This week I was challenged to teach Social Studies, focusing on the European explorer John Cabot. At first I was unsure about taking on this subject as it was one of my least favorites growing up; I retained very little knowledge about this topic to even feel confident with it. That being said, I spent a lot of time planning my lesson because I was always bored in that class so I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for my students while I was their teacher.
I ended up planning a fun lesson of reading a few notes to learn about Cabot’s journey then having questions on ships for the students to fill out. Each ship contained a letter of his name, a few students were given maps of England and Newfoundland then we strung them together at the end to piece together his exploration. They loved it! So for me, the feeling of succeeding the ‘non-boring’ Social Studies was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, but there always seems to be an area of improvement tagged on the side too; back to classroom management.
I held the students’ attention all throughout my explanation and reading of the explorer, but as soon as I tried to incorporate cooperative learning and allowing group work, the room was very busy and I wasn’t at ease anymore. They weren’t misbehaving, most groups were actually doing their work, but it was hard for me to think clearly, speak to students who had asked for help and to keep track of how everyone was doing. On a lighter note, they do show respect for me a lot more than they had when I first started. They listen when I ask them to give me five, I guess I just haven’t realized the difference between ‘noise’ and ‘sound’ when it comes to students working in groups. It’s an obvious expectation that group work will rarely be silent, but since I’m still new at this I feel obligated to have them quiet down all the time for the fear of me losing control of my own classroom.
The next period after my lesson, my partner and I went into the Art History class with our Grade 4/5’s while our co-op was on her prep. Their Art teacher was sick so a substitute teacher was in for them, whom they’ve never seen before. This was very comparable to a zoo. Now the tables had turned for me, they didn’t show any respect for the substitute, but if I raised my voice for them to settle down they would because they knew me. However, being last period their attention spans were limited and it was a challenge for all three of us adults to keep 28 students under control. I am just finding this whole concept troubling still – managing my classroom. I do not feel hopeless and incompetent to maintain it, but I find it’s so “wishy washy” if you would, to know when or how the students will behave. Any suggestions?
I want to be able to have the mutual relationship with my students where if I show them respect I would expect them to show me it back. There will always be those students who misbehave and cause trouble, but I want them to want to listen to me and not fight back my rules. Should I be more strict to get their attention or more lenient about so much noise so they won’t act out to anger me. I’m just having a few puzzling/frustrating moments with knowing how to properly deal with such behaviors. I guess practice and experience will help me out in this area as well, but suggestions will be greatly appreciated!