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Lessons From the Week

Oh my word.

What.

A.

Week.

Last week, we had semester exams.

This was a short week with Monday’s holiday.

The.

Kids.

Were.

Nuts.

Adjusting to different routines two weeks in a row proved difficult for my students.

We persevered, and in the process, I learned quite a few lessons.

Lesson #1

Be flexible…especially when there are changes in the works that you don’t have control of.

I’d planned quite a few things for Tuesday.  During my first class, I realized that there was no way we were going to get through everything, so I quickly adjusted and pushed the rest of the week’s lesson plans back.

This simple act freed all of us from the stress of trying to squeeze too many things into one day.

Lesson #2

Just because a class has a lot of behavior issues does not mean that the class cannot act as good as if not better than the “good” classes.

I learned this lesson on Tuesday.  I had changed my students’ assigned seats, and I was shocked when my first two classes (especially the most laid-back…my first period class) loudly resisted!

I dreaded that last class coming in and finding out what I’d planned.

To my surprise, they took the news the best and quietly moved to their new seats.

That is not to say that they liked their new seats.  I’d purposely placed people next to others who would “discourage” them from talking.

I gave them props, though, for stepping up to the plate.

Lesson #3

Kids love to perform.

I am currently teaching my students how to make inferences.  This is one of the most difficult reading skills for students to master.

I’d found a fun lesson plan idea.  Students first read a conversation (something I found online and cannot find a link to…comment on this post and I’ll email it to you) to themselves.  Then, I had them read the conversation aloud, taking turns reading the lines with their shoulder partners.

Before we did the partner practice, I modeled it for my students, using a volunteer to help me out.  I pointed out important clues like punctuation marks, turning this lesson into fluency practice as well.

When it was my students’ turn to do the partner reading, I walked around and listened.

I.

Was.

Amazed.

The kids were a little embarrassed at first, but they gained confidence and really got into their characters.

They read with a lot of expression, and I heard a lot of giggles…even from the boys.

I don’t know why, but it was only during my second class when I got the idea to ask a pair to volunteer to stand up and read the conversation for the class.

Two of my girls in fourth period got up, and oh goodness, what a show they put on!!!

Their delivery was PERFECT!

They had all of us nearly falling out of our chairs as we laughed with them.

We loved it so much that they performed it a second time.

During sixth period, the students who argue the loudest about class assignments had the most fun.  Some of the kids expressed displeasure when paired with their shoulder partners, but all was forgotten as the exercise continued.

Two of my students performed in front of the class, and everyone had fun.

Lesson #4

Don’t hesitate to call parents.  Although you might think a parent isn’t involved, a phone call usually proves this to be a false assumption.

I spoke with two mamas this week, and they were extremely grateful for the calls I made.  Talking to them gave me insight into their children’s disruptive behavior in my classroom and led me to empathize with the kids for the various things they are dealing with outside of my classroom.

I think that as the school year continues, teachers are less apt to call parents and rely more heavily on the discipline referral system…as an easier “fix.”

As Fred Jones likes to say, if the problem doesn’t get fixed within your classroom, it’s probably not going to get fixed.

Lesson #5

Lecturing students on misbehavior is pointless.

I watched a female student of mine completely shut down while I was trying to give her a “pep talk.”

I stopped the talk immediately and asked her what was going through her mind.

She told me that she hates lectures.

That’s how she viewed the conversation.

I apologized quickly.

I was reminded that I need to do less talking.

Lesson #6

Ask students more questions.

This is a lesson I’m learning from my mentor.

Every time I go to her with anything, be it a problem or celebration, she always asks a thought-provoking question, never allowing me to completely remain comfortable where I’m at but always challenging me to take my thinking and application to the next level.

THIS is what I need to do for my students.

If we, as teachers, are doing all of the talking, we’re merely spoon-feeding information to kids.

It’s information they don’t take ownership of because they have no part in creating it.

Asking questions does the same things for students that it does when my mentor asks them of me.

Questions require me to create answers, but I can’t create answers until I reflect.

How I answer is going to differ from how another person will answer because my life experiences are unique.

Such it is with the students I teach.

I need to ask more questions.

Lesson #7

Collaboration between teachers is a MUST if our children are going to succeed.

I’m not just talking about collaboration between teachers in the same department.

I think there needs to be more collaboration between teachers of different departments.

I’m currently working with a social studies teacher.  For our annual review (mine is actually a two-step process since I’m still a newbie teacher), we decided to work on vocabulary strategies for a select group of students that we share.

It’s been an interesting process, and the path hasn’t always been super clear.

This week, we made some firm plans that I am excited about.  I am going to look ahead at her textbook and incorporate informational text that contains supplemental topic material to support the content she’s teaching in her classroom.  I’m going to teach my students comprehension strategies so that they will understand the text I’m presenting to them.  The goal is that they will carry these strategies to her classroom.  She’ll follow up by using the same strategies in her room but with the textbook material.

This teacher came into my room yesterday because she needed assistance with something.  She came a little too early…before my class was over…so she got to watch while I taught my students.  She then participated in literacy stations, playing a main idea game with one of my groups.

Although her presence in my room was not exactly planned, it was a blessing.  She’s now armed with knowledge of how my classroom runs and the kind of language I employ when teaching strategies to my kids.

This can only reap good results…as in students who will be more successful as readers.  I am very, very excited!

Lesson #8

There is no room for drama in the classroom or anywhere else on campus, for that matter.

I know I teach teenagers.

I know they are all about the drama.

The drama stops at my door.

The same goes for adult drama.

This week, I discovered that I cannot do drama.

I had two days of it.

The first day was mostly my fault when I read more into something than I should have.

The second day was NOT my fault, but it affected me deeply and will probably continue to affect me for a little while.

While I cannot avoid the fallout from the second drama, I am not going to allow myself to be sucked in deeper by it.

My priority in my profession is the student body…those youngsters who walk onto campus each day.

They need me to be focused on THEIR needs and nothing else.

Drama puts the focus where it shouldn’t be, and I’m done with that.

I didn’t like what it turned me into…a person whose stomach and throat hurt because I knew in my soul that it wasn’t right, nor was my reaction to it.

How can I ever expect the students I teach to steer clear of drama if I don’t do it myself.

Lesson #9

I love what I do so much.

Although teaching has its ups and downs, I love it.

This is a lesson I learned my first year of teaching, but I felt the need to include it on this list because even when I’m having a bad day, I’ll be reminded by a student’s random comment or kind gesture that I am making a difference in my students’ lives.

Lesson #10

Sometimes, after a roller coaster week, you’ve got to cut yourself some slack and be bad.

This was my answer to the week.

Booya!

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2 Responses

  1. Lesson #11 – Never let someone else’s drama affect past the point you are forced to witness it. (Said the wise OLD dinosaur!)

  2. Affect YOU I should have said…..the wise old dinosaur doesn’t think this early on a Saturday because she’s a DINOSAUR!!!!

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