Monday, August 30, 2010

First school day... kinda

Hmmmm, when I was awakened this morning at about 5am by a lovely angel of mine, I didn't expect the unexpected, nor did I contemplate the confrontations I would possibly face. I brought a few supplies, nothing printed out to handout and definitely no treats to entice the masses. My room is filled with no posters, no work on the wall, and no "listen2thompson" cool quotes. Not because I don't want them, but because, well, to put it bluntly... I'm broke as a joke. There's no sound heard here nor there , it's eerily quiet for a first school day, until I realized... I'm an hour early. So I get my final wakeup on and BLAST my theme song. "ALL I DO IS WIN, WIN, WIN NO MATTER WHAT!!!" And then throw on some Trey Songz - Already Taken, to calm myself and remind me of my inamorata. And finally I ended my jam session with Big Daddy Kayne's - Ain't No Half Steppin!!! Ah yes now I've got my mind right. Throw a few last minute things together, check the status of this and that and... times up... there's the bell.

"Welcome to Mr. Thompson's class" is what is read across the top of the white board. Students flood in carrying index cards, some are able to find the instructions and follow them by filling out information about themselves on the cards. Others are loud, looking to see what I'm seeing and noticing, trying my nerve and testing the so-called "new teacher." The late bell rings, I walk in to the front of class and bring out my timer and announce, (all in one breath), "You have 30 seconds to get those shirts tucked in, those hoods off and in compliance with the school dress policy or else you will spend your nutrition with me learning how to dress yourself accordingly." I'm counting down to the last second, pointing at unacceptable tuckings. The tone is beginning to be set, but just as I begin to let them know how it's going to be everyday, I am getting disrespectfully challenged. There was a lot of chitchat going on; and that is so not acceptable in my class. "HEY!!!!" "LISTEN UP!!!" It had become apparent to me that I must set these youngsters in place right now. "First rule... when I'm talking you are absolutely not! Because if you're talking while I am, then you can't listen. And if you can't listen then you can't learn. Therefore if you aren't learning, and so what are you here for?" This is all stated with my wrinkled forehead look. Going on with my no nonsense speech, I further exclaimed... "I'm not here for you to like me, I'm here for you to learn from me. Now, on another note... I have a serious attitude, and I'm fine if you have one yourself because you should, BUT... just make sure you don't have one with me. Because if you do then you're going to have a problem, that you can't solve and in a dilemma that I always win. So I understand people having positive and negative attitudes about different things, just remember to not start something or bring that wrong attitude in this class." Hmmmmm. Now picture yourself, a seventh grader with a seemingly mean and upset Black math teacher with an attitude in front of you that ends his little speech with... And when I say something I mean it, and I'm not playing. Sounds fun huh?

Now I'm sure a lot of you might say... oh my child won't have a teacher talking to them like that. Or maybe... that's uncalled for, there's no need to scare kids like that. Perhaps some of y'all think... well, I wish my kids would have had someone like that as their teacher to keep them in check. And I'm sure there's, at best, one of you who'll read this and think.... mmmm hmmmm discipline me Mr. T. HEH HEH HEH sorry that was out of line, and off topic. My point is this, there are many ways to begin class with middle school kids and this no nonsense approach has always given me great results and began a great rapport between my students and I. You can believe me or not, I don't care; go try teaching yourself and then give me your opinion. HEH HEH HEH
We continued with an activity, and then moved on to discuss my syllabus that had the class rules and procedures. More rules??? Oh yes, my first rules were to keep the class in check, the syllablus rules keep the class running smoothly. But the kicker to discussing my syllabus is not the ordinary hand it out and we read it word for word. Oh no no no, my students will not get a copy just yet. I will explain key points out loud and they will take notes on it, leaving it in their notebooks for future reference. I dish out details on everything from the course objective, to the BE PROMPT, BE PREPARED, BE POLITE, BE POSITIVE (you better believe I put my optimisim in there), to required materials, to grading and cheating. Every student took notes, some better than others, but they all know now. I'll give them a copy to take home and return on Wednesday. What? Why would I do that you say? Well, actually the copier was occupied this morning, so I improvised.

I may be losing a few of you by now... so let me get to the meat and potatoes. Did the day go smoothly and controlled? No. Did I have to yell at anyone and get in a kid's face or put my fingers in someone face? Come on now, of course.... not. That's not my style. I'm smarter than these kids and my words are my weapons. I don't need to swear or insult or belittle or demean anyone. BUT... you better believe, I kept kids after class individually and as a whole group, had sidebars with a few, made kids stand that didn't know how to sit, made kids get up and mingle that thought everyone was going to come to them, and even had a student shadow me around class because he wasn't very clear on how to follow instructions. Am I mean? Heh, I can be the meanest or I can be the nicest teacher you've ever met! You choose what you want, it's all about your attitude. I told them that too. Oh btw, one student already said, "I already like you better than my past math teachers, you're cool Mr. Thompson." And of course I cracked that mischievous smile of mine and said... "We'll see."

THANKS FOR READING, now please comment, criticize or congratulate below or somewhere. =^_^= MuchLuv2All
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  1. You rock! I think your methods make sense. I wish I used them when I was teaching in the Bronx. Although, I did have the little white girl thing working against me too!
    I am so proud of you. We need more teachers like you out there. I will donate some supplies, let me know what you need! xoxo Angela

  2. Well done Mr. Thompson! If my children had a teacher like you I would 100% support you in every effort in your classroom and out! Why? Because my mother happens to be a teacher also, and a NO nonsense teacher with a proven success rate! I am very impressed w/your blog, your approach to your classroom and to teaching. The kids will appreciate your approach too! Gives them life lessons on following instructions, dealing with people, and being held accountable for their actions! ROCK ON!! Good luck to you and much success to you and your students! Angelique

  3. Way to set the tone!... I like the fact it's a no nonsense attitude structure..kudos!!!

  4. Very cool my brother. Well said. Ten!