the seeming survival

January 15, 2008

Here’s how it went down: I had one day of class in which I met with my principal to discuss my plan for classroom organization. After that, I went to class, performed the classroom discussions on classroom procedures (as suggested by the principal) and watched them fall to pieces before my eyes save one. That one was good. We laid out some good principles for classroom behavior and expectations, and I think it went well.

Next comes the four-day school trip to Albuquerque.

One day of rest and preparation.

Back to the grind yesterday. I had decided that, since the principal’s plans didn’t work, I would use my own. For the two percussion classes I devised (at the suggestion of the Mrs. Head) to give them free-day opportunities. If they are quiet and productive for 15 minutes, they will earn 15 minutes toward a Free-day Friday. After an hour’s worth of earnings, the Free-day process will be activated, and we’ll proceed to the gym for games and fun.

It worked! One class almost got their first 15 minutes, and the other class did get 15 minutes. Instant results! Extrinsic Value!

In the full band class, I offered candy if they could complete a little training about getting in the classroom quickly and quietly. I timed them, they succeeded, twice. So, the deal was, not only do they get the candy, but they also get to have the four minutes after the bell to get ready (which is a far cry from the previous requirement: be in your seat ready to play by the bell). They seemed pleased with this, and we are experimenting with this time allowance and how it will affect classroom procedures all week long. If it works, it stays. If not, it goes, and we figure something else out. I think its gonna stay.

I have my first formal observation on Friday. I meet with the assistant principal today about what is going on in my class. I hope it goes well. I’m feeling much more confident this morning than I did yesterday at this time. I suppose that’s a sign of progress in and of itself.

Thanks to the all the teachers who have helped so far! We’re not out of the woods yet, but I think I see a clearing.



  1. The thing is, Bugs, and I’m certainly not saying this to be AT ALL discouraging, I’m totally on your side through ALL of this, you know that, but the thing is that you’ll never really be “out of the woods.” Really, each class is different, and can change from day to day, requiring that you be nimble with your tactics. What worked for the candy group today may not work tomorrow – they may decide that they want to goof off more than they want the candy – and you need to be ready with an answer to that. I think, though, that you’re on an EXCELLENT track, I think that your observation is going to go swimmingly, and I think that you’ve made major strides toward becoming an effective and professional teacher!

    YAY, You!!

  2. *reads the comment, considers his day*
    Well said, Chili. Well said.

  3. Ah, bribery.

  4. Sounds like things are looking up! Good luck with your eval! Oh yeah, and mrschili is 100% right! I wish I were that wise!

  5. hehe, hey, if bribery works, a little sweet tooth to hit the spot, whatever it takes.

    You improvise, adapt and overcome.


  6. Chili’s absolutely right. But for me, that’s what makes teaching fun and exciting. It becomes a game to see who is going to win. I love it when I win, not just because I am competitive, but because I have the students’ best interests at heart. I know when I win, that the kids are really the ones who win. That’s the kind of adrenaline rush I like!

    Keep up the great work!

  7. […] 10Sep08 While my first year was mostly a learning experience disguised as a disaster, this year has been more invigorating and enjoyable. I come home happy most […]

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