Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hi ho... hi ho... it's off to work we go...

The first week back in Term 3 is always full on.

Assessments to catch up, finish and start. Students to sort out and make sure they're on task. Students who I'm doing inquiries on to follow up and see where they're at.

It's easy with my students now who know me and who know how I operate in class. Sometimes it would be easier if this kind of relationship could happen that quickly in term 1. But there were a number of things that made life difficult at the start of term - and with the changing rolls and the extra class - it was pretty hard. Hopefully next year I'll be even more onto it.

For those of you in holiday mode - I salute you, you lucky things. Check these links out:

Weird Al Yankovic's 'Word Crimes' video

This is my list of things to do when starting a new year, with new classes:

  • Get pumped for a new year! Find exciting things to put up in my classroom
  • Print out the names and photos of all of my students in each class (this will change a lot throughout the first few weeks so I don't glue anything into my planbook until later)
  • Get my new planbook insides and fill them in - with my classes and with my own information
  • Plan out possible themes and basic unit plans for the coming year as well as the required assessments - with the way that I would teach it. 
  • Photocopy some name games and get to know you activities for me and my students
  • Get my students to write me a letter introducing them to me
  • Find out background information about my students - via past teachers, student voice/data, students' own recollections and understanding of how they learn best and also how they need help
  • Re-arrange classroom - desks, wall displays, make my class more relevant to my own students
  • Organise whiteboard setup... 
  • Implement the amazing stuff I learnt from using Twitter
  • Connect with whanau (families) and introduce myself
  • Put up posters that I had to take down before the end of year exams
  • Memorise my students names

What I plan on doing next year:
  • Have a letter home early on about the importance of blogging as part of improving literacy (reading/writing)
  • Think about the way in which I use assessment data with my students and how I will use it to not only inform my practice, but how it will help my students improve
  • Make more of an effort at putting up the amazing posters and things that my students create throughout the year, rather than just a basic approach. 
  • Make my class more colourful and a warmer environment to be in - more welcoming
  • Try to be more flexible within my learning environment

The important aspect of this all... is that this is the bare minimum of everything we do at the start of the year. I didn't mention the huge hauls at the stationary shops or the filling up of the lolly bucket or the small spot prizes I buy for quick extrinsic rewards in order to eventually move to intrinsic reward systems. My students - in particular my Y10 students - work hardest for intrinsic rewards now - whereas they kind of plateau early when there is an extrinsic reward offered... mainly because they know that regardless if I've made the class a cake they'll all get some anyway...

I didn't mention the huge amounts of time that go into thinking about student welfare and the best way to assess students depending on and resulting in x. Nor did I mention the emotional and mental stress of the extra - whatever the extra is. 

If teaching were merely teaching - it would be an easy job. It isn't an easy job and that's why teacher's get so easily frustrated at people who just don't understand the difficulties... or why we get annoyed when people moan about the fact that we get relatively long holidays... or when people use their own knowledge of being a student themselves back then, and think that they know everything about my job... or that they assume that just because they went to school they reckon they could do what I do... maybe they could. 

And with that... I will leave you this: