Stuck in a Rut

School has been under way for about a month now and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.  I’m mostly feeling like a failure lately.  I can’t seem to get my groove back after the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year that was last year.  Perhaps I was naive to think that I could just hop right back into sixth grade and everything would be as wonderful as it was when I left it. 

I have quite a different group of kids this year than I’ve ever had before and I just don’t know how to reach them.  These kids are living a life more difficult than any life I’ve ever known.  They’re struggling with extreme cases of abuse and neglect in some cases, all on top of figuring out how to adjust to being a teenager in a middle school.  My internal dilemma is that I’m being too much of a “hard-ass” (I apologize, but nothing really fit as well as that term!), but I can’t figure out now how to show them that I love them AND keep the discipline in my classroom. 

Maybe it’s the dynamic of having five groups of kids for an hour at a time throughout the day.  Maybe last year really changed my attitude about teaching.  Maybe it’s all that and a bunch of other factors I haven’t even begun to think about yet.  I know I’ve been successful at establishing a loving, yet disciplined sixth grade classroom before, but it seems like decades ago instead of just two years.

This Calvin and Hobbes strip shows my usual reaction/feelings when my kids give me excuses for why they’re not meeting my expectations.

In my gut, I don’t feel like that reaction is going to help my students at all.  I have plenty of compassion for these kids and I do love them all, but what has been a struggle is showing them in a way that doesn’t give them the message that I’m okay with them being lazy and/or walking all over me.  I’ve always considered classroom management to be one of my strengths, but now I’ve lost my confidence. I’ve looked into a book called Teaching with Love and Logic and maybe that will give some me some insight to techniques I could use.  I saw it at the bookstore tonight, but I opted for two other books, both by Rafe Esquith, that spoke a little louder to me.


Has anyone read any of these books?  If so, I’d love to hear what you thought and got out of the reading.  If there’s anything else you could recommend that might help me out of this unhappy state of limbo I’ve found myself in lately, I’d be so grateful!  Thanks for reading my rant. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Stuck in a Rut

  1. I taught in the Middle School setting for 15 years. Were there days when I felt like you?…absolutely! I think it is just fine to have high expectations of your students. They need to know that you believe in them.You need to be their cheerleader….. You are probably the only one they've got!
    I loved the book Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire! That book just might restore your passion for what you love to do!
    Keep us posted and good luck!

  2. Keep your chin up. When I had a year like that, I was in my principles office crying by Canadian thanksgiving (early October). I told her I wouldn't make it the whole year. She said I had to, the kids needed me. We had a wonderful year together, despite the many challenges. You can do it!

  3. I am feeling the same way this year. Completely off my game and I feel like I'm a newbie and this is my 9th year. Uugghh, maybe we should start a support group!

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