My first week of teaching is over and done, and I have to say that I feel really good about how things went. My new students and I have hit it off great so far. I consider myself very blessed to be able to care for and teach such a delightful group of young people.
At the beginning of the week, I had all my students write letters to me. They could tell me anything they would like to tell me about themselves, from how they are feeling about having me as their new teacher, to their extra-curricular schedule, to seating plan preferences. I received some great letters, and am currently still in the process of responding to them all. Overall, the letters have been very informative, and I think it’s a good way to begin building rapport with my students.
The highlight of my week was probably getting my “Literacy Cafe” up and running. In one corner of my room, I tried to create a “cafe” setting, with a couch, a little table, and some cool artwork. Every Friday, a handful of students get to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows as they do a special literacy activity. The activity I have prepared for the first round of Literacy Cafe revolves around the origin of chocolate. The Literacy Cafe went over really well in week one. I was so delighted to see how much the students enjoyed it, and how well they were able to follow the activity through, without needing much teacher assistance. When I initially told the students about my idea for the Literacy Cafe at the beginning of the week, one student piped up, “Actually, can we make it a literacy pub, so we can drink beer?” While I am open to suggestions, I quickly vetoed this one.
I am blessed with the opportunity to work in a very well resourced school, where all of the classrooms have Mimeo boards. I havn’t quite tapped into the full potential of the Mimeo, but it is pretty much like a tv that functions similar to a Smart board. Lucky for me, there are several boys in my class were ultra-keen to get my Mimeo up and running this week. They were emailing back and forth with the tech person at our school, and arranging meetings with her all on their own, so they could iron out the kinks. I was quite impressed with the autonomy and initiative these students showed, and also thankful that I have my very own tech crew within the classroom!
Something I will begin this coming week is a mini “awards ceremony” that will happen at the end of each week. Three mini trophies will be awarded for the categories of “leadership”, “virtue embodiment” (living out our pre-determined class virtues), and “outstanding academic success”. Students who win these trophies get to display them on their desks and also earn spots on the class couch for the following week.
I also start each day with a “Glowplug.” Brendon helped me come up with the name for this activity, through which we kick off our day with a question or problem that will get our minds working first thing in the morning. A timer is started, and for five minutes, students work quietly and independently on answering the glowplug question, which could be in any subject area. So far it’s a routine that has worked really well, and made for a quiet, focused start to the day.
After an awesome first week with no major glitches or problems, I would say that things are off to a fantastic start in my classroom. I am trying to not let myself get overwhelmed with everything that there is to do or think about as a new teacher. I definitely take comfort in that feeling of being “ahead” in my planning and duties as a teacher, so it’s a challenge for me to rest when I feel that there is just so much to do. I need to recognize that it will probably take me a little while to get “ahead” in my planning and all that, when there is so much that I am learning about everyday, especially with being part of a new school with expectations and curriculum that are quite different from what I have previously known.