “Keep working until the end of class.” Of course, I let them complete it for homework. If I don’t get it from them tomorrow, then they’re losing points.

“Hey, Miss!!!”
“Please say my full name.”
“Excuse me, Miss Hohmann, I need your help.”
“Yes, what can I help you with?”

Only one girl in 6th period completely refused to do the assignment.

Whittling away at learned helplessness/attitude/bad habits; providing structure; being thrown feet first into a pool and trying to keep my head above water. This is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my life. But I have a room. I’m starting to feel like a real teacher again. I have faculty support. I’m learning as the students are, and sometimes that can be a wonderful thing.

I am so grateful to my boyfriend, friends, and relatives for their support the past few days.

beggar-to-beggar-cried asked: Hey I've seen you on the sub tag. I have a method that has helped me at some troublesome schools. If the kids get 2 warnings I make them write their name and how they can act better on an index card. If they shape up I give them the card back to destroy/toss and no trouble comes of it. If they continue, they are sent to the office and the teacher gets their card for the day to know it was 3 strikes already against the student. I find this straightens up the "just chatty" kids.

Thanks! I might have to use this, Though it might seem a little elementary for high schoolers, I could try to “scare” them. :)

Reading and grading the students’ assignment:

"I want to improve my comprehension skills."

“A weakness is reading. I have trouble understanding what’s going on in the story.”

“I don’t like when the teacher is rude because I get disrespectful. My weakest area is to read a book I’m not interested in.”

“I’ve only had one English teacher that made me like English and made it seem so easy.”

“My weakest area is reading because I don’t really sound out the words I can’t pronounce. I can give up easily and skip it.”

In order to be a successful student, I need the class to be quiet.”

“I don’t feel comfortable speaking in class especially when they keep changing the damn teachers.”

“I would like to learn more poetry. I actually think it’s cool that you like poetry.”

Friday morning.

Friday morning.

Day 4 (last Friday)

So exhausted I could barely function. Nothing particularly special or disastrous happened, which I guess is a good thing. I thought the afternoon classes might be combative; instead, they were sleepy and unresponsive. 6th was better than yesterday. One problem student behaved much better today; less talking out of turn or challenging my authority. He did say, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Miss, why you gotta rat me out to my [homeroom] teacher??” I was losing my voice but keeping my tone even when trying to redirect the students’ focus. (Better than everyone ignoring me completely.) Small victories.

After school, the principal said with a smile, “So you’re coming back next week?” I think the faculty is impressed I didn’t completely fall apart/run out of the school screaming.

Students are starting to greet me as they walk in. A few actually called me “Miss Hohmann,” and almost spelled my correctly! A good attitude is contagious. I’m trying my damnedest to remember every hour is a fresh start, as is each day.

I hope to feel more rejuvenated and excited after shopping for classroom posters and supplies this weekend.

Day 3 (last Thursday)

Running a marathon I didn’t train for/couldn’t pace myself. I was at school for 12 hours. My attempts at getting the students to respond, write, and think are slowly progressing.

Complaints from period 2:

“Why do you always shout?”

“This *used to* be my favorite class…” [as they did NOTHING with the previous teacher]

“Aw Miss, you’re hard!”

Same moody female student from yesterday: she walked out during Homeroom. During 5th period, I asked her why she had done so. she opened up to me and said she had a bad morning. “I know myself, Miss. If I [had] stayed I would’ve blown up at you. I didn’t want to [do that]. I respect my [elders].”

I would’ve labeled today “good” or “great”, if it weren’t for 6th period. Defiant doesn’t begin to cover it. I pushed a seating chart because all my other classes had eventually accepted the concept. Maybe I lingered too long on it when it was a lost cause. “Miss, are you ok? You’re taking a lot of deep breaths.” I had to call for help. The lead teacher came in but of course after she left it was chaos again. I had a quick cry after the bell, out if sheer frustration.

So, suggestions for different classroom management techniques and/or how to implement consequences for infractions?

A moment of serendipity as I tried to figure out what to do for dinner before Open House: a teacher whispers a group is going for food, so we pile into her car and get to The Black Cat for drinks and a (rushed) three course meal (thanks, DineLA!). We are slightly tardy for Open House but the camaraderie, adult jokes, and good-natured teasing (even though I just met them) gave me the boost I needed.

Only three parents and students showed up. I was honest about the situation but it’s nice to meet a few parents who care, despite the language barrier.

Home after 8 with barely time for a phone call with my boyfriend.

Time to crash into bed. I have to leave it all until morning.

Day 2

Running on little sleep, with a million things on my to-do list. With the help of yet another colleague, a few important tasks were accomplished before school started.

An act of defiance, an act of contrition: Words from a female student in homeroom: “You expect us to do work when we don’t even know you!!” (Even though I introduced myself to her class yesterday.) By 5th period English class, she seemed to have less attitude. I commented on her improved behavior. “Yeah, I was moody this morning.” Fair enough.

Seating charts do wonders to improve classroom conditions. I even got some of the more “difficult” students to attempt work today. I was surprised that one of my “problem” classes had raised hands!

Cleaning/improving/beautifying the classroom is a long process already. At least I get to have fun getting cute supplies this weekend!

Final comments:

(from a special ed teacher, whose room is next to mine): “Your class is the quietest it’s been [since the beginning of the school year].”

Reported to other teachers, by my students, re: yesterday or today:

Student: “She seems strict but I guess that’s alright.”

Student: “I liked Mr. C, but he didn’t make us do nothing.”

Day 1: I survived.

It seems like my years as a substitute have paid off, as in, I was patient and tried to reassess when things didn’t work. Barely got my key before school started, didn’t have any attendance sheets (and they claim I can’t log in to ISIS until Day 21).

The transition of power was awkward, especially with the principal fielding questions from the students. A 65 minute period is much longer than I anticipated.  The students weren’t terrible. They need structure. There were a few behavior issues that I hope can be tackled by implementing a seating chart, classroom expectations, and my consistent presence. Only a few “problem” students; I don’t know how to deal with their outbursts yet.

The students didn’t take the “classroom norms” activity too seriously but I wanted to demonstrate what I expected of them. It is abundantly clear the long-term sub before had ZERO classroom management, so tomorrow I will start with seating charts and launching into the writing process.

1:05 dismissal with a two hour PD. I stayed until after 5 and met with BOTH lead teachers. The female lead teacher/AVID coordinator went out of her way to help me plan the rest of the week! I felt like a student-teacher again, in a good way! And her husband (the other lead teacher) helped me rearrange the classroom so students will know it’s a new beginning and that we need a conducive learning environment. I am so grateful for the support I have received so far! I know at least half of the teachers by name (first name basis, because they are now peers/colleagues!).

I still didn’t get everything done I needed to. I’m hoping I can get up earlier and also use my first period conference as planning time, provided I can get the PowerPoint to work and still find time for another meeting with the lead teacher.

As I write this, I finally feel the exhaustion overtaking me.

Oh, and when it rains, it pours: I checked my LAUSD email and I had TWO requests for middle school positions! I had to decline the interviews. I mentioned this to the lead teacher and he said, “I’m glad we [already] got you.”

The start of a new adventure.

Night before anticipation/anxiety. I can only prepare for what I know, which isn’t much. Remembering to bring patience and confidence tomorrow. Remembering that it’s taken me years to get here.

^ That’s what I’ve been doing all weekend.(Mostly vacillating between excitement and anxiety attacks.)