Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Building Relationships in Station Rotations #StartOver Day 16 and Day 17

Day 16- I lectured Monday so lecturing again Tuesday would be too much torture for my children. So I lectured for about 10 minutes during the morning period, then had students work on solving 2 questions as a group. They could write their work on the board or share a Google Slide with me for their presentation. Most groups chose the board. During the afternoon period, they had to present. Everyone had to speak.

I was pleased to find that all groups worked and they all presented. Even the EL students. They really struggled saying just one sentence, but they did it and I was proud. I came to United States from Korea a month before my Junior year was over in high school. I understand the struggle that EL students have to go through. I am sad I can't speak Spanish, but I am patient because I know how hard it is to get used to a new culture in addition to the language. The highlight of the day was when 2 groups got their work wrong. I was pleased to see that now my children are no longer afraid to be wrong. I told them their work was wrong and asked them to find out what they did wrong. I didn't forget to compliment them for doing the work anyhow. And added that their brain cells are growing because they are now looking for their mistake. The 2 groups persevered and figured it out with the help of the other group members.

Day 17- My favorite station rotation Wednesday! I slacked today. Most of my students now like me. This is really good, but also really bad. When I was their enemy, they hated me, but was compliant(I know that word is bad). Now that they know that all my phone calls home and threats are out of love, they try and take advantage of me. I have to admit, my big trouble-makers are kinda cute and funny. I put my foot down and didn't let 5 students go to the restroom today because they didn't work. I saw their disappointed faces and explained to them why I said no. I told them they have to show me evidence that they were working to go to the restroom. All 5 decided to stay put. It looks like my students are loving station rotations because unless they are in my station, they are pretty much free from my reign. I need to fix this problem. Sebastian advised me today that I should ignore the troublemakers and pay more attention to students like himself who are behaving and patiently waiting for my attention. I thought about it. He was right. If I keep chasing my trouble makers, even students like Sebastian will be tempted to act out because they all want my attention. Trust me. I feel the energy when they walk in. They really truly want so much attention from me. It almost feels like they are deprived of love and attention and they try to fill their tanks during the two periods they are with me. And I'm willing to pour into their tanks.

During second period, we had a surprise visit from my principal. There was one child who earned honor roll in my #StartOver class! I was so proud. I recorded the whole thing and took many pictures.

On Monday during our PLC, my department friends were talking about apathy and the academic level of our students. One teacher spoke of spending time Fridays to sit with individual students and making them work. I couldn't hold myself and threw in my two cents about how great he is, because he really is, and then said how station rotations works great for that purpose. Most of my students, and I'm sure yours as well, are conditioned to work only when we attend to them. Even during station rotations, while I help one out of the 6 children in my station, the other 5 are looking at the ceiling or hiding their phone in front of their Chromebook and watching something. Once I am done helping one child with one problem, I help the next child and the one that just worked with me is now suddenly not doing anything. There is nothing I can do about that. But I have now helped one child with one problem. I don't know how much that will help the individual students with their grades, but it's much better than letting them be or blaming them or beating them to compliance. I need to make sure that during my 16 minutes with each of the 6 students, I help as many students as possible.

But I mentioned earlier that I slacked today. I meant that I spent about 5 minutes out of the 16 socializing with them today. I know I shouldn't have, but deep inside my heart I wanted them to finally smile back at me and be kind to me. Today they were being silly and telling me about their little cut on their finger and why they think I am crazy. I did get them to work a little, but I wanted to enjoy the "Ms. Choi, I want you to pay more attention to me" pleas and the "if you like anyone else more than me, then I'll have to beat up all the girls in here" threats. And those beautiful smiles as they say, "this is my favorite station."

So that was great in itself. But I also had day 2 of Girls Who Code and a few more girls showed up. I'll write about that another day.

Finally, as I wearily walked towards my car at 4:30 because I promised myself I will go indoor rock-climbing today, the administrator in charge of counseling walked towards me, away from his car. I'm like, "no, I need to go home before 5 today. Wait. We were all happy today. Which child went to Mr. Wise and complained about me again? Is he going to send me more students with multiple suspensions to my class? What would be so important that the man over there would walk away from his car and towards me?" Those few seconds looking at him walking towards me was the worst. Once he approached me, he told me that he had a meeting with his counseling department today. He said that the counselors are aware that I have a concentration of certain demographics in my #StartOver classes. He said that if there is anything they can do to support me, they would. I hugged him. I almost felt like crying. I told him I'm having a hard time and I don't even know what kind of support I need because I'm in the thick of things, but I told him I'm grateful.

I know that there is nothing they can really do to help me. They probably mean that maybe they'll listen to me when I complain? I don't know. But even if nothing changes and I still don't get any support, knowing that they know how difficult it is for me made me happy.

Volunteering to teach this class and deciding to #StartOver might have been a good thing for me after all. I like my job a little more today than other days. My body is sore because I haven't gone rock-climbing for about a month or so. I'm going to bed.

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