Sorry about the massive number of new posts today, I haven't figured out how to delay posting so that they are evenly spaced even if I write them all at once. That is, how to delay posting without me coming back and going through the process to post it (I want it done automatically at a certain time). Yes, I'm lazy about it. I've only got so much time and energy, so I pick what to be lazy about and try not to stress it.
This post is about what I'm doing new this year. I've got tons of ideas and even more hopes that I see great improvement this year. I think I know what kind of feelings I want as the year progresses and what I want to see out of my students. I've got 2 things really going for me. First, two of the three classes I'm teaching I taught last year, so only one class is new to me. Second, two of the three sets of students (by grade) I had last year. Basically, it means I'm familiar with 2/3 of the material and 2/3 of the students. The other 1/3 of the material, and 1/3 of the students, is not totally new to me in that I've interacted with the material before and interacted with the students some this last year, just never as MY class. I think these two things in and of themselves makes for a more confident year.
So, what's gonna be different?
1. I have a plan and a system for grading. I think it will be easy for me to implement standards based grading (sbg) since I don't already have a system in place. Nothing to replace, just a hole to fill. And SBG seems intuitive to me, I'm not sure why I didn't come up with it on my own. As a linguist, I'm very familiar with language learning and the goals and progress involved with teaching and learning a new language, which almost completely standards based, just witness the language learning progression/levels. I will make sure I detail this out and how I'm going to do it in another post, but I think this is enough for now.
2. I'm gonna correspond more with parents. I had some contact with parents, but I want more. I teach at a private school, so parents are quite involved already and some I got to know fairly well. Luckily, I'll have some of those same kids, so I'll see some of those parents again. But I want to be able to talk to parents more about how their child is doing (both good and bad) such that when something really does come up there is less shock value when I send an email or make a phone call.
3. That means I'll have to keep up with grading and paper work! Drat! No more putting off grading that paragraph till the end of the quarter. I want to be able to give good feedback on how the student is doing in relation to this or that, but that means not putting off grading/marking till the last minute. (slap hand just for thinking about it)
4. Discovery learning at least once a week. Yep, hands on, experimental, let the student go kinds of learning times. I'm pretty good with a bit of chaos in the classroom, I think with a clear set of guidelines and structured and specific instructions and goals, the kids will take this to the nines.
5. (this is for home life, too) Do the routines. No skimping and no whatever-I'll-do-it-later. Routines are good (say it often, repeat till it is ingrained!)
6. Have a water boiler in the office. Yep, hot tea on demand; no more walking to the teacher's lounge where I get distracted by this, that, and the other. No more getting coffee from the office where I think to rummage in the cabinet to see if anything fun can be found and don't get back to work for 45 minutes.
7. Provide healthy snacks for the last class of the day. I sort-of did this last year; I let the kids bring a snack to eat at the beginning of class since it was the last period of the day and they'd just come from P.E. and they were so very, very droopy. However, it was as often as not candy and/or soda which doesn't help the learning atmosphere. So, I decided I'll keep a supply of bananas, apples, oranges (and whatever else is cheap and in season) in a bowl in the room. If the I-just-grew-2-inches-in-the-last-hour boys find they are hungry, there is something to eat. Won't cost me tons, might get me to eat more fruit and will provide food for the worms (we have a worm farm :P). [seriously, though, I was at least an inch or 2 taller than all the students in grammar 6 at the beginning of the year last year, and by the end two or three were an inch or 2 taller than me!]
8. Work ahead. I've already got skeleton skedules (:D) for 1 class done, with the topic plans for the first quarter written out. For the other two classes I have some of the skeleton skedules done, and I still have 5 business days till in-service starts and 2 weeks after that till the students start back. And then, logic 2 biology won't start till the next week due to orientation and such for the students. I'm feeling so prepared right now! The key will be keeping up so that by quarter 2 I'm not significantly behind. It helps that I know the basic systems of the school, how things work, where things are, I know most of my students, I know my co-workers, I'm not moving into my house, nor learning a totally new city (as I was last year this time), so I don't think it will be as hard to stay ahead.
This is what I can think of so far, and stuff I've started working on or planning for. Here's to hoping this year is heads and shoulders better than last year.