Home > Relationships, Teaching > Walking into the wind

Walking into the wind

One of my students has dominated our classroom all year with her energy, volume, and constant need for attention.  She is bright, articulate, highly capable, and a great conversation partner one-on-one, but has a very hard time being one of 15-19 other children in the room.  She recently moved and the change in our classroom has been dramatic:

  • The first day after her move, the class finally got a big star in music (something they’ve been trying and failing to do since September).
  • The second day, I picked them up from P.E. and was told, “We didn’t get in trouble at all!!”
  • The third day, we finally reached our class-wide behavior goal and earned a free-choice celebration.
  • The fourth day my instructional coach visited and commented on how much quieter and less on edge my students were.
  • And the fifth day, another teacher told me she was amazed by how well my class was walking in the hall all week – what had I done to create such a dramatic change?

For me, it is as though I spent all year walking into a gale-strength headwind…and the wind suddenly stopped.  I’m standing a little taller, getting places a little faster, and feeling way less tired at the end of each day.  And my students are benefiting, too.  For the first time all year, writing workshop is actually a quiet time, and the amount and quality of writing they’re creating is reflecting the better working conditions.  In addition, with volume and behavior under control, I can actually have high-value teaching conferences with students about their writing without being constantly disrupted by classroom management needs.  Most importantly, all of the students whose behavior needed my attention all year but whom I just couldn’t get to when this one student was taking up so much of my time – these students are starting to get what they need and that is allowing the whole classroom to settle down even more.

Teachers say it all the time: one student can change everything.  While I honestly miss my girl who moved (and appreciate that email allows us to keep in touch), I am incredibly grateful to have these coming months without her to reshape our classroom community and give the rest of the students the attention they so need and deserve.

  1. March 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I taught High School for 2 years and I can totally relate! Obviously you must be elementary, but in one respect group psychology of children is the same no matter what grade they are in.

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