I think I've survived, but not thrived.
I want next term to be more successful.
I can't tell you the number of times I've changed plans because what I had organised just wasn't going to work --- student concentration levels, student behaviour, student understanding. And that's normal. You have to be flexible. But I hate feeling like we can't do a hands on maths activity because students invariably throw items at each other. My students seem to learn best with hands on activities! But it's crowd control, sometimes, and that's awful. I am not a baby sitter.
I have high expectations, but I try to be fair. I expect students to listen. I expect them to try learning activities. I expect them to treat each other with respect (which means no hitting - it is a major problem in my classroom.) I'm very lenient with noise levels, since we have a class separated from others. In fact, sometimes, we purposefully make noise as the learning activity. (We sing, a lot.) I give as much positive reinforcement as I can. (Today, the well behaved students went home with crowns we made before Easter -- \o/ -- they were fucking adorable. I also wore one. Queen Laura! HEE! - Oh, did I mention that? My students call me by my first name.) I try and make sure we do a mixture of written, oral, kinetic and tactile work.
And yet... there's so much we didn't do this term and my students are absolutely nowhere near the outcomes they should be, even as English as a Foreign Language learners. We have read this one book - "The Little Red Hen" - every day this term (it's the screwed up mandated literacy program of the Lands.) I've split words like 'the' and 'red' and 'hen' into their separate sounds, taught the sounds separately and in context of words, with pictures, etc, in accordance to the phonics program I'm running. We've written, chosen the letters from others, mixed them up, made them out of playdough, found them in magazines. But not one student can recognise the words 'the', 'red' or 'hen'. They can't tell me what they are. They can't remember the sounds of the letters. It's heartbreaking. We do it every day. Multiple times!
The same for the numbers. Every day I write a number line, we sing the numbers in order, and in reverse, and then I jumble the numbers up on the interactive whiteboard and get them to put them in order, with corresponding dots -- and the only numbers most students seem to recognise are '1' and '3'. We practice counting blocks, we practice counting cuddly toys, we practice, practice, practice.
Some days, I just want to cry. It honestly doesn't seem like they've learnt anything with me.
Packing up routines have improved. Manners have improved. One student who couldn't write her name is now attempting to. Students have learnt stuff, just nothing quanitifiable. I want to be able to say "so-and-so can now recognise 5 letters", you know? I want to be able to say, "so-and-so can match number symbols to the correct number of dots." These are the basics.
This takes time, and I'm not impatient. We will work on this all year. I want us to succeed!