As August is winding down my mind is now shifting to getting ready for back to school. Thinking about how I will set up my classroom this year. Every year I change a few things based on what I learned the previous year. Asking what worked and what didn’t and why is a very important task. How can we grow as teachers if we are not willing to work on improving and this, in my opinion, starts with some personal reflection. Here are my glows, grows and where to goes for the upcoming year.
- Inquiry: in science and social studies but especially in language. I just couldn’t believe how much my students learned and developed as writers by using this approach. Organizing them into inquiry writing centers really helped too.
- Math: still a big fan of this always happening in the morning. Continue to use my morning math pages to frame our three part lessons and give differentiated ways to support students in developing math skills.
- Mentor Paragraphs/Sentences: these were great during our literacy centers as a way for student to practice editing and proof reading skills. I noticed a drastic improvement in many students in this area which transferred to their own writing skills.
- Technology: Using technology as an accessible tool with a BYOD philosophy was important. This allowed for google classroom, explain everything and other apps to be seamlessly integrated into our day. The students capacity for innovative thoughts and actions surrounding technology was important.
- Independence: with such a large class I didn’t have time to see all of my students as frequently as I would have liked. This had some negative consequences for students who needed more hand holding or anxiety however for many this allowed them to learn to rely on themselves and increased their autonomy and independence in learning which will ultimately benefit them later.
- Parents: I have to be honest this is the one area that fell apart for me last year. As I felt I was growing leaps and bounds in my pedagogy and instructional practices parents were simply left behind. Add to this a work to rule situation between the teacher union and the government and my hands were tied as to my normal pathways to communication. Parents were left to feel in the dark about what was happening in the classroom. Used to a traditional model of instructional delivery we were just not on the same page. Add to that a large class of 36 students and 36 sets of parents all clamoring for attention and information and I was easily overwhelmed with delivering this to them in a timely manner. This is one area that I will attempt to improve upon for the upcoming year.
- Reading: With my focus on writing this year my reading instruction just wasn’t on par or to my satisfaction. This is a change since a few years ago it was the opposite. I liked many things, I loved the books we read (Fish in a Tree) and I loved this discussions that we had about this book and others. However the students ability to respond to reading and independently analyze different elements in a text through writing lacked the growth that I was seeing in other areas. To combat this I will be going back to reflective journaling about the stories that we read. Students will write their reflections to stories that we are reading together and to stories that they are reading independently. As I ponder the format of this in the next week or so I will of course share what I will be doing.
- Word Work and Spelling – I tried to use words their way. I just didn’t like them. They were too separate from what we were learning about they were too prescribed. However I did love the diagnostic assessment for spelling that was part of this series of lessons however I will be making my own lessons and word sorts for students based on the books that we are reading together. Some of these are already done in my mentor text and word work centers files on TPT however I didn’t have time to continue the series throughout the year. However using this from the beginning of last year helped me to really focus on different spelling skills so I will continue to use this again.
Where to Goes…
- Flexible Seating: I have use a flexible seating model in the sense that student can always sit during independent work time where they are comfortable. However this year I am going to be searching for alternative seating opportunities for students to use. Looking for bath mats, bench with pillows for reading area, yoga balls, scoop chairs, other chairs for flexible group work.
- Digital Resources – I will try to reduce my paper consumption in the classroom (less photocopying) by using digital resources more and photocopies less.