I had a bit of a stressful day today with starting my day with a meeting with the principal. Since my VA teaching license is not in yet and I teach at a Title 1 school (my NC one came in two weeks ago, so VA will take another month), I had to send home a letter to all parents explaining that I was not licensed YET. I remember when I first heard that I would get a mentor in August. I thought, what if she doesn’t like me or isn’t nice? The whole school seemed like a weird maze then and my classroom like a huge battleground. When we started texting, I realized how sweet she was. I realize now that she’s the most inclusive, kindest, and sweetest person I’ve ever met. Over the past few months, she has guided me through so many aspects of daily teaching life that I would not have been able to do without her. From plans to homework to word sorts, I can always count on her.
Flash forward to today: My mentor knew that this week has been super stressful for me with that and trying to get centers set up, so she walked into my classroom during the middle of Morning Work and gave me a silver box and told me “I was saving this but it seemed like you needed it now.” Inside was a bracelet with the a script around it that read: “Fancy jasper promotes tranquility.” Honestly it was the best moment of my teaching career. The best moment of my week by far. They say Oakland is a family, and my mentor is at the head. She never fails to speak up at meetings for the good of the rest of us and will be the person we throw under the bus if needed. A lot of times I go to her just to get a story from her to start my day. I wouldn’t be making it this far without her. ❤ Best mentor ever.
“Embrace the messiness; produce the flexibility.”
This weekend I had the lovely fortune of attending a Google Summit for Education conference . To say I was excited would be an understatement. I can’t wait to take these tricks and techniques from the conference into my classroom and life.
I never realized how powerful Google Chrome could be. I can block YouTube ads via AdBlock, make GIFs, and even have a virtual classroom for my students where they will find their assignments and turn it all into me. The drive saves all of it, and Suffolk Public Schools gives me unlimited storage.
One way I want to harness this power is to take an extension called Snagit (example below). This captures your screen and you can do a video as you flip tabs or try to explain something on the web. You can watch my GIF of this below. How I want to harness this power, is to use our computer book that we do read alouds on for Reading/Writing and record my voice reading the book. Then I can add my own comprehension questions for the different levels of groups. I can also review the vocabulary at the end. That way, while I’m pulling groups, I can still “meet” with every child. I can even shorten the link via another Chrome extension and put it in my Google classroom.
Overall, I learned a lot at this conference and I can’t wait to keep researching at home and to bring more of this into the classroom. As a first year teacher, I am constantly at the edge trying to fly. I’m constantly embracing the messiness and trying to be flexible. I don’t always succeed, but I do try.
Week 6 ended a little early.
Or if you count the Google Summit for Education conference I’ll be at all weekend, a little late. I’m having a day off tomorrow for a doctor’s appointment. While I’m excited for a day of peace, I will also miss my children. Writing sub plans made me realize how many procedures and items I have in place. Plus I had to plan so much just in case. I usually have a lot planned, but I definitely have some extra worksheets for tomorrow.
Today we used Twizzlers to make simple machines. It was actually pretty cool some of the inventions my children made. I had the good fortune of buying the watermelon twizzlers that were red and green. The children were able to tear them apart and then design their simple machine. I wish I could do more project-based learning like this and be more interactive with my students. The amount of quiet concentration my students had was amazing. They truly enjoyed this activity. I need to find more hands on ways to allow them to express their learning. I enjoyed watching this one though!
This week I had quite a few favorite moments when I felt like I was accomplishing my goals as a teacher. One was during mathematics on Friday. On Fridays I let my kids use their dry-erase markers on the desk. I tend to use this to reinforce current concepts and to review old concepts. The children were so excited to try new problems and how Miss Romm kept trying to “trick” them. It was amazing to walk around and see entire rows get the problems right. There were a few kids who still needed some extra help, however, for the most part, my students were understanding the concepts.
Another amazing moment was actually an accidental one. I try to incorporate movement in the classroom by having them rotate through problems I put on the walls. One of the problems was an estimation problem that said: Estimate 708+9. However, we have never estimated and rounded with the ones. I had no idea how to solve it so I took it to one co-teacher, and then my team leader. All the while screaming “I UPSET THE MATHEMATICAL WORLD PLEASE HELP ME,” of course. The first teacher couldn’t solve it and my team leader could. My kids were so excited to learn the answer the next day and only one child got it right. One little girl was telling a member of our custodial staff how “Miss Romm lets us ROTATE math problems! She even had one only one person in our class got right!” Adorable.
I’m still trying to incorporate movement more so I will have to see what our week will hold. I know we are hopefully building machines out of Twizzlers this week! Besides that, finally settling into a rhythm with teaching.
Trying Suffolk’s Best Donut Shop-Check.
Giving my child who does not care a reality check–Check.
Getting creative with three boys goofing off in line by holding their hands as we walked down the hall and making them straighten up–check! (:
There are moments when I make incredible breakthrough as a teacher and I think, hey, this could be fun. Not the usual panic-inducing trying to be consistent and trying to think 5 steps ahead. There are moments when I plan a totally interactive lesson or a lesson where they are able to move around the room. I’m trying to be better at incorporating movement and technology into my lessons so it is less me lecturing and more of their involvement. I have a pretty small room (10 times smaller than other teachers’ rooms) so I have yet to determine how we will efficiently and quietly do math stations. One way I really enjoyed incorporating movement this past week was with our 180 days of reading that we do every day (great SOL prep plus I can model the strategies), I have them move for the last question to different corners of the room. They get moving and get to show me their understanding on the topic. We’ve also done a possessive nouns scavenger hunt. I hope tomorrow we can do an estimation scavenger hunt. I would love to do more movement and be more interactive.
With trying to have more interactive lessons, I’ve discovered my kids love computer games. They loved this rounding pirate game we did, where they solved the problems and held them up on whiteboards and I picked the answer on the screen. We’ve also done a Virginia Trekkers where they matched England, Spain, and France and then we sailed the explorers. I’ve even found a Context Clues Jeopardy game for the end of this week. I wish we had smartboards, iPads, or that each child had their own computer, but for now I’ll be happy with what I have.
I’ve also been trying to be more positive. It is SO easy to yell at a child for the wrong behavior, but harder to notice the right one. The kindergarten classroom where I student taught utilized PBIS (as does most of NC), and I truly loved it. The fuzzies had the children working towards a goal of filling the bucket and kept the teacher more mindful of the positive. We do Whole Brain Teaching, which incorporates stickers and moving up levels. With one of my girls, she does so much better when I’m being positive with her. When I’m noticing others having great behavior around her, she straightens up so then I can compliment her. Less of the yelling and her giving me a lethal attitude. Even in the hallways, recognizing the positive and giving children stickers is so useful. I still have a lot of growth, but I hope I can be more positive this week.