Year: 1996-1997
Month: November
Leader: Group E

Situation/Case Study:

My second-third grade art students are boisterous. We practice coming and going but it doesn't seem to help. It seems like it's out of control. It seems like the kids are always angry. I think I started out on the wrong foot with these kids. It's my hardest age group. I have four preps in a row and I'm teaching in two schools as the art specialist. Because of this schedule it's hard for me to do any organization between the preps. Maybe the kids are frustrated in what they have to do in art. Right now we are working on fruit and vegetable prints. The second/third graders do not seem to enjoy this; maybe it is not age appropriate. The second/third kids can't keep their hands off the supplies when they come in and they make a mess of things for me. I've asked them to be my helpers. With so many preps I still don't know all of their names. The anger comes from kids who challenge me. Sometimes I label the behaviors as disrespectful. The kids seem to mimic me. I don't seem to be tapping into self-management. The high ceiling in the room seems to make the noise level even louder. We have only a half-hour to get projects done. I'm embarrassed when things don't get picked up on time. I'm insecure in what I am doing. There are many good kids who look at me and seem to be saying "Can't you do something?" I'm failing these kids. I have 25-27 students at a time. I've got so much to do. I can't do both the curriculum and the management at the same time. The fourth/fifth graders get a whole hour and I'm better with them. The second/third graders just challenge me all the time. They complain "You have something different every time we come in."

The teacher feels frustrated because she doesn't have enough time to do her job with these kids. Why do I have to rush? The teacher is irritated because some kids don't appreciate what I am trying to do for them. Kids should value my lessons more. The teacher is pressured to complete too many outcomes in too short of time. The teacher is victimized because a well planned lesson fall on deaf ears and she takes it personally. The teacher feels cheated because of the short time and so many kids. The teacher feels ineffective because some continue to disobey and handle the materials. The teacher feels confused-- is it because of them or me that these problems are happening? The teacher feels limited because she’s isolated from the rest of the staff. “I’m not on the building team it seems and I don’t know about the kids because I don't get any prep in the building.” There is no time to talk with other adults about things. The teacher feels frustrated because the kids don't seem to be enjoying the art projects. The teacher feels disconnected. The teacher is confused by the variety of messages from the kids. The teacher feels pressured by the idea that I have to do a good job to get the lesson across. The teacher feels frustrated by not fulfilling the needs of kids who want to learn. The teacher feels frustrated: “my plans don't seem to happen, things change and I spend too much time on discipline.” The teacher feels frustrated that She doesn’t have enough time to get to know the kids the way other teachers do. “I'm a teacher viewed as "not their teacher" by the kids. I feel like an outsider.”

Theories behind practice:

Impact on others:
I'm hungry for more information. I know I'm not the only one dealing with these problems. I want to be part of a team. I feel I'm a disciplinarian. I am disconnected from the school and the kids. My curriculum could pull that out. I have been teaching thematically but maybe too much. Maybe I'm plugging in too many outcomes. I am frustrated. I am questioning my own teaching skills. I must better connect with the kids. I haven't established a classroom environment yet. I am confused. The structure of the situation is tough. Have the kids picked up something from the other teachers? Do they value the art lessons? Have the other teachers used your art themes in their rooms or displayed student projects? The students don't feel connected when they come to art; maybe it doesn't tie into the rest of the day. The kids are comparing you to the previous art teacher who was popular. The kids are testing you for your limits and standards. The kids should see art as the focus and not your anger. What are the kids learning from you? Are the kids learning confusion and that art is not fun?

Make more connections to teachers. The art teacher should put in words what the kids are doing for art and how it connects to the other teachers' themes. The art teacher should have the group set behavior guidelines and make a chart all agree to. Refer offenders to the number on the chart as a shorthand comment for behavior change. Say "Jean, number 2, please." Look at your cooperative discipline book, there are good suggestions there. Go to the three worst offenders privately with a "if you do this then this will happen" good thing. There are too many new teachers in this building for the kids to adjust this year. Find a spot for a group area where you can sit with just a few kids. Let kids say what would be fun to print with once in awhile. Work for better transitions. Tell kids "If you know what you are going to do today, go do it. If you need directions come sit with me." If students don't want to work as a group why should they have to? I think you're way to hard on yourself. Maybe the sad ones don't want to leave because they like your class so much.