Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Teaching Nightmare

Last night I had a bad dream.  Not just a bad dream…a nightmare. 

It isn’t too often that I can remember my dreams, but this one stuck with me like a piece of Velcro (I have been shopping for school supplies, can you tell?).

In this dream I had volunteered to be the club sponsor for a small group Chorus type activity.  So yes, I guess I was like Mr. Schuester in Glee.  Joy.  My motivation behind this was surely the goal of making myself “indispensable” at my school so they simply must keep me next year.  :] 

Unfortunately, the group was OUT OF CONTROL.  Like, full-out fighting.  I very much pride myself on not losing my temper, but I was actually yelling at the kids.  And they wouldn’t stop!  So the whole dream essentially consisted of kids yelling, me yelling, and the decibel level continually reaching new heights.

That's dream Abby losing her mind.

The dream ended as we were going to a performance and I felt 110% overwhelmed.  What a nasty, yucky dream.

Classroom management is not my strong point and I’m always working to improve it.  This dream hit a little too close to my real teaching fears—I definitely did not like it.  Hopefully it wasn’t a prophetic dream…

What is your teaching “nightmare”?  And how are you working on it?  I’m working on classroom management by reading all of these great teaching blogs, observing master teachers, and asking tons of questions.  My goal is to be great at classroom management in the next couple years (although I know I’ll always be able to learn and grow). 

picture source

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

So I am very late to this linky party, but it's still open so I am going to jump right in!  I'm writing about a typical school day for "A Day in My Shoes" hosted over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher.

6:00AM- Alarm goes off.  I hit snooze an embarrassing number of times before I finally get up and shuffle around getting ready.  I shower at night because I am so not a morning person--if I waited to shower in the morning I would probably never be clean.  Disgusting, right?  So that's why I shower at night.

7:10AM- Rush to my car with my purse, school bag, lunch bag, and morning drink (OJ, coffee, Slim Fast, or a diet soda).  Pray that there isn't a lot of traffic.

7:15AM-7:50AM- Sit in rush hour Atlanta traffic and eat my breakfast...always a delicious Luna bar!

7:55AM- Roll into school right on time and head to my trailer.  Check my e-mail, finish breakfast, get stuff ready for the day.

8:30AM- Head to the cafeteria for morning duty.  Kids come with their class's breakfast order and I hand them the number of juices they need.

9:00AM- Pick up my testing materials, check my mailbox, and head back to my trailer.

9:15AM- Pick up a student for testing.  I'll test individuals til about 12:00.

12:00PM- Take about an hour for lunch and planning.  I head to the staff lunchroom to make my oatmeal, which I then take back to my trailer to enjoy.  It's very quiet and peaceful.  :]

1:00PM-3:00PM- Continue doing individual testing until the end of the day.

3:00PM-3:50PM-  I don't have afternoon duty, so I spend the last 50 minutes of the day getting stuff ready for the next day and checking my testing materials back in.  I normally don't stay too late, so at 3:50ish I'm right out the door!  If I stay past 4:30 I hit major afternoon rush hour.  Living and driving around Atlanta is a beast (but I love living and working here). 

Unfortunately, my current day-to-day isn't very interesting because of the testing.  My hope is to finish testing this week so I can start up with my students again next Monday.  They keep seeing me in the halls and asking, "Ms. S!  When are you going to get us for ESOL again?"  I miss those little kiddos.  :[  I'm definitely ready for us to get into a routine. 

Speaking of routine, next time I'm going to share how we start class every day.  We sing a super cute song that is geared towards ELL's (English Language Learners), but I can see it being used in K, 1, and Special Education classes.  Tune in later this week to see it!  :]

Have a wonderful Sabbath, and don't forget to go check out the linky party over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Very Important "Organization Spot"

One good thing about this testing is that it has given me plenty of time to work on my classroom.  As a new teacher, my decorations, etc., are pretty sparse.  I see all of these classrooms (at school and on blogs) that look AMAZING with all of the decorations, books, games, and so on, and then I wonder why my room doesn’t look like that.  Which has led to me spending tons of time trying to make my room look cuter.  With all of that said, I’m not too worried about the issue of not having enough stuff, simply because I know that having too much stuff will someday be my problem.  It seems that after a certain number of years, all teachers complain that they are drowning in resources.  One day that will be me, but not today!

Long story short, I am learning to be resourceful.  I’m taking what I have and using it to its’ full potential.  Today I want to show you one little area of my whiteboard.

I’ve been thinking about what to call this area…maybe just my “Organization Spot” for all of the little info tidbits I need.  I got the border secondhand from another teacher and it already had magnets on the back…perfect for my board!  Somehow I ended up using only red and blue in this area…totally not planned, but I love it!

Here are some different aspects of my Organization Spot:

Vocabulary for the week (or day).  I already have these on pieces of tape, so after we’re done with those words I can stick them straight to our word wall in the back of the room.

Essential Questions.  Do you use these at your school?  I put them on our intro activity on the computer, but I think it’s good to have them visible all the time.  Obviously there aren’t any questions up right now because we’re not having class!  Although, I guess I could write “How can I cope with testing?”  Seems like a good question!  :]

Love bots.  Valentine’s Day is in a couple weeks, and I just couldn’t resist these little love bots in the Target dollar section.  So cute!  And I love how the glare makes the boy bot look like he has angry eyebrows.  He has some angry love.

Schedule stuff.  I have my daily schedule, the specials schedule for a group that I take to specials, and the day of the specials rotation.  I could never keep track of where I was supposed to be if I didn’t have these up there.  I also have my name in this area because I know the kids can’t remember my name.  Maybe seeing it written will help (maybe).  :]

So there you have it—my Organization Spot!  How do you stay organized and on schedule?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Testing, Testing

So, I’ve been doing this job for three weeks, and right now we’re in the second week of testing.  Which means that I’ve seen my students a total of three whole times.  Goodness!  I am so ready for this testing to be over so that I can start really digging into our material.  Of course, the testing is very important, but I won’t be sad when it’s over.  :]

Here are some things I’ve been thinking about this week.  When testing is over, I am going to spend three days doing a review of two major topics: map skills and curiosity (in science).  I’m still thinking about how to do the map skills days, but I have curiosity down.  And I’d like to share with you.  :]

Back in college we did a project where everyone created a short science experiment that had an unexpected outcome.  We had a blast coming together as a class and checking out the really awesome experiments that everyone had found.  My friend Michaela did one called Dancing Raisins, and to this day it is one of my favorites.  Kids absolutely love it. 

To do this experiment, you need ginger ale (or another clear-ish soda), raisins, and a tall clear container.  Pour the ginger ale into the container and ask the kids for their hypothesis.  Do they think the raisins will sink or float?  When you drop the raisins in, they will sink at first, but then the bubbles will attach to the wrinkles, which makes them float back up to the top.  Once they reach the top, the bubbles burst, and the cycle happens all over again.  It will keep going for quite a while—for as long as the drink is still slightly fizzy. 

With my kiddos we are going to focus on one big word: hypothesis.  We will define it and talk about what it means.  Then after the experiment, they will complete this worksheet at their seats.  The statements are cloze statements.  I will provide a word bank on the board.  I have uploaded the worksheet I am using for you guys to “borrow.”  Let me know if you do this experiment!  I’m sure your kiddos would love it, too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Almighty Marble Jar

Several years ago I had the pleasure of observing one of the best teachers ever for the first two weeks of the school year.  She is honestly the most fantastic person I've ever seen standing in front of a classroom.  So many of the ideas that I use originated from her, including this gem of a classroom management tool.

This is the almighty marble jar.  (A note on the name: it really isn't a jar, but my ESOL kiddies have a hard time with lots of the more fitting words, like "container."  And "Ms. S's Marble Container" just doesn't sound as good.)

I made a huge deal about this to the kids, so they are super pumped about it.  Every time I catch them all doing something good, I drop a "marble" into the jar.  It makes quite the racket when I drop one in--I can see all of their faces light up, and then they start concentrating on their work even harder.  It's pretty hilarious. 

When the jar is full, they get a special surprise.  I told them it could be a day of free centers, games, computer time, a video, playdough, or even a fun snack.  It's cool because each of my six groups are using the same jar, so they get to help each other out (also hence the large size of the jar, since I could possibly put 12 marbles in it on one day). 

Obviously we have a long way to go before our first treat, but once classes start back up I think we'll start earning marbles like crazy.  Right now we are doing testing, so I don't see my kiddos for two more weeks!  Sad day.  :[
Do you have a favorite classroom management tactic? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Woo hoo! Teaching Blog!

It's felt like I've been waiting for ages, but the day has finally come...the day we've all been waiting for...dun dun dun...

I have a teaching blog!  Hooray!

I knew that I couldn't have a real teaching blog until I got a real teaching job...so when I started teaching ESOL last week, the teaching blog wasn't far behind.

I graduated college in May of 2010, and since then I've done just about everything except teach.  I was a regular sub; a long-term sub in 3rd grade and K-5 art special; a camp counselor; and a parapro in two different special ed classes (SID/PID and then MOID).  Whew--just think, all of those jobs were in less than a two year span.  Slowly but surely I've been moving my way up the educational ladder.

Then the clouds parted and the sun shone down on me (just kidding), and I got a call offering me a job as a 1st grade/Kindergarten ESOL teacher.  Lemme tell you, I jumped on that without hesitation!  As of today, I have been an ESOL teacher for two weeks (obviously I am now an expert).  I am so excited to begin chronicling the adventures (and misadventures) of my first real teaching job.  My plan is to share lots of the things we're doing in class in the hopes that maybe it will inspire someone else out there.  I love following teaching blogs, so please comment and I'll go check you out!