(This is part of the Slice of Life writing activity sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Come join us by writing about small moments each Tuesday.)
Something strange has happened in the dynamics of my classroom in the past two weeks or so. I’m not sure exactly where or what it springs from, and I struggling right now with how to right the ship, too. There are always pivot points each year in a classroom culture where the mood of a group of kids can suddenly turn from what you thought it was to something you were not expecting it to be at all.
I am at one of the pivots, and I don’t like it at all.
Sometimes, the pivot a good thing. Maturity kicks in. Friendships blossom. A cohesiveness emerges. You hope that, as the teacher, your work around community building has paid off, that the small things can make a big difference in the way kids see themselves, and the world — the small world of the classroom as well as the large world of the World.
Right now, my class is sort of in opposite mode, and I obviously won’t go into specifics, but there’s a small clique of students who are making negative ripples as part of social posturing, and I am worried about the tide. I’m not turning a blind eye to it. I’m addressing what I see, and what I hear, and what I hear about, as quickly and as judiciously as I can. I’m using positive reinforcement and negative consequences. Parents are involved. The administration is involved. And I am reaching into the teaching bag for all I have, in hopes I can change what needs to be changed so we can move forward with positive energy — all of us.
Still, youthful social dynamics can be a powerful force. On their own, each student in this clique is a nice kid. As a group, they become something I barely recognize at times when I hear some of the stories of how they treat others in the hallways, on the playground, on the bus. And, online, too. Never in the classroom, though.
I’m struggling to make it right, and it makes me sad and frustrated to know this, too, is part of teaching, when so many of my students just want a safe and fun place to learn each day.
Peace (in the think),