As Florence put it, my regrets since the start of school are starting to haunt me. I have officially been teaching high school English for 13 (school) days and already I am constantly wishing I had done things more to the book. The book which I am referring is “First Days of School” by Frank Wong. Mr. Wong is a visionary when it comes to classroom organization and preparation. I drank up as much of that book as I could before school started. I took his advice about how to take attendance, how to greet my students, what to wear, and even where to place my desk. But the things that I did not follow are now the things that are the biggest problems in my classroom.
1. Seating Chart: It’s the third week of school and my students have now gotten comfortable. Before I created a seating chart, I wanted to get to know my students; see how they interacted with each other. Just when I thought I knew my kids, change swooped in and ruined the party. All of my English III classes rosters were changed. The students who failed the state English test were removed and the students from other classes who did passed were moved in. All of my culture building and introductions went out the door. I had to start from scratch and begin teaching content at the same time. Flexibility. This is the key to being a teacher at JPS. Being a teacher anywhere probably. So now that the third week is ending, I am going to implement a seating chart starting Tuesday. (Labor Day is no school!)
2. No Decorations: Now this little regret was unavoidable. The teacher who was in my room previously did not finish moving all of her things out until the day before school began. Now my students are constantly telling me, “Ms. Sadravi, your room is so plain. We have nothing to look at!” Well too bad! My smiling face should be enough! But it’s not. So I must try and decorate before October.
3. Better Classroom Management: I have not used my teacher voice, stare, fierceness nearly enough. I did to be more stern with them. I need to show them that I care but I still mean business. My students respect me but I want them to work hard for me. I want them to work hard not because they think they will get in trouble, but for their own satisfaction.
This is when the lightbulb went off – BING! (for all my City Year people). Most of my student DO NOT CARE. They do not care about reading Native American Myths or Malcolm X. They DO NOT CARE if I give them the power of channeling their emotion through poetry. It is my job to get them to care. And honestly, think back to your time in high school. How many of your classmates did not care? I know it was a struggle to get through my years of teachers lecturing about blah blah blah. As Donnell, my student in Greenville, told me this summer, “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening. When you speak it sounds like Waaaaahh waaaaaah waaaaah waaaaaah.” And I’m pretty sure this kid had never seen a episode of Charlie Brown.
I will continue to strive to make this year a successful one. Not only for me but for my students. Here’s to no more regrets!