Here we go again, people!
It’s time for another school year. (For those that work at a year-round school, you might have long since settled into your classrooms. Hope it’s going well.) As I mentioned before, I have taken on a new role this year as an instructional coach. I’m currently on Day 6 and have attended a total of 5 trainings. I’d say it’s going rather well! (I’ll speak on the trainings at a later date because I got some really juicy tidbits to share.) Anyway, even though I don’t have my own classroom, I will still be posting things I have done in the past. You know, those things that I always said I would blog about…and didn’t.
The most important thing a teacher can do during the first days of school is to build a positive and supportive classroom culture. The students need to feel safe in order to take academic risks throughout the year. If the students are not comfortable, collaborative conversations cannot occur and learning will not reaching its optimum potential. We all know that learning is social. So if the social environment is not there, students will not achieve their full greatness.
One of my brilliant professors taught me a motto which I have since stolen and slapped on a poster. He would say, “Everyone participates, everyone learns. You either do it with us or in front of us.” He would make us repeat that each day. So when students felt like not participating in an activity (I like to incorporate dance moves, songs, cheers, etc.), that would be their choice. But I would remind them that their only other option was to do it ‘in front of us’. I have yet to have a student come to the front.
Below are some pictures that I will briefly explain. The “FAIL” poster was always a hit. Students glanced at it with scary eyes until I explained that failure was welcomed and encouraged in this class. When we fail, we learn and try again. Each day I had a different activity for the students to try to practice this concept (i.e. house of cards, math challenges, domino buildings, any fun thing found on my pinterest board).
Above was my revised book recommendation wall. Originally, I had the books only sorted by fictional and informational text. But because my “40 Book Challenge” required readings of different genres, I needed to categorize the recommendations for the students.
I always took pictures of my kids on the first day of school and made about 6 copies per student. You’ll notice in my classroom that I have their faces on everything. I like that personal touch, more so than name tags. Personal preference. The Raining Compliments was a way to teach the students how to give and receive meaningful compliments. One of my classroom jobs was a compliment coordinator. This person would let me know when each student had at least one compliment in their bag. Only then would students be able to collect their compliments during dismissal.
I know, I know. Multiplication Jail might be considered too negative. It depends on the relationship you have with your students. This is always when I used to give timed math tests (operational drills). I stopped that practice a couple years ago. Strain your Brain was simply a fun, critical thinking challenge (usually math) that students tried to solve each week.
Love this science challenge of the week. Again, it was a student’s job. The less I have to remember, the better for all. The visual for monitoring the writing process really helped me keep track of where everyone was and who needed help.
P.S. Love the “Please excuse our bare board. Our writing is under construction.” sign. I always felt guilty with a bare board, but this sign liberated me.