My Wednesdays used to be predictable: the first class would be bright and involved, the second class would be quiet and withdrawn. Now everything has changed, and the junior high class is relatively talkative, while the other class is getting quieter. There is one exception, and that’s Daniel. He’s 13 and the epitome of teenaged mood swings. He’s always lazy, but some days he’s talking, other days he’s sulking; however, he has such a strong and vocal personality that it always affects the class, especially now that there are fewer high level students in general and fewer girls in particular.
And I think that’s my point: the make-up of the class is vital. I can’t imagine teaching a class of all boys (oh, wait), especially if they were teenagers or upper elementary school age. Girls really help balance a class, but a class of all girls could easily go far too mellow. A good mix is not only good for the students in terms of variety of social interactions and development, but it’s necessary for the teacher. I know I can always call on Winston or Veronica in my early Wednesday class if some people don’t understand my explanation or the book’s examples, just like I know not to expect wonders from Jerry in the same class. If all the information comes from the teacher, it’s very easy to lecture dully. If you have quick students (boys or girls), you can use them to deliver examples and understand problem areas for everyone else.
This is probably Teaching 101, huh, Katie?!