Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Day Virgin

Student teaching? End of a school year. 
5th grade class? January to June, end of the year. 
P.E. Teacher? Oh sure, three years but the first week of school is different for PE: fewer and simpler rules and procedures, and get the kids running to work off their own back to school anxiety. 

So don't tell my new boss, but I've never done this whole First Week of School thing...

Can I give them a test on our first day? 
Or do we have to do lots of cute creative projects to decorate the room?
Is the "Don't smile until Christmas" rule in effect?
Do I really need to have 4th graders practice lining up and raising their hands?
How soon do we open the textbooks?
Will we even have textbooks yet?

Can I just skip ahead to week 2?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Inspiration to Perspiration

I went from "Finally!" to "Now what?!?" in less than 12 hours.

In the time it took me to drink an entire bottle of champagne then jolt awake at 4:45am I went from relieved the application/interview/hiring process was over and brimming with ideas to inspire and educate 30 young minds to terrified with the prospect of not having even the slightest idea as to what I was getting into and what I am supposed to do.

So what is a new teacher feeling with just over one week before school starts?

  • Nauseated (then again, see champagne contribution above)
  • Nervous
  • Unprepared
  • Panicked
  • Lost
  • Clueless
  • Embarrassed (what if someone finds out I'm clueless?)
  • Overwhelmed
  • Shy
  • Jittery
  • Duplicitous (did I lie when I said I could do this?)
  • Confused
Part of it is the fact that I don't know yet what grade I'll be teaching. Probably 4th, but maybe 2nd or 3rd? Since I don't know the grade level no one knew what room I would be in. I think I will feel much better, more confident and prepared, once I'm standing in our classroom with specific students to plan for.

I hope.

Do teachers throw up on the first day of school?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things My Students Will Do

  • Teach each other. I will never be the only Educator in the room, every single student needs to be aware of and responsible for not only their own learning but also for their classmates'. They are all experts on something, probably several things, and how could they not be eager to learn if they get to pick the subject? What better way to learn more/deeper than by researching, studying, and teaching something they enjoy? 
  • Be confused. Perplexed. Stymied. Frustrated. Resilient. My sons cannot tell you how many times they've heard the phrases "Look it up" or "Figure it out" as my answer to their questions. This connects to classroom management (sharp pencils, what page are we on, how to spell...) and learning to think through difficult work and persevere toward an solution. Real world problems, project based learning, choices on how to demonstrate learning, high standards and expectations. There's word going around education idea circles that fits right into this and students definitely need more: grit
  • Always be doing something. Not that independent reading isn't awesome, but when finished with the assignment is that all there is to do? And won't those students eagerly pulling a book out get their reading time in anyway? But no, you will not see stacks of worksheets in my classroom... The Must Do/May Do list will have lots of producing, collaborating, evidence finding, problem solving, creating choices.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Want To Be Subversive

What do you want your students to be able to do, not by the end of the year, but in 2026?

I love this woman. I want to be this teacher.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Middle School: Heaven or Hell?

Teaching middle schoolers. 6th to 8th grade. 11-14 year olds. For me the question was really
Hell, or a deeper level of Hell?

When I got into teaching I always saw myself as a 3rd to 5th grade teacher, I was not interested at all in middle or high school. Two of my sons have hit those grade levels while I've gone through credentialing and subbing, but they weren't what made me shudder at the thought of 30+ 7th graders 6 times a day, it was their classmates. Kids will be kids, teenage boys will be teenage boys, but I wanted no part of trying to teach them. Add in teenage girls? No. Thank. You.

Which makes me laugh every time I sub in one of our middle school classes and come to the end of the day thinking  It would be so cool to teach this subject/grade/kids! It probably has a lot to do with knowing these students, some were in my first real class ever and all the 6th graders I had last year for P.E., and being able to treat them as young people, not just bodies in the way of a smooth day. Part of it has to do with a feeling, almost a mantra, I've had since seeing poor teachers in my children's lives: I can do better. Maybe it comes from a background in the cutthroat worlds of both sports and retail, but I usually feel I can teach these students more and teach them better. Athletics and retail management require constant adjustment and improvement, the seeking of better methods, better practice, better results, and the harsh reality that those results must be more efficient and effective than others' or you lose ("others" in education being Hollywood, hormones, Snapchat, e-cigs, etc.). At my school it's less I can do better and mostly I want to be a part of this as I see first hand in their classrooms, in their conversations, and in their students how these teachers are constantly trying to find what works and what will work better.

So middle school wouldn't be too bad after all.

Dear Principal...

I have at least been blogging a little, telling Principals how wonderful I am, but would like to get back to reflecting and planning more, digging a little deeper once in a while. I blame Netflix (since I cannot possibly blame The Wife) for my dearth of writing as well as my expanded waistline -- can't snack while typing, can I?