Sometimes a change in environment makes such a big difference. If things aren’t going well, if you’re not happy, if a class is misbehaving—change the surroundings. I don’t mean run away, I mean run to something different.

Of course some days I feel like running away. When a class doesn’t behave well. When nothing goes according to plan. When I have to do something I didn’t expect to do. But, running away doesn’t solve anything. And when I feel like escaping, I remember something a college instructor told me years ago.

"Don’t run away, run to…"

Lately, some of my sixth graders have been terrible. Since they can’t understand most of what I say, they don’t pay attention, act up, and/or act rudely. I don’t blame them. I probably would too if I didn’t understand what my teacher was saying.

A co-teacher and I discussed several classroom management options, but none of them have seemed to work. It’s too late in the semester to make any sort of significant changes in teaching techniques anyway. What’s done is done.

One problem is I’m too nice; however, even if I tried to discipline my students they wouldn’t take me seriously. My co-teacher has to do most of the punishment, which creates a sort of divide between us. The students see her as the mean teacher, and they see me as the fun one that lets them get away with about anything. Not good.

None of the other grades behave quite as badly as the sixth graders, so I’ve narrowed down some possible causes. Apart from aforementioned reasons, I think a big problem is the surroundings.

Our English classroom is beautiful, but doesn’t necessarily provide the best learning environment. It’s huge. There’s plenty of room to run and play, which means about every activity gets out of control. And students sit in groups at tables instead of individual desks, which only encourages them to socialize instead of listen.

We decided to try having classes in homerooms this week. Sure enough after we swapped spaces, students paid more attention. After processing the switch, I realize this goes for about anything in life. Although this post directly relates to some of my classes, we all need to change our surroundings from time to time. It doesn’t mean you have to run away. Just run to something new.