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    Me, Too!
    By Same Situation

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    Oh my gosh, your message sounds like it could have been written by me. I teach fifth grade, but I have the same situation. I team teach with the teacher next door, so I have a low group and a high group (middle group is in another class). In the low group I have four who are brand-new to the country, seven language learners besides those, five special ed, four major behavior problems, and the rest just low in general. Like you, I was eager to try all kinds of fun, hands-on projects and activities. And, like you, I found that some of the kids just couldn't handle them. Some don't get the instructions at all, even when I draw and example, show an example, and make it pretty basic in general. Some just can't handle the freedom to work independently without a worksheet, and some take this freedom as an opportunity to scream and get up. This is not the majority of the class, but enough to ruin things for everyone. The teacher next door had similar problems with the students doing the science curriculum, which calls for hands-on participation and discovery, as well as student participation in set-up and clean-up. This teacher and I agreed that the lower class cannot handle jobs like these that aren't VERY well-defined. Reluctantly, I had to go to doing very traditional, paper-and-pencil activities, and most of the time I had to be up there doing directed teaching. Dull? Yes. Quiet? Mostly.

    Anyway, I also had some parental complaints about the noise level. (This happened in the other fifth grade class that I don't have as well, so at least I know it's not just me.) One parent attacked me over the phone because her child had used the noise level as an excuse for failing tests. I apparently handled this situation totally wrong because I told her that some students in the class never did work (not her kids) and we were working on their noise level and work habits. The principal not only heard about this from the mom, but he honored this whiny woman's request to put her child in another class because I had apparently implied to her that this was the stupid class. While I do feel that I could have handled this situation better, I don't beat myself up for it because I know that it was my first time in such a situation and that this woman was difficult to deal with. Nonetheless, the principal (not so nice anyway) now has it in his mind that I have difficulty with control. I freak out whenever he or a parent comes in now, because if there's noise I feel like I'm going to get a major talking to again.

    I know how you feel. As soon as I went to doing more traditional methods and the noise stopped, I almost wanted to send a letter home to parents indicating that they had nothing to worry about because it was quiet now. But of course that would be weird.

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