Well, in my second week, I gave a couple of small tests. Nothing big, and no students got below a B-. That was intentional (and lucky, since I would have given lower grades if anyone deserved one). Early on, I resort to basic behavioral conditioning. Most of my students did their homework and paid attention in class, and I want them to correlate that with success. So I give them some. It's a crude tool, but I find it effective. The first full-sized test (in the class that hasn't taken one any yet) is Monday, and we'll see how that goes.
Of course it was inevitable that some of my more annoying students would start to show themselves. As usual, they will be mostly boys (although I've had some doozies of annoying girls, too). One asked if we could have class outside because it was such a nice day. As if we could adequately review for a test without a chalkboard (and let's hear it for chalkboards over whiteboards!! woo-hoo old-school!). My answer was "no", of course, but I continued with a much more detailed answer, too. I'm of the opinion that teachers should teach transparently. I regularly let my students in on my strategy and my motivations. When they do really distracting stuff, for instance, I tell them that I want them to stop not because I merely said so, but because I have to concentrate pretty hard to be able to teach them, and I don't want my teaching to suffer. So anyway, I answered this kid with something like this:
No, we can't have class outside. But in addition, I want to point out something about your question. I know you didn't mean to be adversarial, and I'm not mad at you, but questions like that just reenforce the classic picture of lazy-students-wanting-to-get-away-with-anything-they-can versus mean-old-teacher-whose-job-it-is-to-make-students'-lives-miserable. I do claim the ultimate authority in this class, but I'd much rather that we learn by playing on the same team instead of opposite teams. So I'd rather you didn't ask questions like that.
For the more immature (like this kid), that kind of talk is a little hard to digest. But the more mature kids truly appreciate being spoken to frankly, and I have rarely regretted being open like that. I might feel differently in a school that didn't have such great kids, but it works for me.
And yes, I am going to try to blog every week about my teaching this year. With the adoption coming up (January or February? I think? I hope? I mean, I really hope it happens 3 months ago, but at this point I hope it's coming soon so my life isn't so up in the air, and so I can get on with the important business of being a dad, for goodness sake!), it could be a very interesting year. So...tell your teaching friends to keep up with my soap opera of a teaching life (ha!). Maybe something really fascinating will happen.