Today I was super pumped about my lesson plan. My unit is focused around the loss of identity in residential schools, and my lesson today was the loss of language. I came up with this fun activity where I would speak and write in random sounds and symbols, if the students spoke English I would be mad and raise my voice and send the students to the hallway. The activity went super well, we they started looking at the survivors speak stories from the TRC. One of the stories mentioned that they were not allowed to attend a sun-dance. So I asked the obvious question, what is a sun-dance; trying to be inclusive to all students I asked on of the girls sitting at the front who is aboriginal. I know she attended them before, so was hoping she would share. At this point, I was partially trying to get her included in the class, and knew that she would have the correct answer; I did not even for a second consider that I completely put her on the spot, to tell the entire class about something that was literally the center of a survivors punishment. Not once did it even cross my mind that I should have went about the question totally different, such as “has anyone attended a sun-dance, would you mind explaining what they are”. Nope I just assumed she would want to talk about it. Well she did not, so I asked the whole class who knew anything about a sun-dance. Apparently they knew things that I did not, such as in come cultures sun-dances are used for self-torture…What?!! Yep, this is actually true. How do I know, because once I got the class settled back down, I was like, let’s look it up. THE FIRST THING THAT SHOWED UP WAS A PERSON (NOT ABORIGINAL), PUTTING A WOODEN STAKE THROUGH HIS SHOULDER BLADE, AS OTHERS MADE A CIRCLE AROUND HIM!!! In no universe, ever did I even consider that something like that would ever pop up. Like ever. I was completely shocked, so I just closed the page, and continued talking about Indigenous sun-dances, like it never happened…real great move on my part. This was my first big uh-oh moment of the day, and I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I was writing my reflection on it. Always check the source before using it in front of a class!
Middle years students are like infants. New mothers always stress the importance of never taking their eyes off a newborn because something can happen, like they start choking on spit, or their neck is not supported. Middle year students are not the same, but instead of choking on their own spit, it is them throwing things across the room, or trying to talk for the two seconds your back is turned away. The worst part is, once you let them get away with something small, they think that they will be able to get away with everything. And you cannot just tell them to stop messing around, because they take that as a challenge.
I have gotten two big keys to being a successful teacher, the first is presence. If you have a strong presence than the class will instantly respond to it, I am definitely going to need to work on this a lot in my first few years of teaching. The second is circulation, All. THE. TIME. If you are not helping someone, than you are walking around checking the students work and ensuring they are on task. Middle year students get off task easy, because they seem to forget the Glee has absolutely nothing to do with social studies, real shocker there.
I remember my old grade eight teacher leaving the room all the time, often for long periods of time. Being a teacher now, this completely shocks me, even with three teachers in the room it seems as if the class is all over the place. No teachers in the class, would result in no work done.
I am not saying that I have a bad class, actually the students that I teach are really good students, they are nice to each other, are fairly respectful, but they are still middle year students, which means they are sarcastic, talk back, and love to argue with everyone. I have said the phrase “you have not done anything in the past ten minutes”, at least thirty times in the past two days, and every time I say it the student looks equally shocked as if they thought I wouldn’t notice that they have only written the title down.
Middle year students have such a great energy, and they make you feel as if it is O.K. to mess up, but yet have no problem joking around with you. Middle year students are still fun, but they have a personality.