French!!!! Au secours!!!!

French Two! It’s just, like, too happy up in there. The kids were together all last year in seventh grade in one big (38 kids) happy class and now they’re a year older, a year bigger, and a year better friends. We had such a great year last year, being the first time I taught all year with the Invisibles, but it was also a super-rough year. I had a deep spell of chemical depression, I helped revise A Natural Approach to Stories, which took a LOT of time, I had a rough time with the election results and their aftermath, I quit a heavy alcohol habit, my gramma died…I missed a good deal of school on the second half of the year, and wasn’t always “on it” when I was there.

So enter my second years this year. Last period of the day and really feeling their eighth-grade selves. They roll in LOVING French! And so happy to be back together! And sooooooooo not even having any boundaries! And so chatty and just Devil-may-care about where people are, like, supposed to sit. Sorry, kids, if I’m like harshin your mellow, but I’m not tryna rewrite my seating chart every eight minutes!!! So, while they’re feeling young and wild and free, I’m feeling old and disrespected and annoyed.

I have a plan though.

It contains several steps.

One. Accept that there’s a problem. Accept that it’s going to take effort. This is shitty to accept. I HATE making an effort!!! But that’s what I gots to do. Make a stinking effort. It is either pay now or pay later, with a crap ton of interest. Gotta hit the reset button with a big hammer now or spend Spring term playing Whack-a-Mole.

Two. Have a Hallway Smackdown. That is what I like to call it when I meet my class in the hall before class starts and give them a Serious Talk about Expectations. Somehow doing it in the hall is so much more effective.

Three. Call home tomorrow while they write. Whenever the class needs to hit the reset button, it is a good time to give them some quiet work so that I can call home. Reading doesn’t really cut it. They need to be holding a pencil. So tomorrow I will have them do a reading assessment or a writing assessment or some type of an assessment. These kids had assessments all year last year so they know what’s up. I can just hand them an assessment that will take 20 minutes so that I can call home. Those in class phone calls are like pure teaching golden. It’s just that they take effort. And I hate effort.

Four. Cut myself some slack. I had a rough year last year and I’m still doing cleanup on aisle five right now. Honestly it was just like today I just all hit me. I was so tired that I slept my entire prep lying on the floor before this French class. I woke up and I was still groggy when they walked in. So I wasn’t as strong as I normally am. But that is what started scaring me. Because if I am tired now, think about how tired I’ll be when it comes to February. February in Portland is a special kind of hell. And with my proclivity for seasonal depression, I really need to build a functioning classroom system that doesn’t require me to expend a lot of energy. So being tired today was like a little taste of February, and I realized that I need to get this class whipped into shape. Which I will do. Starting tomorrow.

The only time classroom management is done is when you say it’s done. And I’m not the type to throw in the towel, just regroup and come back with a plan.

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