The Life of Bon: Classroom personalities

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Classroom personalities

We're two weeks and one day into the new school year and a certain degree of routine and comfort is starting to emerge.  Every morning I look in the mirror and say "You are a strong confident woman and these hoodlums will not get the best of you."



It continues to be a bit tough to adjust to the new school, but it is getting better every day.  Each class is starting to develop its personality.  It's the weirdest thing about teaching that is sometimes hard to describe to non teachers.  Not only do students have their own attitudes, quirks, and habits but individual classes too.  That's why when I think back to my fourth period senior class last year I almost start to cry because the class somehow developed this attitude of total love and cooperation and respect and, gosh, was it hard to say goodbye.  I wonder if I'll ever attach myself to students in the same way that I attached myself to my Copper Hills Students.  It's possible, right?

Personalities so far:

2nd period/ Seniors:  My "I don't give an eff" class.  They're not disruptive or disrespectful, they just act bored with everything.  We're going to read a new book?  Whatever.  You don't have our papers graded yet?  Whatever.  You are going to do a back flip on a live tiger right in the middle of the classroom?  Whatever.  I've had a hard time getting them excited about the book and project so far but they sit quietly and do their work, so it's hard to feel justified in complaining much.

3rd period/ Seniors:  My "cool" class.  You can kind of tell that these kids are the cool kids in the school.  They are social butterflies and it takes about five minutes to get them to get working at the beginning of class because they're all just yapping away.  I like that they like each other and they seem to like me and the class, but sheesh!  Just shut up already!  They are also cell phone addicts, which I suppose goes along with their social obsession- today I took away three cell phones.  They just can't put them away.

4th period/ Seniors:  My "what's going on?" class.  I don't know if they are really that clueless or if they just act that way for attention.  I feel like at least a dozen times a class period I have someone shouting out to the whole class, "What's going on?"  "What'd she say?" "What page are we on?" "What's the date?"  They are more disrespectful class than any of my classes last year and definitely the most disrespectful senior class I've ever had.  They just don't stop talking-  when someone else is talking, when I'm talking, when I'm giving a quiz.  I lost it a bit with them today.  I had had enough so I raised my voice enough to let them know I meant business, said a few choice words, and then laid down the law.  They shut up and worked the rest of the period.  Let's see if it carries over to next class period.

5th period/ Juniors:  My heaven sent class.  Ah, my juniors!  My one shining, beaming class of juniors.  They are they joy of my teaching schedule.  Juniors are the perfect age- they know the high school drill but they're not rushing out the door yet.  I feel like by junior year they are settled into their high school awkwardness and just accept it for what it is.  Plus I get to teach Gatsby to juniors and that's enough to keep me teaching them for years.  This particular group of juniors is just like all the other junior classes that I have- smart, funny, mellow, anxious to please.  Give me a class of juniors and I'll teach them til my throat is sore and my feet are throbbing and I'll still beg you for more.

7th period/ AP Literature  My silent smarties.  I'm scrambling a bit to figure out the AP curriculum, but I'm really enjoying my nine senior geniuses in the meantime.  There are so few of us that we sit in a circle and talk about the book and go over past AP tests and muddle through tough essay prompts.  I stress about the class and how it's going to go every day but that doesn't mean that I'm not totally falling in love with these guys.  They are all quiet and shy about their brilliance and it's sort of endearing.  I know they know the answer but they never answer until I call on them by name and then they'll just nail the right answer.  Smart cookies.

8th period/ Seniors:  My fun class.  Last period of the day classes can be a disaster because everyone's hyper and riled up and gosh why won't kids shut up at 1:30 in the afternoon?  Next time you look at a clock and it's 1:30 think of me and know that somewhere I am battling a group of rowdy teenagers.  Still, despite their rowdiness, these kids know when to shut up, when to pay attention and when to hop in on the discussion.  I can already feel us starting to create classroom magic.  Yesterday I was reenacting a scene from Lord of the Flies where Jack is about to kill a pig and I looked around the room real quick and noticed that all kids were totally engaged, watching and listening with interest.  Classroom magic, my friends.



  1. Classes have SUCH distinct personalities. It's a little different in elementary schools cause I have them for the whole school year, but honestly, I liked my class last year so much better. They each have their own skills and personalities. Amen sista!

  2. This happens even in college classes. I love when certain sections surprise me though, like when the indifferent class turns out to be the most thoughtful in their papers.

  3. what an interesting array of groups that you have! I hope that you continue to get more and more used to having new kids! you sound like an excellent and fun teacher and I am sorry that I did not have you in high school. I seriously could have used you. Also, how in the wold do you find time to blog during the school year? I am a student and I don't really have a ton of time to blog so I don't see how you would have time to blog between grading and planning.

  4. Just think about how exciting it is to have a job that changes every day! You never know what you are going to get :) As a mother with 2 children in college, thank the Lord for the excellent teachers they had growing up. You never forget them.

  5. I totally get this. I loved teaching Juniors for the same reasons. However, I once had a Junior class from hell: combine your "I don't give an eff" class with your "what's going on?" class, and throw it at the end of the day in that dreaded last period, throw in the fact that I had only FOUR females in the class, and you can picture that group dynamic! Yikes. We muddled through and I only threatened to push a kid out the window once and they enjoyed the drinking and drama of Gatsby possibly more than any other group.

    I also once had a disrespectful group that I just couldn't get to shut up. It was my first year of teaching, so I didn't have very many tricks up my sleeve, so I once just sat down, very calmly, waited until they shut up and then said [while choking back tears], " I hope you have a job someday where people respect you, because if you have to come to work every day and be disrespected, trust me, it is very, VERY, tiring. " And then I had to move on or I would have burst into tears and run out of the room. BUT… that seemed to cure them somehow. I think they were like, "Oh crap! We're HER JOB? She's TRYING? Let's get our crap together people!"

    And I've also had a couple of those pure magic groups, where the angel choirs sing, you become family, they buy you your favorite kinds of candy, and the thought of May makes you want to cry.

    I think it takes until November to really push through with the hard ones. You're doing awesome!

  6. I loved reading this. So interesting to hear (from a teachers perspective) what the different high school class dynamics were like. It's interesting too that you like your Juniors so much because I feel like that was definitely my favorite English class in high school too (and my favorite teacher!) So I think you're right on Junior year being the perfect year. Will you have any of your Junior classes watch the new Gatsby movie do you think? I just ask because we watched the old one in mine and now with the new one coming out, what a perfect excuse to get a dose of Leo Dicaprio in your life, haha right?

  7. Oh this makes me miss teaching high school!!! I remember like it was yesterday acting out Lord of the Flies for a project (in 11th grade, I believe!)! It was such a blast!! :)

  8. It's weird to me that you only have 9 students in your AP class. At my high school both the AP classes (lit and lang & comp) we had full classes of 40 students each. AP was definitely my favorite English course - except for the summer assignment of doing a project on Crime and Punishment. Ha.

  9. yay for junior! yay for 8th period!

  10. Anonymous11:50 AM

    My kids at the pool do this too. It's pretty awesome to see. Kids you know from lesson groups past being tossed in with other kids brings out whole other sides of their personality. I've also had the opportunity to have taught some of my kiddos for the last 5 years and it's really fun to see them in the different classes.

    I remember one session I taught 3 preschool classes in a row and while they were all supposed to be about the same level of swimmers, man it wasn't the case. Each one got a little worse and I couldn't wait for that last half hour to be over. Then I switched gears to a group that was sassy 8-10 year olds and a whole other type of fun.

    I haven't met this new group. I will on Saturday, but I have hopes that my preschoolers will be fun and the older kids won't kick my butt too much!

  11. You are so right about junior classes! I also feel that way about teaching junior high, but maybe that's because I'm still bigger than most of them and don't get intimidated :)

  12. Anonymous2:59 PM

    So know what you mean. I taught K and 1 and I still had those groups and those days where I wanted to crawl under my desk and cry because of the group of kids. Doesn't matter how old or young!

  13. Oh man, this takes me back to my own high school English days! I never had an English teacher who would have acted out pig-killing scenes... I would have loved to learn from you!

  14. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Yep, sounds about right! My classes are taking their personalities, too. I have a delinquent class, a bored-looking class, a fun class I can joke around with... Don't you just love the good ones? I definitely have more "good" classes than bad this year so I'm pretty happy!

  15. My english teacher actually explained this concept to me and I could almost go through each of my high school classes and tell which was which. I love this post!

  16. Anonymous9:57 AM

    No matter what level you teach, they do all develop separate personalities! I had the fortune (misfortune?) of teaching math to college juniors the last couple years and my three hours were VERY different. I do get misty thinking about my third hour a.k.a. my baby geniuses. Those kids were beyond smart, but they were energetic and engaged and made teaching an absolute pleasure.

  17. Hey, this totally inspired my post today, so I went ahead and gave you a shout-out on my blog :)

  18. I'm not a teacher but I totally get what you mean about each class having its own personality. I think that students can feel it too. When I was in high school (I'm sophomore in college now) I could feel the personality that a class had, like you might now that math (my least favorite subject) was the fun class because of who was in and the way the teacher handled the class.