Keeping The True Class Spirit Alive
I have been a teacher for nearly 10 years now. I have taught in different countries across the country and dealt with all types of children and older students. I began teaching kids in third grade, and gradually went higher. I now teach 10th grade students. Recently, I transferred to a small suburban high school in Kansas City and began teaching a group of 10th graders English. Although the group comprised of students from different backgrounds, they were all African American. They didn’t just need a good lesson on English, but they also needed a teaching on etiquettes.
All the 18 students had been living under poverty. This meant most of them were related to or were themselves involved in gangs and crime. The girls smoked and a 3 of them were underage mothers. Their backgrounds counted for their styles of living and their sense of behavior. The first day I entered the class, I can still recall how loud and rowdy they were. Their boisterous actions were shocking. They spoke in a slang I could not understand and they all seemed to insult or disrespect the other. I knew I had a large task on my shoulders, but I had something up my sleeve for them.
The very first day, I gave the students a task of forming two lines, with 9 in each row. The two lines stood facing each other. I told them all to tell them about their life history briefly: where they grew up, what their parent’s occupation was, and what type of lifestyle they had. This way, the class got to know each other well. If the children in a class associate well with each other, it leads to less disruption in the class as they work together more peacefully.
The next day, I decided to hand over books to them that carried a difficult life for a person. I started with “The Diary Of Anne Frank” which the students read enthusiastically within a week. I told them to write down their life story that way without giving their names in it. I read each one’s story in class throughout the semester. The impact each story left on these student s was indescribable as some of the stories were truly heartfelt and sad, where most of them even poured out their secrets.
I gave classes according to the syllabus, but I kept the class spirit alive by adjoining every lecture with fun activities. We would sing, we would go outside and study, or I would take them on class trips. With the passage of time, I saw a glimmer of hope and interest in the students. They wanted to learn more and study more. No matter how the student is, he will begin finding interest in your class when you keep him motivated and when you do not overburden him with schoolwork, and your class spirit will flourish even more!
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