Somewhere in my first semester of teaching, a colleague remarked that there’s a big difference between first semester freshmen and second semester freshmen. I tried not to think too much about her comment as there wasn’t anything I could do about it — I just tried to enjoy the ninth graders I had as they figured out their place in high school.
Very early in the new semester, however, I learned just how right she was. Students were chatty and fought me every step of the way of trying to work toward a more respectful, thoughtful classroom. Our school behaviorist came and observed the class a few times and suggested a few modifications that helped (weekly community meetings and a reward system among others). When we returned from spring break, however, a few students became completely divested from our big goal of showing respect. After one particularly trying community meeting where they made it clear that my expectations of no talking over top of others and kindness were just too much to expect, I wrote the following letter to share during the next free write: Read More