How far ahead should I be planning?

I was originally going to make this post about my plans to implement the Six Cedar Trees into my classroom and build community. BUT then I realized I was going off on a tangent and switched my focus to get back on track. I found this great website with a Teacher Summer To Do list which has inspired me to look at Planning for this last blog post.  This website has some great ideas; some of which are reminders for areas we have already talked about and others that will give you more to think about! It focuses on your Management Plan, relationship building/get to know you activities, routines and planning the first 2-4 weeks only…..

http://teacheroffduty.com/summer-list-first-year-teachers/

Although I agree we can’t plan to far ahead, as we wait to begin out school year there is much to think about and I do believe that having a loose (and flexible) yearly plan is necessary. My earlier post on What To Do the First Day of the School  advised us to begin planning for academics right away…..so which academics should we start with? To figure this out you will need a Yearly Planning template like this one from Teachers Pay Teachers. Or of course you can just make your own! You need to be able to organize all your main units by each subject and which months units should be placed. It is important to have a copy of the curriculum close at hand so you can be sure to include all the Big Ideas and Content. Make sure to know how many instructional weeks you have per month.

Here are some ways you can organize your units:

  • Seasonally – Consider what time of year it would be best to learn about certain topics (don’t study plants during the dark months of winter etc.)
  • Plan around Holidays such as Halloween, Christmas and Easter to use theming.
  • Focus on planning you Content subjects first then integrate Literacy and Math around them
  • Focus on areas that you are most nervous about to get that area out of the way.
  • Focus on areas that will create the most impact in your students learning.

Here are some more tips from SCHOLASTIC CANADA.

 We learned about the important of backward design last year with Paige and this situation is no different. Look at the units that you want to teach. Are there any skills that your students will need to know BEFORE you teach that unit? Put skill building units to the beginning of the year. Things like the Core Competencies, Historical Ways of Thinking and Inquiry skills are great to work on in the beginning of the year so that your students will be supported in deeper learning further down the road.

Well there you have it! We definitely won’t be completely ready when we start this journey of ours but hopefully this has helped you consider some of the things you will need to be prepared for as a classroom teacher…. *mic drop*

– Ms. S

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Building Community in the Classroom

We’ve talked about management already but when you are about to have your own class for the first time I think it is really important that you take some time and think about what type of classroom community you would like to have. All of my research has talked about how important community building is at the beginning of the year so that your students feel safe, at ease, and ready to share their thinking with their peers.  8 STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING CLASSROOM COMMUNITY is a blog post (click on it!) from thinkgrowgiggle.com and is a great starting place to get some ideas of ways you can build community with your students without spending a lot of money on resources. These are things you will want to fit into your routines such as class theme songs, relationship builders, goal setting and communication entered activities.

A Classroom Diva has a youTube video discussing her top strategies for building a community in the class which she says is important for good classroom management. Other things discussed are class jobs, collaboration and more relationship building. 

 

 

The previous video mentioned a strategy that I have seen in other places called the Morning MeetingThis is a time in the day where the teacher and students can do a check in, shake hands and greet each other and a chance for the teacher to set the tone of the day. Many models include a team building activity (and a chance for the students to move around) and also time to share with each other things that are happening in their lives. Here is a video from Edutopia discussing this technique.

Lastly we will discuss how bringing culture into the classroom is so important for community. It was touched upon in some of the other resources I provided for you but I will be devoting my entire last post to share with you my plan to incorporate the Six Cedars Tree into the classroom and using the First Peoples ways of Knowing to support the teaching of Core Competencies……. I better get on it…

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How do I set up my class when I don’t have any stuff!?

Hello – 

We’ve  had lots of time in our class discussions and our own findings to have a sense of what type of routines we want to implement and how we want to teach our students……but what about the space your students are going to be in? How is that going to be organized and where are you going to put all your things so you can find them? As a new teacher you probably have a small stash of things you have randomly bought along the way but what else are you going to need? I’m going to go over a few basic ideas to help you (and me, mostly) get started and also to bring to your attention some things you may not have given thought to! 

First of all, give yourself time before the school year begins to get ready! Obviously this isn’t always possible as a new teacher but if you can get into your classroom atleast the week before you will have much less stress. This gives you a chance to look at your layout, what type of shelving or storage you have in the class and where the white boards and projectors are set up…..if you have any. Another good reason to get yourself into your new school early is to make contact with some of the other staff.

I know I always feel nervous going into a new school, but I always feel better when I’m in my hometown because I always recognize somebody I know in the staff room and that is comforting. Teachers are much better at collaborating these days and you will want to get in on that!

Once you know what type of space you are working with then you can begin to plan your bulletin boards, carpet space, and displays you will have. Make sure that you use cohesive colours and keep a theme, this keeps the classroom all in sync. Getting prepared ahead of time means you have more time to think about what you would like to display and gives you time to print and laminate different resources. Of course we all know pinterest.ca and teacherspayteachers.com but do start regularly watching as many things go on sale or become free from time to time that could be useful in the future. It’s ok if your classroom is pretty empty, don’t feel that you need all the posters and displays already chosen. It’s very difficult at this stage to know what we are going to want to use on the walls. Your students will enjoy watching their walls fill up as the year progresses and they know the reason behind everything you put there! I love the idea of displaying the cover art of all the books we have read as a class on the wall, or sort them into categories. There are some many things you could do with that idea!

Other decisions you will have to make in your space are:

  • Find distinct areas around the room for your different uses. (carpet space, desk area, stations/centres, quiet reading nook etc.)
  • Where are YOU going to work? At one desk? Multiple work surfaces?
  • Where will student supplies be kept (glue, scissors, pens, paper)? How will you store these?
  • Where do you expect the students to work? Find areas in the classroom that can be used as work space.
  • Do you want different lighting in some space of the class? 
  • Where are the students personal belongings going to be?

Lastly, I think it is important to specifically talk about books. A very important aspect of a classroom is its library and how book selection for students is set up. This is an area that I do worry about because it is going to take a lot of time to build up a book collection and know which books we prefer using over others. As for where to get the books….start looking now. I have already been collecting books whenever I see a trolley of free books in a school. Its hard to know which ones to pick but I just grab a stack every time. Another good strategy is get friendly with teachers who are going to retire soon! This may sound crazy but they do not want to keep every single thing they have in their class and I have found many are thrilled to give it away knowing it is going to good use. Also, many TOC’s are teachers who no longer want to work full time or have their own class, and I have gotten totes full of stuff because they don’t need it anymore. It feels super overwhelming, but it will come together I promise you! It will be easier to know what you need if you break it up into a few different groups of book types.

  1. Reading level groups – This can be done in a few ways but the most popular is to have “Just Right” baskets with same-level books. Some teachers will make clothespin with the students names on them and clip their name onto the appropriate basket, this way they can be moved around. Benchmark books are also useful for this but not always as fun to read for the students. https://www.readinga-z.com/assessments/benchmark-books/ has some great online resources (depending on the tech access at your school) and also provides access to online reading records.
  2. Have a main library with a good assortment of fun books. These are books that students can grab at any time and read whether or not they are the right reading level or not. The purpose of this library is to inspire the love of reading. Generally, these would include popular classics and new popular books with characters that students love. Be sure to have your favourites in there as well! If you love your book collection then so will the students.
  3. This one is more optional but you could also add to your class a book shelf, or basket with theme books. This could rotate according to units, holidays and seasons. This is a different way to get students to look at books they may never have noticed before.

So now you know what I know! I suggest we all start taking notes of these little details while we are in practicum and compiling a folder of ideas…..and maybe hit a lotto garage sales looking for stuff…. 

Ms. S

Here are some great links I used for my research.

10 First Week of School Teacher Tips You Must Remember

 

More resources…

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/easy-guide-setting-your-grade-k-5-classroom/

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Top Strategies for the First Day of the Year

Hello – 

As I started to get ready to return to university this year, my brain couldn’t help but wander to thoughts of what it will be like to have our own classrooms and of what teachers all over the district were doing to prepare for the start of the year.  The more I thought about it, the more I started to panic! There is so much to think about and so much we don’t know! Thank goodness for the post-secondary education system and this assignment – which has led me to do research on this very thing…

For this blog post I will be focusing on the strategies that are the most recommended for the very first day of school. I have done lots of reading and listening to experts and experienced teachers on what they think are the most important steps to take on the first day to make an impression and to start off on the right foot. 

First of all, be very organized! Preparation, preparation, preparation!  The first day is all about setting routines and introducing the students to their classroom community. It’s very important that you establish rules and guidelines of the expectations you have for student’s behaviours. Whether you set the rules yourself or you develop class rules as a group, the guidelines will help students to feel calm and responsibility for their own actions.

Some routines you may want to introduce would be:

  • How you would like to students to move around the classroom.
  • Where they keep their belongings.
  • Hand raising procedures.
  • Where they can find supplies and what to do if they need anything.
  • Bathroom procedures.
  • Beginning/end of day routines.
  • How to move in the hallways/line up.
  • How you will get students attention during class time.

Secondly, the first few days of school are a very important time to begin making connections with your students. Take time during your day to do some “Getting to know each other” activities. Don’t assume all the kids in the class know each other, they need to get to know each other just as much as you need to get to know them. Setting up a safe and friendly environment will help you in the future with management and motivation.  Make your students feel welcome on the first day of school and help them to get to know you as well. Nothing makes a student feel more comfortable than knowing their teacher is excited to meet them and has prepared for their arrival.

Now that you’ve thought about your routines, getting to know your students and how you would like them to behave…..what about the school work?? When is the right time to start students on academic work? It is said that the very first day (second at the latest) is the right time to begin! If you are all fun the first week then that could set an expectation that there will not be any work and students could struggle to transition as well as they could have. Keep your lessons and classwork really simple. You can also use this time to address to students how you would like them to header their work and also where you would like them to hand in completed work. Make sure to have one really great lesson that shows the students what kind of teacher you are and how much fun you will be having together. The lesson doesn’t have to be science or math, try doing an activity that boosts moral in the classroom (diversity, community, respect, or anything from the core competencies). You can also add in small review work such as Mad Minute sheets, or short writing activities to begin taking inventory of what you students are capable of. 

These are some of the things that stood out as the most essential suggestions for how to structure your very first day in class.  I hope this helped you as much as it helped me! Next time I will posting about how to setup your classroom before your students even show up and different strategies for arranging the room. 

Below I have some links to great resources I found in my research. I will be keeping these for the day when I do have my own class. 🙂

– Ms. S

 

Tips for Beginning the School Year

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Welcome!

Hello friends – 

Welcome to my experimental journey in blogging! I will be doing research and building resources towards my personal Inquiry as a beginning teacher – “How to Survive the First Two Weeks of the School Year.”

I plan to collect different ideas and strategies for how to set up a classroom for the beginning of the school year – the best ways to layout the classroom, management plans, strategies for creating a classroom community, relationship building and how to set up routines so your classroom can be well structured and promotes a sense of comfort.

So stay tuned, I hope to share with you regularly and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas as we learn how to navigate the craziness that is the first month of school.

Ms. S

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