It has already been three weeks since the students returned to school. That alone is a little scary as the school year can fly by in the blink of an eye.
These few weeks have felt good. I’m glad I’m where I am this year. Finding my teacher legs has been interesting. I’ve described it as reaching way back into the far corners of my brain to dust off some cobwebs.
Lesson planning these past few weeks has been the challenging part. Plus, I’ve had to step back to remember it takes a little while for students to get used to being back at school, or in the case of our Kinders, to build their stamina for a full-day of school. High expectations are always present, I just need to provide the necessary supports to reach those expectations. Students have started to know and perform the routines of the day, which means we can get into academic learning quicker. The daily schedule has also been adjusted as I continually evaluate realistic time-frames to complete tasks, such as changing math time and this week, when we do calendar to have even more time for math.
The challenge has been finding the right activities for students to be engaged in while I conduct the beginning of the year assessments—letters, numbers, colors, shapes, reading level, math ability, and writing level. Then, once I know where a student is, creating the best learning experience to begin pushing him or her to the next level so they are ready for the next school year when leaving me. This week I’ll be able to begin guided reading groups based on the DRA2 scores I was able to get this past week through assessments.
Only this week have I felt more confident in lesson planning and it showed in the fact the planning didn’t take as long. Now, gathering or making the necessary materials to go with the learning experience, that still takes time. I’ve also used my mentor texts to help with ideas as I’ve always done as an educator.
The room has come together too. At first it was a little sparse, but ready for students.
It started to fill up with supplies after Meet Your Teacher Day.
And now we have our expectations and Olympic Research Projects hanging for all to see to help it feel more like an environment for learning than just a classroom.
I also have to give a shout out for our school schedule. Students only attend school Monday–Thursday. Teachers essentially have every other Friday off, with the other Friday being a full-day of Professional Development (PD). Having the PD Days has been great as they allow the teachers and staff to learn together, and to have meetings that are usually held before or after school. I’m also finding having a three-day weekend every other week is a nice way to rejuvenate to be ready and fully present for students for the following two weeks. It is a schedule I would highly recommend to any district.
More to come as the year progresses. Let me know how your year has started.