[This week's guest blogger is Dan Meyer, a 21-yo student teacher from Sacramento whose crackpot consumer-driven theories on classroom management will eventually get him dragged in front of the dean.]
When you're going to take over a classroom from a teacher, to split the kids from their mother, it really helps the transition if they aren't altogether attached to him. Often times, it's a crap shoot. My short-term teacher laughs at his own jokes and tries to talk "jive" with his kids. I can't imagine them tying a yellow ribbon at his departure. [wrong there, brah -ed] I suspect they'll be pretty ambivalent about me too (for reasons that are obviously out of my control; it's first period and they're sluggish [and 'cause you suck, don't forget that one -ed]) but at least they're not in love with this guy. Don't set yourself up to follow a hard act.
My long-term assignment is a hard act. She nails the balance between mother and teacher and some of the kids would happily distract a bull elephant for her. This is hardly an ideal situation for me, but thankfully it's not beyond repair.
The only solution is to be really cool. That's the currency in high school, after all. Every one of their actions is taken in the direction of mimicking those who are cool. The social rites of these kids aren't all that enigmatic; just be someone they'd buy clothes from and you'll be able to sell them math, history, and home economics.
Spreading lies about your master teacher, general slander, posting all over campus the photo you took of his Christmas-party binge drinking when you said there wasn't any film in the camera, those are all viable alternatives, but they should probably be avoided. They're evil, and kids can smell evil as quickly as they can fear.
Short of being cool, at the very least make sure you're less uncool than your master teacher. Keep your head down and your mouth shut. Crack a stupid joke inside of the first week and you may as well trade your chalk in for a hairnet and start life anew shoveling Beetloaf onto plastic trays. Don't talk. Don't smile. Mystery will accumulate about yourself like debt on a Visa card. These tricks are obvious, but no one (least of all me) will say that they're easy.