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    Difficult Students
    By Susan

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    James, it sounds like you're a typical first year teacher. Last year was my first year. I had fifth grade. Like many first year teachers, I ended up with all the kids whose parents wouldn't complain that their kids got a brand-new teacher ... which meant that I had mostly parents who didn't care ... and you know how many of their kids turn out. Not only did I have the lowest track in our fifth grade system, I had all the resource kids, four kids who didn't speak any English, and most of the serious behavior problems. I had kids who came to school so angry that they were already yelling at me first thing in the morning, and kids who took their anger about bus/playground troubles out on me. Half the time basic classroom tasks seemed impossible. The principal was not supportive and told me often how weak my classroom management skills were. Looking back, that was a horrible year.

    This year I have second grade, and I'm part of a program parents have to request to get their kids into. All the kids are nice. Parents are supportive. The class is much smaller than my other one. Whereas last year I spent all day disciplining, now I can actually get some teaching done.

    Did I change drastically over the summer? Probably not. But I did get a whole different group of kids, and now everything is better. I do believe that a teacher can improve his/her management skills for dealing with difficult students, but in reality I think a lot of management has to do with the luck of the draw of who you get in your class.

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