I’ve finally done the rules talk with everyone. I need to adjust some of my lessons since not everyone is doing the same thing each week. I found and downloaded the ebook “The Reluctant Disciplinarian”. I really want to make this the year when I’m in control of my classroom. Teaching really shouldn’t feel like going into battle. Obviously, I’ll need to adjust some of the advice given that I am not fluent in Chinese nor are my students fluent in English but I did come away with some key thoughts.
In particular, I’ve thought about the need to be in charge. Teachers need to have high expectations and this book reminded me that students in turn have expectations of me. Students will test you and want you to pass the test. In light of this, some behaviors I’ve observed make complete sense. That’s why a student who quietly motions for me to count down or to take class points one week is pumping air into a water bottle with a bicycle pump on another day. I used to think “They have their days because they’re kids” but that’s only part of it. They need me to be that authoritative presence. They know that discipline is part of the job. They expect it. I’ve also tried to do a little more of what “real teachers” do to set those expectations better than I did last year. I gave my students homework. A small assignment, but I wanted to set that precedent now. Everyone who had their nametags and brought a notebook received a stamp, which in turn encouraged everyone to bring notebooks. I’m not sure everyone actually bought one, but things definitely changed when I and checked in to see who was taking notes. Things were more focused, quieter, more like what I expected from students. I suppose there is truth to the idea that while I am free to be the fun teacher, I still need to make it clear that I have the same expectations other teachers do. Students don’t openly say it’s for the better, but I sense a change. Maybe I’ve finally earned some respect. One of my classes got a C, then a D. They weren’t happy, but no one argued with me. I asked their other English teacher if I could watch her at work she mentioned that they’re tough for her too. She frequently walks away mad because of the noise. I’ll take notes on how she handles discipline. It would be good to identify a head teacher and observe his/her class too. Even if they are not an English teacher, head teachers are responsible for class discipline.
“The Reluctant Disciplinarian” gave me no miracles but it reminded me of what I can do and need to do. I do not have the fresh start now that Rubinstein did, but I do get the pleasure of seeing how both my students and myself change over two years.
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