Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
It has been a while since I last posted. Recently, I have been working to manage my classroom better. Although I am just a bible study teacher, I feel that I am nonetheless going through what regular school teachers are going through. After all, these students are coming from regular school. My eight-year-old student keeps asking if we are going to the flag salute, so that should say a lot.
I was prompted to really consider classroom management after growing tired of the pulsating waves of anxiety flooding me throughout the week. My classroom is lacking in effective management. Originally, I had a point system going that I was not religiously enforcing. It was not until I watched a video of a school teacher teaching a children’s church that I saw that I needed to visually enforce that system. Last week, I started seriously taking points away and showing zero mercy, and I got a very quiet class for two sessions. However, I also included small pockets of time where they could talk, like when I’m passing out papers, during pair-share moments, and question and answer sessions.
The importance of classroom management was sealed in me even more after visiting my cousins’ neighborhood bible study. I brought my nephew to my cousins’ 5-hour Christmas party filled with screaming neighborhood kids, flying hula hoops, frustrated children, and ear-stabbing balloon popping. The lack of discipline and the fact that my cousins were not fully enforcing punishments contributed to this. Literally, their consequences are as follows: 1. Warning for the first offense and 2. Send home for a second offense. I cannot tell you how many children should have been sent home. I have been bringing up to them that they should consider changing their rewards and punishment policies.
For myself, I have changed up some of my format. I have gotten rid of round robin reading for choral reading, and recently, I replaced choral reading for cloze reading, where the teacher reads the passage, and the students fill in the word(s) that the teacher leaves out. I like this format, as it keeps them more engaged with the bible.
I am still continuing to use the ASSURE plan for technology integration and still working to find the point of balance for my TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). While the technological aspect is going well, I feel that I am failing in the pedagogical and content knowledge areas. I know my content, but I can’t remember it well enough to present it, so I’ve started writing it out on a little tablet. This is something that my father does when he teaches Sunday school and preaches, so I shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
Sunday, however, seemed to revert back to the same old, same old: I got a visiting student, and a class full of disruptive laughter and whining, despite that system. (Ah, the limitations of transactional and operant conditioning).
So, what changed? What went wrong?
There is one thing that is unchangeable: my students are all related to each other, so it is a bit obvious how brothers, sisters, and cousins are going to act. One student gets agitated when her brothers violate her personal space–the light tap of a shoe against hers, just their mere existence in this world it seems…There is also the lively eight-year-old who instigates his cousins to break out into laughter.
There is also the fact that we changed our classroom layout. We moved from a large blue picnic bench to a cramped classroom with one table, and everyone is facing toward each other. The type of layout that I had to nix simply because of disruptions like above.
So, after this past Sunday, I worried and stressed about what I should do and where I went wrong in my life. I heard God’s voice simply say, “Trust Me.” In the end, this is all I can do. I have been praying for each of my students, and I’m looking forward to meeting them this Wednesday and enforcing my classroom management plan and following it through.