October 02, 2012

The daily struggle

When I walk into each period that I teach, four children run up to me to ask to go to the bathroom, two students are physically fighting in the back of the classroom, and roughly two of the students are ready to begin. If I say, "Please sit down and take out your books," roughly 5% of the class will heed my instructions. If I repeat, "Please sit down and take out your books," nobody new will take out their books and the 5% who are ready take it as their cue to start talking to their neighbor.

I am not good at classroom management. I am especially not good at elementary school classroom management.

How do I make the entire classroom follow my instructions? It seems like it should be easy, even for 3rd graders, to sit down and take out their books. And yet, it is insanely difficult for me to motivate them to do it. The task literally drives me insane. To the point where I cannot control my urge to give up and walk out of the classroom. I have done it, actually, multiple times. Just walked out of the classroom. Only to get two feet away before I realize I cannot actually just leave.

Every week day, I have to wake up and go into a school filled with students who do not want to listen to me. Every week day, I contemplate vaguely how much it would really hurt me to not go into school that one day. And every day, I suck it up, put out my cigarette, and get on my way to work. Because I had great teachers who managed their classrooms and taught us to do what we are supposed to do. I managed to be trained into that sense of responsibility.

It terrifies me how incapable I am of doing that for others. Why am I so terrible at my job? And do I really have to fail at it again tomorrow?


  1. Obviously I don't know your whole background or situation but have you ever seriously thought about changing career paths? (I think I saw you tweet something along these lines recently...) I don't want it to sound like I'm implying you're bad at what you do or anything, but if it's not making you happy a change is worth looking into. :)

  2. Discipline isn't really my forte, and I feel your pain. Aw!
    I would probably start by asking those who don't sit down and take out their books, why they don't (and why they think I asked them to sit down). I'd make a point of calling their names individually and asking them to answer alone and not as a group. I would be really nice about the whole thing too. When it comes to little kids, patience is a necessity. Your body language shouldn't show that you're frustrated, but instead that you're stupefied by their foolishness.

    Can you call the ringleaders' parents and complain?

    Still, I agree with Manda. If it stays particularly horrible, maybe a job change is in order.

    1. I can't call parents because I don't speak Arabic, but I have the discipline supervisor do it. She had implied that many of the ringleaders' parents happen to be the parents who just don't give a fuck, haha.

  3. Does this happen to all teachers, or just you because you don't speak Arabic well?

    Hang in there! Your job is only temporary!

    1. It happens to others, but a lot less frequently and they are able to quell it more quickly because they speak Arabic. They are also all more experienced than I am, so that helps.