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Natural Consequences

Dear Class,

Today, when you walked in, I had a little surprise for you.

In case you’re not aware of what happened, please allow me to refresh your memories.

Yesterday, you thought you had the right to disrupt class.

You continued to talk, despite numerous attempts on my part to quiet the chatter.

Did I yell?

Nope.

Did I threaten?

Of course not.

Did I create a plan?

You bet.

That plan came to fruition when you walked into class today, and I announced that we would be having a test.

You balked.

You complained.

You said, “You didn’t tell us we were having a test!”

Oh, but you see, I had warned you.

I had cautioned that you were acting as if you understood how to make inferences.

My words went unheeded.

Thus, I enacted a plan that would teach you that your choices have consequences.

While you sat, in shock, I presented you with very difficult reading passages that included twenty-four comprehensive questions.

It was not an easy exam.

I calmly explained that your previous day’s behavior had led me to believe that you were fully confident in your ability to answer inference questions, so I would be administering the summative assessment I had planned on giving when I was finished teaching the unit.

Then, you got down to work.

There were grumbles, and some of you tried to pretend that you weren’t going to take the test.

I even heard one of you quietly say that you were going to “Christmas tree” the exam.

I had a plan, though.

See, I’m an overachiever who doesn’t leave many details to chance.

On the exam, I wrote the words “Explain your answer” on every question that referenced main idea or inference.

I also cautioned that failing to do so would result in the additional loss of points.

As you gave in and realized that yes, you really had to take the test, I heard some of you quietly say things like, “I can’t figure this out,” or “I don’t know the answer.”  I even heard someone say, “I don’t know how to explain the answer.”

I gently advised you to do your best before I walked away.

This is something we adults like to call “tough love.”

The test took most of the blocked time we were in class.

You left angry.

That’s okay.  I think I might have been if I’d been in your place.

But here’s the thing.

I wouldn’t have been.

Do you want to know why?

It’s because I always appreciated my teachers.

I understood the importance of taking my education seriously.

I loved to learn, even when I struggled.

I also knew that there would be consequences for my actions.

As I reviewed the results from your exam, my suspicions were confirmed.

You did not, in fact, know what you were doing.

Lo and behold, you actually NEED me and the instruction I’m painstakingly putting together.

I think that when you find out how you did, you might actually find yourselves agreeing with me.

Heck.  You might already be feeling that way…might have been ever since you laid your eyes on those questions.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my class is the most important one you’ll take while you’re at Podunk High School.

I’m teaching you strategies that will help you comprehend ANYTHING you’ll have to read from this point forward.

Word of advice:  STOP goofing off and START paying attention.

Have a heart-to-heart with your friends in class who are not focused.

You are in this together, and if your scores go down, the blame will rest on ALL of you.

I want to assure you that I won’t allow your behavior to discourage me.

I’ll walk into class each day with a hopeful heart because I KNOW what you’re capable of.

Our unit on Main Idea taught me that.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas break, and that you come back to school refreshed from the rest and fun you’ll be partaking of.

Bring a good attitude when you come back and know that we’ll be continuing our unit on inference.

You’ll have an opportunity to fix those horrible grades you just earned.

I’m kind that way.

Be thankful that you have a teacher who cares enough to provide you with the opportunity to experience natural consequences in a very tangible way.

Stay strong and POSITIVE!

Love,

Mrs. AuburnChick

Dear Fred Jones

Dear Fred Jones,

I am one of the lucky (cough) educators who is sitting through your 12-week course on how to manage my classroom.

I’d heard “interesting” comments about your videos…how long-winded you are, etc.

I have to admit that I entered the first training session with a bad attitude.

Oh, who am I kidding.  I am not usually thrilled to be there most weeks.

See, I’d rather be home, relaxing for ten minutes, before sitting down to spend three or four more hours tweaking my lesson plans.

As a third-year teacher, the work load is still very overwhelming at times.

BUT, with that said, I must balance out this post with the positives.

See, I am a reflective teacher who is quick to apply lessons I learn to my own classroom.

I stood, amazed, as I watched my most difficult class succumb to my charms as I used tips from that first training week.

My class began to straighten up.

I wondered if it was a coincidence, but the same thing happened the next week!

And the week after!

So, I have become a fan.

Not of the Thursday afternoon sessions in a portable that makes me nauseous (I have a lot more empathy for my own students now).

I have become a fan of your ways…

Because the tips from last week proved especially helpful yesterday during an especially difficult class session.

With Christmas Break soon upon us, my students think they should be able to party.

My message is different.

We work.

Thus, we are butting heads.

I reached my boiling point around 1:40pm yesterday.

I took a page from your book and inhaled deeply.

I loosened my jaw muscles.

I put a blank stare on my face.

And I waited, in silence.

My kids began to quiet down.

They grew fidgety as their nervousness increased.

There’s something about a teacher who suddenly grows silent.

I think they saw the wheels in my head turning.

I calmly had them put their folders away quietly and according to procedures.

Then, I read aloud to them for fifteen minutes.

We’d wasted over thirty minutes because they couldn’t control their mouths.

But still, I was calm.

Oh yes, to be sure, I was plotting.

This class seemed to think it was ready for an inferencing test.

They seemed to think they didn’t need my instruction.

Well, they are going to have to put their money where their mouths are and, basically, discover that they do, in fact, need my explicit instruction.

The term “pop quiz” never sounded so sweet.

To be sure, I probably won’t count it as a grade.

Or I will, and I’ll allow them the opportunity to fix it as I teach the skill.

Either way, my classroom will be very quiet tomorrow as their brain cells sizzle in shock.

Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a page from your book, Mr. Jones, and monitor their progress with a relaxed air.

To be sure, Friday, it will be a bit crazy in school.

As for that class, instead of watching a fun movie that calls for inferencing, we’ll be doing the inferencing lesson they refused to allow me to teach yesterday.

So thank you, Mr. Jones, for your practical tips and advice.

Sincerely,

Mrs. AuburnChick

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