Just Keep Swimming…

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So I recently started my new job teaching 6th Grade Math.  And I love it.  After a year of unemployment, I’m grateful to have it, and I’d love it regardless.  But it’s an added bonus that I actually love my job, the content I’m teaching, and the lovely school I’ve ended up at.

That being said… I had the *worst* first day.  Honestly, it wouldn’t have been that bad, except I started the day by spilling tea on my blouse.  My white lace blouse.  That I love.  Oh, and I spilled the tea all over the first day paperwork I had to pass out to my students.  So… yeah.  It was down hill from there.  All those little things that normally wouldn’t have bothered me became mountains instead of mole hills. (Who has ever seen a mole hill, really?  They could be huge for all I know.)

So I got through my day and went home.  Pouty and miserable, my darling boyfriend suggested we go to the pool in our apartment complex.  Once there, he suggests I cannonball into the pool.

Cannonballs into a pool fixes everything.  In case you were wondering.

Since then, I have gone to the pool nearly every day for at least a few minutes.  After 9 years of teaching, I am finally mastering the art of floating, not swimming.  It was only last year I finally gave up the ghost of “Oh-but-I’ll-do-this-while-I-watch-TV-at-home”.  No you won’t.  It’ll sit in your teaching bag right by the door all night, and you’ll just take it back to school in the morning.  Now, thanks to my darling boyfriend and super-cool apartment complex, I can actually unwind each day.

Moral of the story?  Sometimes you need to stop swimming and just soak up the sun. 🙂

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First Day Activities – Nightmare Classroom

I’m 21 years old.  I have just graduated college with my degree in Elementary Education.  It is the evening before school starts.  My very first classroom.  Squee!  Was I making cute bulletin boards?  Or writing names on adorable nametags?  No.  I am sitting on the floor of my classroom with a set of Allen wrenches, putting my student desks together.  I don’t have a chalkboard.  I don’t have desks.  I think I have textbooks in boxes somewhere, but I haven’t seen them yet.  School starts in less than 24 hours.

Still worried about your first day?

Relax.  It won’t be as bad you think.  Middle school and high school classes will be over before you’ve had a chance to go over homework and test procedures.  Elementary, well they are much easier to entertain.  Get yourself an awesome picture book, a getting to know you activity, a game or two, and you’re golden.

If I only get one thing done on my first day of classes, it’s the perfect classroom vs. the nightmare classroom activity.  I use this to develop the classroom procedures and to start behavior expectations with my students.  I have found that my students are often more strict than I am.  It also just makes sense to involve my students in the development of the behavior expectations to which they will be held.  Also, it’s kinda hilarious to see a kid’s idea of a nightmare classroom.

This is a super simple activity.  Tell the students not to write their name on their paper.  Tell them to describe their idea of a nightmare classroom and a ideal classroom.  What does it look like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  What kinds of behaviors will you see?  Tell them to be honest and realistic.  There will not be donuts handed out at the end of class instead of homework, (yes, I really got that as a response once).  No, they can’t have recess or lunch all day.

Give the class ample time to work on both classroom scenarios, and then collect them.  Explain that you will go over them and see what the kids all have in common, and from there you will develop classroom procedures and behavior expectations.  I think you’ll be surprised at the responses you get.

Education World had a great article about developing classroom rules.  Give it a peek here.

Have you tried this approach?  Had success with something else?  Leave a comment!