Feb 08 2011

Fueling my fire update – The turnaround class!

It has been awhile since I updated this blog. With a particularly bad day today, I felt it was necessary to remind myself of some of the progresses I have made these past few months so I can come back tomorrow with all my might…

- The comeback CLASS

Nothing good seemed to be said about my third period of the day. They were very disruptive, and seemingly unambitious group of students who cried and whined about not having recess for days than learning the lesson for the day. Things needed to be done in this classroom ASAP. Although I had always told them that they could behave, and that they really weren’t bad students, my behaviorist wanted them to think otherwise.

“EXCUSE ME!” She shouted, “What do you think you’re doing? I don’t know about you all, but I am truly sick and tired of this classroom! Nobody acts this way in this classroom except you! You make me ashamed of working here. You are the worst class of 6th grade!” She stormed and slammed the door behind her.

My heart was clearly on the floor.The culture that I had worked so hard to build was shattered to pieces. They were angry and rebellious. With the kind permission from the Spanish teacher, we decided as a class to sit down and discuss their angry thoughts. It was pretty vivid that they were upset about being called the worst. Without much denial, I then asked why they think she thought that way. Besides not so kind words about her, they stated that nobody really believed in them besides me. That everyone thought they were the worst 6th grade class at Edison.

The lightbulb went in my head!

This was a huge motivator for them – they wanted to not be the worst, and were ready to do anything to be the best. We shifted conversations to talk about steps we would take to change behaviorally and ┬ánumerically. They derived a list of 5 things they would do to address the issues they pointed out in their classroom (yes, 6th graders are able to self-reflect on their own problems – I was impressed!). We were starting to get to something good here…

I then posted classroom averages every Monday alongside the steps they came up with that day. Their goal was very clear – to be the best. With a difficult Unit Test on the horizon, their efforts were put to great use. No time was wasted in Mr. Loureiro’s classroom. They were even choosing to skip recess to get ahead of the other classes! Although the other classes averaged around a 77% mastery for a not-so-easy pre-Algebra test, my third period scored a whopping 81% and achieved their goal to be the best class.

I told the principal who then addressed the class on their efforts. Their overall average ended up going up by almost 10%, mastery was at an all-time high, and my classroom cluture was stronger than ever.

I could not have been more thankful for that waking reminder, as harsh as it was.

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