TUESDAY I START TEACHING – OCT 2009

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

imageEven though there has been a lot going in my personal life this week, it was also my first week back in the classroom (I won’t call it teaching yet).  Between the NECAP testing and everything else, I was lucky the assistant Teacher in my room had everything planned and did most of the teaching the whole week.  This gave me the unheard of opportunity to actually observe most of the students in action, get to know my way around the building (where the bathrooms, library, copiers and custodians are) and meet the IT staff.  All of which were very important to getting me acclimated and ready for next week.

Some of the things I observed about my future classroom were:

  1. The present seating arrangement was conducive to interruptions and distractions.
  2. The classroom does not have a flow to it, it was a bit scattered
  3. The students were showing low levels of respect for each other and the adults in the room.
  4. There was a lack of documentation of student behavior in the classroom
  5. The majority of my students are very hyper-active males.
  6. That all students have been provided Macs and that they are being under-utilized
  7. That even the student(s) that misbehave the most are redirectable, most of the time.

I do have one quick story that I found very amusing this week.  I went to gym in order to get a student who had left everything at the testing room.  While there I asked to shoot a basket.  They passed me the ball and I shot it standing just beyond the 3 point line about 10 feet from the left-hand baseline.  It actually went in…I somehow banked it off the backboard from where I was standing????  The gym teacher who is the varsity boy’s basketball coach just shook his head.  The boys all hooted and hollered and when they got back to class were still talking about it.  So I had my moment of glory…(I probably shouldn’t ever go back to the gym) I know it was an absolute luck shot and I couldn’t sink another one in 100 tries (off the backboard from where I was standing).  But is sure was fun to listen to kids talk about the old guy making that shot.

So what will I do about 1-7 next week?

1.  Change the seating so that those who like to entertain their peers are in the back of the room or at least have less of a spotlight.  Currently the setup is 3 large curved tables are in a placed in a circle and everyone can quickly see what the others are doing.  This setup plays right into the hands of the entertainers or disrupters.  Therefore, when the students come in Monday the tables will be in 3 rows facing the white board.

Now I have to decide if I want to use a lottery system for the students to choose their assigned seat or if I want my assistant teacher to assign them.  I am leaning towards having a lottery system initially and then if that seating arrangement doesn’t work, I will in consultation with my assistant teacher assign seating.

2.  Setup a classroom schedule of instruction that will look a bit like this

  • Get settled in
  • Check-in
  • Maine Lesson
  • Silent Sustained Reading
  • Oral/written Reflection on day’s Reading
  • Reflection on class individual/class behaviors

I am hoping that getting a class routine in place will help the students know what to expect instead of always wondering what’s coming next.

3 & 7.  The classroom is chaotic partly/mostly due to lack of respect the students are showing for each other and the teachers in the room.  This lack of respect is not a new problem or particular only to this generation of children…I remember being in7th grade and my class acting so horribly that we went through 3 teachers that year and being proud of being such jerks, so this lack of respect is not something that is new, as some would have us all believe it has been going on for a long time, just not discussed in the 24/7 news we have today.

Now what to do about it,

  • The first thing that I am going to do is teach a quick unit about what respect is and what my expectations are regarding respect.
  • Secondly, ensure that all the adults who come in my room and myself follow the same thing and show and model respect back to the students (as much as I can anyways).
  • Third role model respect for others beyond the classroom.
  • Fourth when someone is being disrespectful, address it as a behavior (which it usually is), provide some feedback and look for those “teachable” moments when a student doesn’t realize they are being disrespectful. I am still learning the school’s behavior code and the student’s motivations, so I will have to come back and figure out what appropriate consequences for poor choices on the student’s part will be.

It doesn’t sound very aggressive or earth shattering, but I believe that the key to this strategy will be consistency on the part of the assistant teachers and myself over the course of the school year.

The other part to this effort will be establishing positive relationships with the students and being a good male role model for some of the student’s who are lacking this.  Actually I believe that establishing the personal relationships will go a lot further than any teaching plan or anything else I do.

This is my two-pronged approach to helping my students cope in the real world where disrespecting others can have very real consequences.

4.  Another part of the equation is being able to document the student’s behavior.  I plan to use a classroom behavior rubric that I have used successfully in the past – modifying it to fit these classes.  Something that I like to do a little differently is to have the student fill one out and the teachers fill them out and then compare the two.  This can lead to some good discussion and better understanding on both of our parts on how the class went and things that we can do differently to improve the classroom.  Please notice that I said we, not just the students.

5.  Two of my classes have a large majority of males in the classroom and one is all male.  In some regards this is easier for me because they are only showing off for each other, not the girls in the class.  It also means that the guys are still attempting to establish the male hierarchy in the class.  This will sort itself out and change slightly through the year, we just have have to keep a lid on things while they are doing the sorting and keep everyone safe.

I believe that all my students will do better with a more structured and project based approach to learning English Language Arts than the old read, lecture it, write it and test it.  I want to use a more multi-modal approach.  But first have to get my feet back under me and also have to get the behaviors more in control.  But the opportunities that are present in #6 are exciting to me.

6.  1:1 Laptop — all the students have laptops, this is an opportunity to really do some cool things with blogging, Google or ZohoAnimoto and all the other tools out there that I may or may not be able to use in the classroom.  I have to find out more about the IT department and what is blocked and what is not and what administrations expectations of the use of technology are.  But I really believe that this is one place that I can open up the students to using their laptop to be more than a glorified pen and paper.  Hopefully, the geek in me will be a positive influence on others.

7.  One of the most important piece to the puzzle is getting the student’s parent to know me and understand who and what I am attempting to do.  This is also the thing I had the least experience with at my last school, there were not very many involved parents.  I will simply go back to what my expectations were of my daughter’s special education teacher’s:  introduce myself by sending out a letter with my email and phone number, call to let them know the good things – not just calling when something is wrong, being honest with them and treating them as the partners they are in the education of their kids. A positive relationship with the parents will go a long way in achieving positive things for my students.   Basically establishing and maintaining open lines of communication.
This is my initial reaction to what I need to do in my classroom on starting on Tuesday. I will not accomplish many of these goals overnight, but the quick hitters I will do right off the bat.  The others are going to be ongoing throughout the school year.

I am excited that I am back in the classroom and have the opportunity to go back to doing something that I love to do.  There are going to be days I wonder why I ever did this but you know something – I know today why I did it after being back in the classroom – because I am a teacher.

So here is to my classes first day of school with me next Tuesday as their teacher.

THANK YOU and IRISH BLESSINGS

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

This was a very difficult week for my family and myself, due to my mother’s passing.  I wanted to take this time to say thank you to all of you who extended your condolences and kindness during this time of grief for us.
Having something like this happen during your first week on a new job and attempting to teach kids has been a bit nerve wracking and I needed today to sort things out a bit, so that I will be there for the students who have been entrusted to my care.

I am very lucky to work where everyone is willing to support even its newest staff member during tough times.  Those in leadership and my colleagues were all considerate and understanding, if I was a bit off my stride at times during the week.  A small touch, but one that meant a lot to me was when yesterday afternoon one other other teachers gave me a card just before I left, which was signed by many of the teachers, even though most of them barely know my name.

It is time to move on, while I am sure that I will have times where I miss my mother a lot, it was her time to go.  She made her choices regarding her medical care and how she would live and die.  Mom did not want to go overboard when grieving for her, she wanted us to go out and live our lives, so that is what I plan to do.  I do not want to dishonor her memory by being selfish and going into a funk where I am not being of any use to others or myself.

I plan to make my first year back to teaching one that honors her memory and use her example of toughness and giving to others, to help me through the tough spots that will occur this year as a teacher.
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Taken from http://www.islandireland.com/Pages/folk/sets/bless.html

We may be more English on Mom’s side than Irish, but I have always felt a closeness to their words and attitudes than I have other cultures, so it is fitting to use their words now.  They say my thoughts with words better than I ever could.

THANK YOU

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