Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Replace "academia" with "education" and this is a pretty funny (and of course just a joke) commentary on making resolutions in education... I found it here.


In my opinion, my real "new year" is the beginning of the school year.  That is when I make my "New Year Resolutions" and reflect on what I want to do differently in the classroom, how I can better my classroom management, and feel an overall sense of a new beginning.

However, I don't want to let this opportunity for reflection to pass me by.  After all, the second quarter ended right before break so for my students and me this does feel like a fresh start and clean slate.  So here are my teaching resolutions for the new year:

1.) Get kids organized
2.) Continue to pursue leading professional development
3.) Review classroom management procedures and expectations


Here's the details of each:

Get kids organized
I think I did a great job of keeping my students organized when I taught 6th grade for the past couple of years.  I had systems that I had tried and knew worked.  Then when I changed schools this year and started with my 8th graders, I was nervous to keep the same systems.  Would they be to "babyish?"  Well, that was a mistake.  I wish that I had stuck with what I knew worked.  In some ways, I'm worried that it will be hard to implement changes half-way through the year but on the other hand, another half of the year left is too long to go with unorganized kiddos.... it's just driving me crazy!

So far, I've expected that students have binders with different sections labeled... good, but I wasn't the best at following up with this and making sure that everyone complied.  I need to do this when we get back to school.  In addition, I want students to have a notebook to keep in the binder where they will take notes and do warm-ups.  Allowing them to use random sheets of paper is just as bad as letting them not take notes at all.  We all know what happens with those loose sheets of paper.

The other benefit of a notebook is that we can glue in different organizers etc and make them more of an interactive notebook.  The issue I see is kids that don't get a notebook.  Could I make one with loose leaf paper (I already have some) and construction paper?  Bottom line is everyone needs one and I need to follow up with this.

Continue to pursue leading professional development
I'm presenting at a the Metropolitan Mathematics Club of Chicago's Annual Meeting on February 1st, so I am excited about that!  I am also presenting a short presentation (called Ignite Session) at my district's next Institute Day... it was supposed to be on Monday, but was canceled because of the extreme cold.

Review classroom management procedures and expectations
This one goes along with my first resolution.  However, besides just getting everyone organized, I've found that it is smart to spend the first day or two back from a long break reminding students what is expected in my classroom.  After two weeks (plus two snow days!) off from school, some habits may have been forgotten.  Also, there were a few behaviors that were getting a little out of control during the last weeks before break.
-No more eating in class.  Some students get breakfast in morning "Excel" (homeroom) and are permitted to eat leftovers in other classes.  I know I might seem like the meanie by not letting them eat, but there have been spills, crumbs, trash, and just an overall distraction that needs to stop.
-I need to wrangle in bathroom breaks.  This year we are trying no official bathroom passes and some students are taking advantage, leaving my class as much as once a day!  In a 45-min class, it's time I just can't allow to be wasted!  I'm thinking once a week and keeping track on my seating chart?
-Reminders of how to work in groups and kind reminders.
-Tardiness.  Students that are chronically 1-5 minutes late.  Need to think about this one...



So there are my resolutions.  I plan to reflect on how they are going when we get to the next major break- Spring Break at the end of March.  Wish me luck! :)


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