Today I was a 5th grade teacher at Robeson Elementary. I was subbing for my mother-in-law and was expecting to have a pretty good day. After all, my last experience in her class, about a month ago, was phenomenal.
Alas, it was not to be.
The class wasn’t horrible today. They were just bouncing off the walls. It was chaotic. Three boys were extremely disruptive, to the point that all three should have been sent to the office but only one was. There were eight who weren’t disruptive, just inattentive. No matter what we were doing, they were doing something else. Quietly, to be sure, but still not on task at all. I kept reminding them, and they kept drifting off into their own worlds. It was weird, because they were, for the most part, some of the students who are typically very well-behaved and frequently contributing to class discussions.
Of course, that left thirteen students who were actually very well-behaved. They were on task, participating, and seemed to be working hard. But it is difficult to work hard when the students around you are causing problems. Still, even in the midst of chaos, we had some good things happening. I started them on a social studies unit about war and learned that they have a very mature understanding of why people go to war against each other. They also have a fairly decent understanding, especially for 11-year-olds, of the various conflicts the United States has been involved in. (Although I was sad to learn that none of them had heard of the War on Drugs. I might ask my mother-in-law if I can come in as a guest speaker to talk to them about drug and alcohol abuse. After all, I have been in the drug prevention field for nearly half my life.) We discussed wars in general and then started talking about the Great War. I also had the opportunity to tell them about Simo Hayha, the Finnish sniper known as White Death, and Yang Youde, the Chinese farmer who used homemade cannons to defend his farm from being taken over by a development corporation. Both men were cited as examples of single individuals essentially declaring war on a large group. [NOTE: Both of the previous links contain inappropriate language. I chose to cite these articles over the Wikipedia ones because the Wikipedia articles are boring. Neither article was actually cited or quoted in class!]
So even with all of the chaos going on today, I hope we were able to accomplish something worthwhile. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow, since I am going to be at the same school subbing for a different teacher.