One of the unforeseen obstacles was setting up a positive, productive and orderly classroom climate. I see these students 4 days a month (sometimes 2 times a month if they are absent, we have early release, snow days, school events, holidays, testing, etc...) and I DO expect them to follow my classroom rules. They do. Of course, a few students need redirection - what's new?
At first, I thought I would have classroom jobs. Great idea right? Yup, in theory. In practice it didn't work. How would I set up a job board that had to change daily? My solution was clothes pins - GREAT IDEA! The problem I ran into was the kids forgot so I constantly had to remind them what their "job" was and what the responsibility entailed. I solved it by having 1 person per table being the Table Captain and they were responsible for everything at that table for the day - passing out papers, gathering iPads, cleaning the table, sharpening pencils, getting supplies, etc... It worked pretty well!!
Now, our district is pretty big which means that multiple elementary schools come to my classroom per day. So, I'm not just teaching a group of kids who have daily expectations and routines from 3 teachers, I'm dealing with kids who have 6 different teachers and two different school norms -
that was annoying!! I did a lot of modeling and discussing expectations the first part of the day. I had to adjust my management style. Some of my "rigid expectations" had to be relaxed. I've always had 2 canisters - one for sharpened pencils and one for unsharpened pencils. Well...sometime in October, I put 1 container away and we have just have 1 pencil container. My world didn't collapse, I survived!
Next year, I know that I need to tighten the reigns for my group expectations. We work in groups DAILY. I've never had an issue with my groups. This year, we spent time making group expectations - but next year I might have to make the expectations and spend more time practicing them so they have a "clear" expectation of what I want to see.
How do you take kids from different schools, who don't know each other and make them a classroom? Well...I did a lot of team building activities. I also had to make sure students from different schools were in groups/partnerships together. I think I did a pretty good job! Two of my students won Student of the Year at their respective schools. They told me this week that they sat next to each other at the banquet.
My program focuses on project based learning. I started a project in January that isn't finished. We simply ran out of time to complete it. Testing season hit, STAAR Boot Camps, tutoring groups, small grouping. It was crazy day to day. Next year, I want to try to incorporate mini-projects.
Some of the amazing things that happened this year.
- My team is awesome. It's not always perfect, but we respect each other and work well together with a common vision or goal for our program.
- I took control of my Professional Development and that is very empowering! In the past, I only went to classes that I was told to go to. This year, I found classes I wanted to go to and I went. I even used my personal days to go! Some things are just that important.
- I passed the test & got my GT Certification!
This Little Piggy thinks growth requires reflection.