In military and police training, they have a week called "Hell Week." It's considered the toughest week of training, the time when people either step up or step out. This past week felt a little bit like my teaching "Hell Week." Let me explain....
On Tuesday, I gave my kids their first test of the year. It was over literary terms, something that may not be thrillingly exciting, but is very necessary for English class success. Every class period my students would come in and say "We had a test?!" or "Uh oh, I totally forgot to study." or "Can we just do this tomorrow?"
Uh oh is right. I was so afraid of what was going to happen when I graded those tests. And those fears were realized. Yikes. However, part of the problem was me. I gave them wayyyyy too many matching questions in a row. Talk about test anxiety. All morning, my seventh graders would open their test packets and stare at the matching with their mouths gaping open. I have three A's all day. I teach 127 students. Enough said.
On Wednesday, Hell Week continued when one of my sixth grade classes pushed me over the edge. One mistake of the first year, young teacher, at least in my case, is that you have this desire to be the "cool" teacher. You want to be nice and let things slide, and never really give a detention. However, on Wednesday in sixth grade, the honeymoon was over. I felt helpless as they just kept pushing the envelope, seeing just how much talking they could get away with in my class. Well kids, I mean business. Thursday started a new era in my teaching career with the advent of the DH List. I just started writing names on the board whenever I saw a kid talking inappropriately, and then followed up. No more empty threats from me, kids. I can't make you learn, but I can make you stay quiet so other people can learn. I gave four detention halls on Thursday and Friday alone in one class period, and it killed me. I am terrible at playing "tough teacher." But I will not be letting up until the problem is contained. Done and DONE.
Also on Thursday, my kids had to take a module test. These tests are prep for the Benchmark in the spring. We have no idea what exactly will be on it. We can't really completely prepare our kids for it. We just have to smile and say "Do your best!". Kids hate it; I hated it. Yuck. On top of that, it was their second test in a week. Sorry kids, Ms. Herring didn't plan so well.....On Friday, I let my kids do a retake on the matching section of their test, to fix the test anxiety problem I had caused. Since they now knew I meant business, most of them studied this time around, and grades went up considerably.
It was a tough week, for me and for the kids, but I feel like we both stepped up. I even had a student get a 100% on her module test! I know this is not the last tough week I will ever have at school. Far from it, I'm sure it's the first of many. But I'm stepping up. I can do this. And at least I always know I have Saturday and Sunday to recuperate.