Phew what a week. It was the last week before finals. Highlights included getting cussed out by a student in a "joking" manner who then subsequently skipped another of the classes she had with me. Being treated to tales of my extremely stressed out students who said they went to their rooms the previous night and started laughing and crying simultaneously without being able to stop. Watching a hugfest take place in my room comprised of various students who were trying to pacify each other. Oh my.
I guess part of it is that my freshman are the oldest kids in this school. We're "growing" a full high school and will have 12th graders at the start of the 2012 school year. At the start of one class, after I'd heard the laughing/crying story, I had a spontaneous idea. I had colored paper in my room, so I had them each take a sheet; I took one, too. I then told them that we all were going to get our stress out on the paper for 5 minutes, and I wouldn't collect their papers. It was for their eyes only, and they could write whatever they wanted to. I told them that at the end they could crumple it up or tear it to bits or take it home and burn it or whatever. I set the timer, and we all wrote away. At the end, we "put our stress away" and moved on with our review. It seemed to calm them down (temporarily?), and we were able to get some work done.
On a positive note, my cussing student was suspended for the remainder of the week, and the class she was in (my most challenging class personality-wise) went better on Friday. On another positive note, all this work stress and other related stress has brought a few of us together, and I've actually talked more with other teachers than I have in the previous two 6 weeks. Here's to finally feeling like I belong to this new school.