As a new teacher, the most challenging thing was setting up for the beginning of the school year. How should the furniture be arranged? Was it important to have beautiful bulletin boards? And, most intimidating of all, what kind of routines needed to be established from Day 1? Ok, there were many other challenges, but starting the year off on the right foot is very important. This year, I was asked to share my thoughts on those questions in the form of an Open House for teachers. Here are the highlights of that presentation.
|My "deconstructed" classroom|
First off, the physical space. This year, I am turning over the disposition of furniture to my students. Before school ended in June, they worked on a project detailing their ideal classroom, and in September they will have an opportunity to put their ideas into action. Therefore, my classroom is in a deconstructed state at the moment in order to give ownership of the physical space to my students from Day 1. In addition to that, I am exploring options for flexible seating. At the moment, we have some interlocking foam mats, a couple of exercise balls, a bench and a stationary bicycle, along with standard desks and chairs. My students have big plans for more options though!
My self serve stations have all the things a student might need - paper, pencils, pens, rules, scissors, glue... For those of you wondering if this takes the onus off students to bring their supplies to class, I give you this poem that has been making the rounds :
I always start the year by establishing certain routines that help things run smoothly. Over the years, these have evolved, but the driving force behind them remains the same : responsibility and autonomy. I am taking a proactive approach to incomplete work with my students this year. Rather than having them submit a page on the day something is due, these pages are meant to be used as a "heads up" from students that they may not have their work in on time. My hope is that this will help them to plan ahead, and to take responsibility for communicating with me prior to the due date. I have always encouraged students to do this, but I'd like to take a more formal approach this year.
I have a hanging file at the back of my room where work is placed for students who are absent. It is their responsibility to check that file when they return. One of my classroom jobs is the Secretary, who is in charge of collecting any handouts and placing them in the folder with students' names on them.
My students engage in Sacred Writing Time at the beginning of each Language Arts period. They know to pick up their journal and begin writing immediately, no need for instructions. If you are a Language Arts teacher, I highly recommend you check out Corbett Harrison's resources!
|I'm done! What do I do now?|
When students complete work, there are many things they can do. I have a large selection of brain games to choose from (all of which can be played individually), as well as challenge cards. If students want to check in with me, they take a conference number and wait to be called (this allows them to continue working on something, rather than standing at my desk waiting their turn). I use a variety of physical brain breaks with students as well.
Blogs, Twitter, and Tech Tools
I follow a lot of education blogs, as well as many Twitter users. Here is a small sampling of my current favourites :
My Twitter handle : @MadameGaudet