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The Race to the Basement

May 19, 2011

Teacher Musings:

I’m really starting to wonder about alternative ways to set up my classroom.  This year I totally fell into the trap of maintaining order in my class (or attempting to) through discipline and punishment.  This doesn’t really work for me – it never has.  When I assign detention it might shut the problem student down, but it has rarely resulted in a long-term behavior change.  I usually rely on my classroom systems and structures to maintain order, and my relationship with my students to help build a culture of mutual respect in the class.  This year, however, I am teaching two writing courses in another classroom – three floors down (in the basement) with a two minute passing period.  I didn’t think that being in a different room would throw me off, but it takes me a while to set-up and I can’t set up the seats the way I would like without taking even more time.  It seems like a little thing, and I’m frankly embarrassed to even mention it, but this has really affected my ability to manage my classroom.  I have problems in this class that I don’t have him my other classes – I have a more difficult time having class discussions, I have a difficult time putting up visual aids and I often arrived to class so flustered and needing to set up I miss out on that crucial part of the period – where I greet students at the door.  As I reflect on this course this year, and the type of management problems I’m having with it (students talking over me, students talking over each other, one particular student directly talking back to me, etc.) I think about how much of these problems are rooted in my own discomfort and break in my own routine (since I’m not in “my” room).

I’m going to try harder to fix my attitude about these challenges in these last few weeks.  And while I’m at it I’m going run a little faster down those stairs so that I can greet my students at the door!  Besides, I need the exercise!

Yummy Stuff:

Last night we enjoyed a dinner of 3-Bean Loaf and Creamy Mushroom Gravy from Vegan on the Cheap.  Both were delicious, and we followed up tonight with a side of biscuits and gravy.  Yum yum!  This 3-Bean Loaf came out much firmer and tastier than other veggie “meatloafs” we have made.  I think it worked out this good because of the added vital wheat gluten, which helps to bind all the beans, oats, veggies, etc.  As we have started to make more and more of our own “veggie meats” I have come to appreciate the way that vital wheat gluten adds that chewy texture to our cutlets, loafs and sausages.  And really, when I think about meat, what I liked was the texture and spice.  With all the great recipies (and prepared foods) out there, I can have all that texture and spice I crave – without eating any actual animal.  It’s a win-win!

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