Monday, February 24, 2014

Advantages of Specializing

This last year and this year I have been "Platooning" with my students, sort of! I taught a blend last year and a straight third grade class this year, but have looped with my 2nd grade students. While I teach all subject areas, I am responsible for planning and preparing for math. My partner teacher does the same thing for reading.

Some days, we bring all of the students together into one large classroom, and I teach the main math lesson to groups of students while she teaches smaller groups of students in guided practice. I teach all of the students and because there are two adults we can have students switch groups immediately if that is needed.

In reading, she takes some of my students who need additional assistance, since that is her area of expertise for over 20 years. She also helps me plan out my lessons and novels. Working together we are much better teachers than we would be on our own.

Last year I sent students to different teachers for both math and reading, depending on the grade level and skill of each student. Some times it felt like I didn't have much time with my second grade students (the ones who did the most moving.) If I only worked with them that one year, the connections and relatinoships wouldn't be as deep as they normally are in elementary school.

But, I have looped with my younger students. While they might not be with me for the whole day, I have gotten to know these children well over the course of 2 years. By specializing and looping I am developing a strong relationship with each child and their families, as well as giving them a strong academic situation. I think this is a win/win situation! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Renewing Ourselves

  • What do you listen to on your way to school?
  • Do you listen to the radio, the news or a book on CD? 
  • How do you get ready for the day?

I now have a "driving" playlist. I have about a 20 minute commute to school on a good day. (Let's not mention the other days, when it can get up to 40 minutes. . .)

Before the playlist, I was listening to NPR or some other news station. While slightly educational, it wasn't exactly uplifting. On top of that, the information was pretty similar to the newspaper headlines. I didn't find myself feeling excited to face the day after listening to the news.

So now I have a driving playlist. The music in that playlist is inspirational to me. The songs that work for me probably wouldn't work for you . . . but the idea might.

As I listen and sing along, I feel calm. I am ready to face the challenge of the day head on. I remember that my job is planting seeds that I may or may not see bloom this year. I remind myself that each day is about connecting to each child in my classroom.

I feel renewed and ready to coach, lead and change lives.

Curious about what I have on my playlist? Here are some of the songs. They range from gospel to Indie.
  • Power of Two - Indigo Girls
  • Gardener - Rebecca Riots
  • Sing to the Angles - Rebecca Riots
  • He Watches Out For You and Me - Dixie Hummingbirds
  • So Glad I'm Here - Sweet Honey in the Rock
  • Tu Guardian - Juanes
  • How Can I Keep From Singing - Ike Ndolo
  • Make Me an Instrument of your Peace - Lori True

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Time to reassess and organize

Happy New Year! Welcome back to the classroom. Now is a great time to rethink your classroom organization. I read an inspiring article at Edutopia about how to involve students in organizing your classroom. Here is a link to the article.

This year I've started labeling more things in the classroom so students are able to put things away with ease.

One fun game we play is the missing object game. After lunch, I will have a tub filled with random objects from the the classroom, like a stapler, some books from different parts of the library etc. Then, I pull name sticks and students try to find the correct location. If they need help, they can ask for help. They can get a hint or a "hotter/colder" hint.

How well is your organization working right now? Here are some questions to help you reassess.

Copy and paste these sentences and take some time to write your answers. It would be wonderful if you wanted to share some of your answers in the comments section. This would help out other teachers!

  1. I (or my students) can never find my (their) __________. 
  2. I (or my students) have no place to put________. 
  3. There's no room for __________. 
  4. I (or my students) are tired of ___________.
  5. I (or my students) can't _________ because of the clutter.
  6. I (or my students) am losing time or money because of ____________. 
  7. The disorganization makes me (or my students) feel ____________.
  8. What is and is not working for you in your classroom organization? 
  9. Which items are most essential for you for teaching, grading and planning?
  10. Why do you want to get organized?