Today I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with another teacher discussing the best way to present information to a large group of teachers. I think we came up with a good plan, but I do have a maxim in which I steadfastly believe and observe its truth each year: teachers are the worst students.
Teachers are accustomed to having control, doing things their way, leading the meeting, deciding what is and what is not important, and when they are on the receiving end of a learning session it becomes readily apparent they often wish to be the providers of the learning. Nevertheless, we came up with a plan that I think will work while maintaining engagement.
I also texted and e-mailed back and forth with a couple new teachers about curriculum mapping and lesson designs for the beginning of the school year. This lasted–off and on–about 90 minutes this afternoon.
Tomorrow, I will be going to my classroom to begin setting up my room, and then I’m going to design a presentation before planning my wall decorations and resources. I’m a bit of a planner and I’m frequently teased about my linear organization methods, so I’m sure there will be a few grins and giggles if anyone else is working at the school while I’m planning.
But, first and foremost, I have to hook up my mini-stereo. I have to have my tunes while I work.
Today was a great day, but with only 20 minute periods I had to split my first set of activities in two. We have a half-day of Freshmen activities in the morning and the rest of the school attends the afternoon. Not much gets done, but I put some faces to names.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
The first day of school is almost upon us. We begin Wednesday, and I’m going to use a first day activity I’ve used before. Here it is:
On the first day we have lots of comings and goings because of schedule changes, so I start with an easy activity and a game. I have the students take the first ten minutes to write down any questions they have about me or the class on 2″ by 2″ pieces of paper. They can ask anything they want and do not put their names on the slips of paper. I don’t have to answer a question, but it’s rare to get an inappropriate question. The kids drop their slips of paper into my Mariners cap and away we go.
I answer every appropriate question, even if it’s a silly one because this is how we get to know one another. I always hated the list of rules (I don’t have any rules in my classroom–never needed them) and the reading of the syllabus on the first day, and this allows me to answer their questions, making their interests the focus from day one. It’s their class after all.
This takes about 30 minutes, and then I give them some word puzzles to complete in groups for the ever-requested extra credit. It’s only five points, but they think it’s a billion and will do anything for the points. This ends the period.
P.S. I was working in my classroom today, and one of my students from last year informed me that she’s with me again this year. She then asked if they get to ask me questions again this year. I said “yes” and she giggled and said she’s been thinking about some questions she thought of this summer. She’s an innocent so I don’t fear her questions but had that one kid (that we’ve all had) said the same thing, I’d be quaking in my boots.
I have decided to return to the school today to clean everything in the classroom and to rearrange the classroom. I like giving everyone (and everything) a fresh start once in a while. I’ll get a workout moving the books and furniture, and the kids will have a little surprise when they walk in for the first day of the new year.
Today was the first day of school, and we had a distinctly shorter day than we normally do because of a new effort. The school was for Freshmen only in the morning to attend 20 minute classes, and the second half of the day was for upperclassmen to attend 20 minute classes while the Frosh had some separate activities. My school has put an emphasis on the 9th grade transition in school, so this fits that effort.
Thus, my activities were curtailed quite a bit, so I split my opening day activity into two days. While I still used my question and answer activity from last year, we will have to do the answer session tomorrow. The seniors generated about 40 questions as a class, the juniors submitted about 60 questions per class, and the sophomores asked over 100 questions. Whew! I will have to spend quite a bit of time answering questions, but it will be worth it. I really like letting them tell me what they want to know instead of reading a syllabus to them.
This year I’m teaching a Sophomore Honors English class (using World Literature), two Mythology courses for seniors, and two College in the High School courses (using American Lit.) for juniors. No new preps means I will really be able to focus on being as creative and energetic in class as I can be. Refinement is my key word this year.
My goal this year: to have at least three distinct sections to every lesson in order to keep the classes lively.