Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss Viola Swamp

So, I have refrained from posting for the last almost 3 weeks for a very specific reason. Teaching has been making me miserable. I decided it would be best to not post my very negative feelings about the job I thought I would love.

Why have my last few weeks been so terrible? There is a very simple answer. Poor classroom management on my part (much ado to my lack of experience, I hope) has made life in my classroom simply awful. Now, I must say that I have some extreme cases that make life more difficult to begin with (serious family problems and home lives, DHS cases, the list goes on) but that doesn't excuse the fact that my kids are behaving the way they have been. I was too easy in the beginning. I have come to realize that loving and teaching these kids in high poverty and broken homes looks much different than loving and teaching the well-supported kids back in Stillwater. I have been struggling with why the same classroom management techniques aren't working here . . . simply, they are a completely different demographic of kids, with a completely different set of needs.

I have been embarrassed by my kids' behavior not only in the classroom, but outside of it. Comments from other teachers (and the principal) make it more and more obvious that we've got a problem in my room. I've got 4 girls who cannot go a few minutes without exploding into an uncontrollable argument and 3 kids with serious defiant attitudes that have to stop. Today was the last straw . . . something's gotta give.

After a good cry on the special ed teacher's couch in her room (she's a lifesaver and I wouldn't be making it through this year without her) and some suggestions from other teachers, there is a new game plan. I've got to be mean . . . like, really, really mean. No more excuses or arguing. I'm done.

Are you familiar with the book Miss Nelson is Missing! ? In the story, Miss Nelson is a sweet, nice, soft-spoken teacher whose class becomes out of control. One day, instead of Miss Nelson, a substitute comes in . . . "Miss Viola Swamp." She is terrible and mean and scares the kids into what we consider to be "acceptable behavior." In the end, Miss Nelson "returns" though it shows her scary Miss Swamp outfit peeking out of her closet. Her kids were so thankful to have her back!

Starting tomorrow, Miss Swamp will be replacing Miss Davis for awhile! Desks have been rearranged, privileges are being pulled, and the nice, quiet teacher is officially going to be absent for awhile. I'll let you know how it goes!

P.S. I had my first formal observation from my principal this week, and it went fine, though I was super nervous! My kids managed to control themselves for the 15 minutes she was in my classroom.

From the determined desk of,
Miss Davis


  1. Oh no!!! Allison this is horrible! That made me so sad to read =( I was wondering where all your updates were!

    Anyway, so like, do you still love teaching for teaching's sake? Like I mean you can't possibly hate everything! Is it just like hard patch because of the kids?

    You know, 5 years from now when you're a seasoned teacher, you'll look back on this and chuckle. I'm happy to hear that you've been getting support from other teachers though! I'm sure they've been in your place before.

    Don't give up! (i know it's easy for me to say.. i just sit in front of a comupter all day). But seriously, you're just one of the most wonderful people ever and you'll pull through. Although I do agree it's time for Miss Meany tocome out. PLEASE take a video of you taeching someday =D Or get Brent to! I'd love to see!!1 Also, taht book sounds amazign =)

  2. First of all, I love you. I love you. I love you. I just thought you might like a reminder.

    Now, as for teaching, I understand completely. I have to remind myself daily that life in Stillwater was ideal and things are different with my group of kids. Sometimes, taking a break or going to the buddy room is simply ineffective. They need a bit more tough love. And you aren't the only one bringing out Ms. Swamp. My kiddos are getting a good taste of her at the moment.

    Hang in there. Just take it one school break at a time. This class may be a challange but next year's could be a breeze. You are a fantastic teacher and our profession would be seriosuly lacking if you left it!

  3. All I can say is, you go girl! I'm praying for you :)

  4. I think it's just something to do with this time of year - everything has been going to hell for me the past month or so too - ever since fall break, it's been awful, and it was like this last year too. I've been grumpier too, so I know it's not all the kids (although it's way easy to blame them for all of it). Don't be afraid to be The Swamp - the kids need that just as much (if not more so) than they need sweetness and light. Consistency is the key, and that's tough to do, no matter how many lists or charts you make.

    It'll be better after Christmas, which, if you get out on the same day we do (December 18) is in exactly 32 days and 19 hours (but who's counting? ME, that's who!). Don't be afraid to do stuff like that - the KIDS think we are robots, but we know we are just as human as anyone else.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I hear the cupcakes calling me... I bought those because I eat when I'm stressed.....