I don’t even know where to begin.

The method of discipline involved moving magnets up and down a spectrum (up for good, down for bad). The hassle this caused cost me 20 minutes in the morning and then another 15 during spelling time. At first, kids were being “helpful” by moving magnets up and down based on whether their classmates were doing good. This was followed by kids moving up their own magnets. Tattling is always a headache, but this just formalized it. Worse, the more I had to monitor that, the less I could monitor the classroom, all of whom were on the play carpet supposed to be reading. But they weren’t reading, therefore more magnets were being moved.

Then there was the pencil-sharpening debacle, another 15 minutes. Everybody in the whole daggun class had an unsharpened pencil. The bickering at the pencil sharpener meant that I had to just sharpen them myself. At some point, I am pretty sure kids were just breaking their pencils because the sharpener was where the action was.

Elementary school kids are actually generally quite good about participating. Particularly when it comes to the Direct Instruction stuff because they love yelling out the repeat-after-me’s. From a teaching perspective, I don’t like DI because it just feels stupid and rote, though ideologically I don’t have a problem with it because it’s really supposed to work. But I could barely get half of the class involved.

Early grade schoolers are also surprisingly good about ceding to authority, generally speaking, but I was almost at the point where I was just going to pick up the kids and physically put them at their desks. Except for the degree of trouble it would have gotten me in.

Apparently yesterday there was a big thing about bullying, so accusations of bullying were flying everywhere. About a half-dozen kids all just left after lunch to go to the principal/counselor/nurse. I had to get the other teacher involved to straighten that all out.

There was one case of bullying that I almost had nailed. The kids were playing dodgeball and a kid was crying on the ground due to some other kid’s “unfair” balltoss. I didn’t see that, but the kid he was pointing at then proceeded to throw the dodgeball straight at his head while he was one the ground. The crying kid ran away. When I finally found him, he refused to identify the kid that did it. I would have come down on the bully anyway, but it was one of three kids (all with shaggy blond hair, all wearing NFL-logo jackets) and I wasn’t positive which one it was. I needed the bullied to point him out and he refused to do so.

Speaking of which, dodgeball really is a mixed blessing. I am strangely happy to see it, but it does involve a lot of injuries and a lot of crying. With the exception of the above, the crying tends to be temporary.

One kid is so excitable that they have to put her in a jacket lined with metal to keep her from running around everywhere.

One little girl (actually, one of the good ones) got a papercut. I basically told her to tough it up (I couldn’t see the cut, no matter how hard I tried). Five minutes later she was bawling. So off to the nurse she went. After which, other kids started trying to injure themselves so that they could go to the nurse, too.

I actually had a frame of reference here. One of the girls in this first grade class was in the first grade class I taught at “the good school” (Rushmore). She was held back for a questionable reason: she was doing fine, but her Irish Twin needed to be held back and so the parents held them both back to keep them together. The difference in behavior between first graders and second graders is negligible and favorable to the former, so she wasn’t an outstanding student because she was more “mature” than her classmates. She was just a diamond in the rough. At Rushmore, she was a middle of the pack student that I really only remembered because she would keep hugging me. So in the context of Rushmore, she was average. In the context here, she was far and away the best student I had. Only one other came close.

I found it noteworthy that all three of the students I was “warned” about by the other teacher were male. The worst offenders were almost all female (one of the three she pointed to were an exception).

I’m going to have to come up with some better classroom management strategies. Not all of my grade school assignments are going to be at Creston and Rushmore.

I’ve taught previously at this school, Church Elementary, with a couple of pretty decent classes.

Notably, however, when I was last at Rushmore, one of my students was the daughter of Church’s principal.

“The main thing is to keep them from killing each other. If they learn something along the way, even better.” -The other first grade teacher.


Category: School

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8 Responses to 1st Grade: Worst Class Ever

  1. Peter says:

    A jacket lined with metal?

  2. trumwill says:

    Yeah, like metal stitched in to keep her from moving around so much.

  3. stone says:

    Nothing excites Junior, 5, more than an owie. He lives for bandaids.

    I wish I could see how the kindergarten teacher wrangles 15 kids, but parents aren’t allowed in there. Maybe they all have metal jackets. I wonder if I could buy one for home use.

    What kind of homework do the first-graders get?

  4. trumwill says:

    No homework at the moment. I vaguely remember perfunctory homework when I taught at Rushmore last year. It might be over the course of the year that homework is introduced.

  5. Brandon Berg says:

    Does the metal constrain her via rigidity, or via weight?

  6. stone says:

    No homework?! What’s the demographic breakdown of the class?

    My small sampling of kindergarteners in my general area found that while private-school kindergartners get more homework, the public schools still give it. It’s usually the difference between nightly assignments and a weekly packet, and more weekly tests.

  7. trumwill says:

    Well, maybe there is a weekly deal that I didn’t see since I was in the middle of the week.

    As for demographics, they wore unexpectedly nice clothes (the fact that there were three kids with NFL jackets was surprising – my parents would never buy me that sort of thing) for the neighborhood we’re talking. It’s one of two schools that is a hop, jump, and skip from downtown. Not much in the way of mobile homes, but not very nice homes, either (some homes boarded up). Lewis, the other school where I more frequently sub, usually has an Amerindian kid or two in each class, but this one didn’t (there was a black girl, but that was it).

  8. stone says:

    Some day when you have time I’d be interested in reading what they have you teach at each grade. Some of the stuff Junior is expected to master seems really advanced compared to what I remember of kindergarten or even first grade, but then again that was decades ago. On the one hand people wring their hands about how American kids are falling behind, but on the other hand school seems a lot harder and more demanding.

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