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Ms. L's Boys Club

“Ms. L’s Boys Club” was the name I coined for my class during my third year teaching at P.S.182Q. It was a self-contained kindergarten/first grade bridge class. I was a little nervous to teach two curriculums--but I knew I probably needed to differentiate no matter what. I wound up strengthening the first graders with a repeat of their last year’s curriculum and, conversely, pushing the kindergarteners forward. 
Names on chairs helped reduce student arguments over whose chair was whose.
In my class, there were four boys that I had the previous year in kindergarten. These four boys made my class feel at home. Also, I got two new first graders from general education and four kindergarteners, one of whom was accompanied by paraprofessional and another who was repeating the grade, having been taken out of a bilingual general education program. In total, my class had ten boys. One of my co-workers nicknamed me "Snow White" as I would march with them through the building to keep them in line and engaged. They were my little boys. Hand in hand, I walked with them in the hallways while other teachers would comment, “You have alllllllllll boys?” I found having no girls in the class strange and interesting and I wondered what would change if the gender balance was different.  
Though I do not have children yet myself, I know how boys act from having a little brother. So I was familiar with how boys act around other boys. I understood that even though they were small, I had to be kind and loving as well as a stern disciplinarian. Some of my students did not necessarily have the love and affection at home, nor did they have great exposure to social and emotional learning. It was my duty to shape and mold them into "young gentlemen." In fact, I would always greet them during circle time with “Good Morning Gentlemen” and hear the responding chorus of “Good Morning Ms. L!”

The tricky part of having all boys--especially those you've had for two years--is that they become comfortable with you as their teacher. In my case, too comfortable. Farting, name-calling, and rough-play was all day every day. I felt like I needed to address every incident as if it were the most important learning point of the day. In fact, one of my students in particular, Ethan (name changed), who is the basis of my inquiry, became jealous and aggressive because he wanted my undivided attention. My guess is that I provided some care and the structure that he needed. The first year he was with me, his need for constant attention became a problem. The second year, he was a ticking time bomb. If I didn’t do anything to diffuse his behavior, I would not be able to teach. Also, any time I would help another child, it would trigger those undesirable behaviors from him. Working with Stacey and TCICP, I got the tools that I needed to diffuse that bomb as much as I possibly could. 

Below, you can see the meeting area of my classroom. We have visuals for months of the year, daily/weekly weather, and a pocket chart for students to come up and put the flow of the day. This chart helped students with transitions. Each board is color-coded to support student learning. Math bins and board are red, reading and writing are blue, science was yellow, and social studies is green.