Chaos and Harmony

This past week was a lesson in patience and perseverance. One of our teachers was transferred to another school, so we had to combine our 6th grade classes into one section. My most wonderfully peaceful, rigorous, and hardworking classes have immediately transformed into a creative form of energy sapping torture. I now have 49 students in this section, with two tables, 6 desks, and 24 students on mats on the floor. I was excited to have 2 tables and 6 desks for my fourth graders – I finally found a workable seating arrangement for them, and they have settled into the routine of my class wonderfully. Well, heaven forbid that I have peace, serenity, and  academic success in all my classes. New challenges must be presented, for how can it be Extreme Teaching otherwise?!

My strategy? Turn up the energy in my teaching, increase the amount of time in work stations, but I fear that is not enough. It’s very difficult to teach 49 students about 7 different work stations, and then proceed to have 8 students at each station (only 2 at listening for those who figured out that 8X7 is 56).  I am thinking of training a group of students to be my “Special Forces Unit.” They would be experts in all the work stations, so we would always have someone at each station who knows exactly what to do. I wish I had had time to train the smaller classes in the work stations before they got smashed together into one enormous class.

I’m especially frustrated, because I know how important “proving” my worth is for my project, and the 6th graders are participating in a National Assessment this year, so I was hoping to use data from that to support my efforts. Not that I’m a fan of standardized tests, but I know what speaks to decision makers – national data.

The harmony in the last week comes in the form of small group reading intervention classes. It is so exciting to be working with 2nd and 3rd graders! I officially teach 30 minute intervention lessons to 6 groups throughout the day. I love teaching reading now! Who knew? I’m a math teacher at heart, but there is something so inherently interesting for students when it comes to books. I love watching their natural interest come alive, and I’m sure it will be even more inspiring when they become more successful readers!

The challenge for small groups is going to be materials – I photocopied 6 copies each of some books I brought from my mom’s inventory (THANKS MOM!), but these will not last the whole year – there are only 18 books in that set. I would also like to have some low-level chapter books, for more continuity between lessons, especially for the 4th graders. Maybe I will see if there are some people in Manila who can donate books…

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