Wednesday, September 5, 2012
You know that New Year's Resolution thing where you pick one word and make that the 'theme' of your year? Well, I'm making a New Year's Resolution for school this year. My word is connections.
I was talking to another teacher yesterday about the difficulty I'm having in connecting with some of my students this year. I don't think the majority of my difficulty is in the personalities of myself and my students, but rather a result of lack of time. I think that connecting with students is one of the most vital aspects of good classroom management. I know that we're only 2 1/2 weeks into school, and that many more connections will come and strengthen with time. I'm also adjusting to having about 3 times the number of students I had last year -- quite a change! It feels like there's a lot less of me to go around right now, but I'm already starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of it (or the kids are feeling less needy :) ).
Today, I am walking on sunshine
wo-oah, and don't it feel good! I had a fabulous day with my kiddos, despite all of us being tired and most of the teaching staff being a little under the weather with the infamous crud. You know, tired, stuffy, then the runny nose, sore throat, losing the voice, general yucky feeling? I think a bunch of the kids have it too, judging by the number of tissues I've gone through in the last two days. We worked well most of the day, with only a few adjustments being made in my classes that require more accommodations. I had the opportunity to talk and teach one-on-one with ALMOST every kid I teach today. :) :) :) Towards the end of the day, I realized that I liked it better if they were working alone and not with a partner, which surprisingly enough, made them ask me less questions and gave me the freedom to move around and monitor more. I think maybe they stopped second guessing themselves? I scanned their work, and a lot of the individual work is higher quality, too. One of my ESOL kids absolutely MADE my day. He's acted rather like a thug for most of the last two weeks, except for when I've moved him away from everyone he likes in class, when he acted like a punk and refused to do any work. He's still not sitting with his best buds, but seems to understand that I'm really not 'out to get him' and that I'm willing to help him understand and to try and explain things so that he can break them down and translate them into his native language and complete the work. He did a phenomenal job on our assignment today, after telling me he couldn't do it.
Another context of the word connection in my classroom this year is that we are focusing on connecting subjects. TAP (Teacher Advancement Program) requires that we emphasize real-world connections and personal relevance in our daily lessons. We're implementing a new program in addition to TAP called FSL (Facilitating Student Learning). FSL takes the real world and personal relevance connections and amps it up by becoming more thoroughly cross-curricular and by connecting each thing we learn to each other thing we learn. Luckily, I teach life science. It's a little difficult for the kids right now because they don't have all the building blocks yet, but just the basic exposure to things seems to be sparking the neurons. As we call them in class, brain waves. I did something to try and increase the rigor in my classroom (helloooo Common Core!!!) and one of the kids told me I was trying to stretch his brain too far.
I'm also making connections with the other teachers in my school. There are 12 subject area teachers in my grade (ELA, math, science, and social studies). This is more teachers than there were in my entire middle and high school last year, and this is only academic subjects for one grade! I'm looking forward to getting to know these ladies and gents better and to learning from them as well.
Oh, and the b-i-g connections? I'm a science olympiad coach. From my understanding, if you teach science and don't have a legitimate excuse, you can go ahead and sign away your Saturday mornings to science olympiad coaching. It's a really cool extra curricular, and I wanted to coach even before I was officially contracted. Conveniently, when I went in to talk to the head coach about it, she handed me a book and said, "Here...which events are you strong in??? You know you're coaching, right?" Our school has a long history of winning, so I hope I don't let them down. There are lots of people who help with the team, so the responsibility level should be decently low. Today, a school staffer asked me if I'd be willing to be the assistant coach for the Academic Bowl. I reminded her that I was already committed to Science Olympiad, and she assured me that it was only about a 6 week season, with a competition every other week (school nights, not weekends), and one practice after school a week for a few weeks leading up to the competition season. It doesn't sound bad, but I have a really bad tendency to overcommit myself, so I'm 'thinking about it.' More connections to the community, other teachers around the state/ nation, etc.