Friday, August 22, 2014

First Day of School Plans #mtbschallenge

 I want to join in the the #MTBoSchallenge even though I know I am a little behind. The first challenge was to write about your first week's plans. But for me as this blogging thing is still new to me so I will just write about my first day plans.
  In my middle school we work in teams for the core subjects. As a team we usually extend our homeroom so we can hand out paper work, assign lockers etc...  Once my bells begin as they will be shorter to account for the longer homeroom time so I will only have 40-45 minutes at most.
   I definitely will do my intro to Mrs. Olsen's world Power Point.

This slide is followed of pictures of previous students holding up whiteboards with things they think my  new students should know. They say things like show your work, ask questions, do your homework,  etc... Next I address where to hand in papers. Should papers be put on my desk? My reply is a bold:
This may be a slight exaggeration, but I stress to students that all papers go in the bell drawer!! If they do anything else and it gets lost its on them. I struggle with organization and having a bell drawer works great for me. I only take papers out of the drawer when I am checking or grading them.

  After this brief Power Point I hand out Play-doh to all students. I give them 5 minutes to make something that tells me one thing about them. During that time I walk around and talk with students. There is always one or two students that have no idea what to make, so I  help them brainstorm something. Letting them know it does not have to be any great thing, just something small. I love it because the students have fun with it and it gives me a glimpse of my students and their interests. One student last year made a horse head because they ride horses. Another student made a ball because they play soccer. This is a no pressure, just a have fun activity. I did this last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. I then walk around have students share what they made and why.
  I don't cover a lot on rule or routines the first day. I know the first day of school students are having rules thrown at them all day and they remember very little. I try to address the routines and rules over the next week. I used to get frustrated students did not remember the rules/routines that I explained the first day of school, then I got a clue.  I now realize the key to students following routines and class rules is repetition, repetition, repetition. I did this better last year and will work on it again this year. I get a little self conscious talking about rules and routines daily for the first week or two so I do not always keep it up as much as I should. (In the beginning of the year I sometimes feel like an awkward 7th grader myself).The review only lasts a few minutes at the beginning or end of bell done more like a game. I know it will pay off in the long run if I work on routines and have students practice them, in the beginning of the year. I also plan on revisiting the rules/routines at the end of each quarter. This is just as much for me as for the students. I want to make sure I am staying consistent with my students. 
   So that is my first day, and little of what I plan for the week. What are you planning for your first day? 
P.S This is my first time putting pictures in my blog. How'd I do? 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Inspired to try...

     Today I was reading a post from Andrew Stadel which led me to another post by Kate Nowak which made me think. I started blogging last year for a challenge but got frustrated with so many things I stopped. I was "going to" the middle school discussion nights on Twitter but had trouble navigating the conversations a bit, and felt like everyone knew each other and ...well I don't know anyone. Everyone was friendly, it was just me feeling inadequate. I used to love going on Twitter listening to a few conversations when I could. I checked out different blogs but last year I stopped. So here I am again wanting to try again and not knowing where to start. I want to be a better teacher. That's the truth. But I have a lot of constraints where I teach time wise. I read blogs that inspire me but wonder how can I do that? When I only have 8 days (including assessment) to teach fractions, decimals, percents and scientific notation. Changing from one form to another, comparing numbers in any and all forms. Yes I know what others would advise, I tell it to myself too: take what you can and implement it into your class. A little change here and a little change there will impact my classroom. And that's good advice. It must be as I gave it to myself. (said with a sarcastic voice).
     But there's more to the frustrated give up feeling I had last year. I work hard. Yes I know we are all teachers and work hard. Its just I am not efficient at it at all. It takes me a lot of hours and I accomplish little. So I am frustrated. If for three hours after school I feel like I accomplished something then I would feel great. But instead I feel like I searched for some great activity, found nothing, ran out of time and threw together a lesson because it had to be done. I love teaching and hate it at the same time. I hate that it takes me hours to accomplish nothing. I hate that I am always overwhelmed with school. I think if things don't change then I want to leave and do something else for a living.'s the but...when I have an 8th grade student stop by my room and tell me how much they love math this year I know I am where I am supposed to be. The student that hated math when they entered my door in 7th grade, left loving it. Yea! When I see the ''light bulb" go off in a student and they get it...really get it..I know I am where I am meant to be. So although I am not close to being ready to go back to school, I am ready to do better this year. I will read a few middle school blogs. I will try to remember middle school discussion night on Twitter. I will make myself leave school in a timely manner at least three nights a week because I need time with my family; a well rounded person makes for a better teacher.  And I will blog once a month to process what I am doing. I know no one may actually read it, and that's okay. I need to write and who knows maybe there is another over-whelmed almost ready to give-up teacher out there and they too will be inspired to keep on trying.