Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Fresh Start

Well, it is Thursday of Week 2 of Christmas Break, which means it's almost over! I have enjoyed every minute of sleeping in and not thinking about what I had to do for school the next day. I feel like I've had time to recooperate, regroup, and rethink some things that I would like to change.

When the year started, since I was starting at a new school, I was not familiar with school-wide procedures and therefore had a really hard time teaching them to my kids. My expectations for their line, hallway, lunch, and recess procedures were unclear because I didn't know them! Now that I am aware of all of them and how they work, we are going to spend a lot of time modeling and practicing on Monday and throughout the week (and the coming weeks, if we need!). For first year teachers, this is such a struggle because we are expected to teach procedures explicitly, but we don't even know what they are! Even if they are explained, it is hard to know exactly how to teach them before you've seen them.

Also, as a first year teacher, I was not quite sure at the beginning of the year how things would run inside the classroom. For example, morning routines that include breakfast, handing in homework, gathering pencils, etc, were a struggle for me to really figure out and decide on what routine would be best. Because I struggled with it, my kids also struggled with it. Very frustrating! I have now seen what works and what doesn't, so I will be going over specific steps for students to take to accomplish things within the classroom, and having them model the correct way. This is something else you just can't figure out until you've been in your classroom for awhile.

The last change I am going to make is to rearrange my schedule within the classroom. I haven't made the best use of my time in the classroom simply because I made my schedule at the beginning and haven't had a minute to examine it and make any major changes. After teaching for a semester, I can see where I can rearrange activities like read aloud and silent reading to make it fit better in the schedule and make better use of our time. Again, how could I understand this until I've seen it in the classroom?

I'm glad I've had this chance to seriously reflect upon the last semester and hopefully use what I've observed to make this next semester much smoother. I have struggled and struggled with classroom management, much due to my inexperience and also due to the unique issues my kids are bringing in. It is nice to see other teachers recognizing that I have an especially difficult group of students, but does not change the fact that they all still have to learn and succeed, no matter what issues they have! My fervent hope is that if I can be more explicit about what I expect for procedures, behaviors, and routines, they will have a much easier time following those procedures and therefore making the classroom day much smoother and less frustrating for them and for me. It's amazing to see that the year is half over, but also overwhelming to think about how many days I still have to plan for before the whole year is over!

And now, it's time to begin the task of lesson-planning for next week. I am especially nervous about our upcoming math unit, which is division! With students who are still struggling with multiplication, I am not feeling confident about my abilities to make them successful with division! I am going to start with lots of concrete models and hope that we can move on from there. We'll see!

Ready or not, here comes the next semester!

From the very hopeful,
Miss Davis

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