I am faced with one of the most daunting challenges of my career: returning from maternity leave half way through the year!!

I have been back for 6 weeks and literally hit the ground running. I feel like I was having to make up lost ground and do things that should have been done in September. The students have fought me through and through because there are some major changes that have taken place and they feel as though they have lost a lot of freedom, that they are being treated like babies and that it isn’t fair. For the most part, I feel that the majority of the students have come around and although they may not like me, they can tolerate me. There are a few whom I feel have made it their mission though to challenge me every step of the way in a hope to either be transferred from the class or to have me quit. Little do they know how stubborn I am and no matter how difficult they make my life, the more I will dig my heels in and keep pushing for my beliefs.
I asked the students to brainstorm some class reward systems that they would like to see. Some of the students wanted me to allow them to eat in class which is a hard and fast no in my room. Some wanted me to give up making them read everyday; again a hard and fast no as it is part of my teaching philosophy. Others actually focused on the task and came up with a classroom city. 
The Classroom City
Each week my students are placed randomly at one of the 6 different tables in the room in order for them to learn to work with different people in the classroom. In the classroom city, the students have decided that each table will represent a Canadian city. Each city will be responsible for a classroom job such as Sanitation, Waste Management,  Recycling, Staging Crew, Technology Committee and Office Managers. Every two weeks, the city will be paid for the jobs that they do and have tax taken off. At the end of the two weeks, the students will divide up their earnings and take these earnings to their new ” city”. They will then have the option of keeping the money and being charged a 5% Luxury Tax or adding their money to their new city’s bankbook. The students will then be able to purchase items in the classroom such as special privileges or items but the city that they are a part of will have to agree unanimously to purchase the items. If students have their own funds, then they can purchase items as individuals. The students can also be fined for certain things such as not being prepared , throwing things in class etc. These fines will have to be paid either by an individual or by the individual’s city. At the end of the two weeks, the city with the most money will get a prize. The following week, the cities will start fresh. 
I am hoping that the students will buy-in even more since they designed the idea even though they designed the last idea also. 
It is hard to come in half way through the school year especially, when you are totally different teacher than the previous one with different expectations and you are not given a chance by the students and some of their parents. I have specifically designed a technology project with certain students in mind but I just finished percolating and finalizing it in my brain and haven’t even been given the opportunity to share the idea with students before I have a parent and her child breathing down my neck. It is astonishing to me that as a fellow parent, some parents can’t remember what it is like to have a 1 year old at home and how little time you have. Teaching is not a 9am-3pm but neither is parenting. I am trying to strike a balance between the two and obviously, I am not doing a good enough job for some. Give me a chance. It has only been 6 weeks. Rome was not built in a day and neither will my classroom community. 


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