I just finished grades for all of my students. And I asked my older students to grade me in return. After all, this was my first year teaching in this capacity! I want to do the students justice.
I taught Ancient History for kids from 5th through 8th grade. Started the year with 60 students, ended the year with about 55 – many students drop out half way through the year, specially if they do winter sports. My 7th and 8th grade classes together had 30 students strong all year round.
This is what they said:
I had fun teaching about the Romans because you can do so much! We did a day in the life of a Roman and really dove in to the different Roman classes… and played Mafia.
And well, for Vikings I dressed up, and we did lap books and Kahoots, so they liked that.
Actually, Kahoots was the biggest hit in my class with a 91% approval rate. By the students, at least. I’m not entirely sure the other teachers were happy with the amount of cheering and hollering that happened in this friendly competition. Another thing that had high approval was what I called “laugh therapy”, where I showed a funny video the first 10 minutes of class (helping with transition). My Role-Playing-Game (which I made up all by myself and brought dice and everything, playing out an Ancient Greece scenario), Florence CSI (I borrowed this from Mr. Roughton because I came across it just before teaching about the Renaissance, and it was brilliant!), and Extra History videos were a hit too.
But not everything was roses. I had a lot of disciplinary struggles too. I have a hard time balancing the classroom, and I mentioned some of my thoughts on this “Unsent letter” to the class.
I don’t handle conflict very well and I honestly don’t know what to do with students who don’t want to participate in my class. I work for homeschoolers so the classes are ultimately, completely voluntary. That’s the reason why I don’t work for the public school system. My erroneous expectation was that every student was going to be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to learn. I never imagined I’d have students absolutely refusing to cooperate, participate, or heck even stay in the classroom during class hours. And then what do I do? Chase them down? Beg? Threaten? Bribe? How is it my responsibility to make kids care about their grade?
Well, I’m trying not to take that to heart. I’m looking at resources to read over the summer in hopes that it improves next school year. My old biology teacher when I was in High School shared the same frustration with students in a High School HONORS class – and he’s got decades of experience! So if it happens to the best of teachers, I’m sure it happens to teachers like me.
Overall, it was all good notes, and lots of heart-warming comments I’m holding close to the chest. Next school year is bringing a world of changes, but it will all be for the best!