I started a new teaching job. This year I’m teaching English, Spanish, and Theatre Arts at a small school. I’m mostly teaching 5th-8th grade, though I do have a specials rotation with 3rd abs 4th grade.
Every year I start my classes out basically the same way: students fill out info and goals sheets as bell work while I do first day attendance and housekeeping. Next, I do a basic introduction presentation and go over my syllabus. If there is time, we do the name game, and class promptly ends. Seven years. ~1000 kids.
This time, I did something different. Year 8 began with stations. I said hello, we made name tents, and off they went to 5 different stations. (1) student info and goal setting, #goals, (2) syllabus puzzle (using block posters) and syllabus quiz, (3) book tasting from my classroom library, (4) a reading survey, and (5) write a letter to yourself.
Doing something different has already changed everything about my class. I was able to teach my expectations by showing my students instead of telling them. They were able to experience my procedures for grouping and moving around the room. And, I got to see how and with whom they interact. It was a success.
This last week has been an exciting one! I began my final internship at Gaither High School. By the end of the semester, I will be teaching 5 Spanish 2 classes. During the my first day, I learned so many things. Firstly, this is the first year that Hillsborough county has had Monday’s as an early release day each week. This made our class periods much shorter than usual, but still plenty long enough to cover a lot of ground in class. This was only the second week of school, so there was still a lot of paperwork to be done and a lot of changes being made. Each day this week we had students adding and dropping our class. One observation that my CT (Cooperating Teacher) made is that progress is so slow during the first few weeks of class because of all of the interruptions to class progress. This means that as a teacher, one must find ways to keep the entire class on task while catching new students up on classwork and class procedures, etc.
Throughout the week I mostly observed the classes but I learned the procedures for taking attendance, grading participation activities, grading homework, etc. I was able to observe my CT teach lessons in the first part of the day each day, and then talk with her about a part of the lesson I would like to lead in the last half of the day.
Our classes are full of pretty great kids. We also have a few native speakers in each of our classes, which is both a challenge and an amazing resource. I have already been thinking of ways to modify assignments for these students to make our learning more relevant for them and to help them contribute their unique perspective to our classes.
Despite the fact that our kids are great, I have noticed that the shear presence of my CT commands their respect and attention. Developing a presence in the classroom is going to be essential to keeping the classes on task so that we can have a fun and productive time of learning each day in class. While my CT can stand in front of the classroom to give notes and keep the classes attention, I have already discovered that it is important for me to move about the classroom while I teach or lead lessons as I continue to develop my presence. This small adjustment has helped me take a huge step towards strengthening my presence in the classroom.
Also, after the first week of internship, despite lots of fruits, veggies, and vitamins… I already have a cold! I guess I should have given up the junk food a little sooner… Thank goodness for the three day weekend, it has allowed me to recover quite a bit.
There is so much to observe and comment on, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. Overall, this has been a great experience so far. 🙂