Year 2 Classroom Tour and Teaching Goals

Yesterday was officially our first day back to school! It was a great day and I have a good feeling about this school year. I wanted to share with y’all a tour of my classroom as well as my goals for this year.

I set up my desks a little differently this year, and there is truly no bad seat in the room. I went for the more flexible seating, providing a variety of choices for the students, which will also help when the students are working on different things in a unit and need different types of help.

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I divided my left whiteboard with washi tape for areas like Announcements, Agenda, Homework, and Standards/Essential Questions. I kept my right whiteboard open for if I need to write directions or note take with the students (this board is easier to see for most of the room).

Above the whiteboards, I printed our geography standards on orange paper to add another pop of color but also to make the standards transparent to the students. Plus, it makes it easier to reference them when all you have to do is point at them.

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Next to my whiteboard is my only bulletin board in the room. I used a world map as the backdrop and put some of the postcards I’ve collected from my travels above it. Eventually, I would like to make the map more interactive as we go through the regions in the class. At the bottom of the bulletin board, I’ve tacked on things the students would need to reference.

I was excited to have a teacher desk be moved and have this table available for use. I decided to make it more of a student center where they will turn in their work, collect missing work, and access any supplies they might need.

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This “Were You Absent?” binder comes from Eat. Write. Teach. I’ve used it in the past and it seems to work! Plus, I love the binder I put it in this year 🙂

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Instead of making another big poster and cluttering up my walls, I decided to make this little sign next to the turn in trays for things the students can do if they finish early.

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Under the front table there is a set of drawers. In those drawers are supplies the students can access and use like calculators, erasers, notecards, clip boards, band-aids, etc.

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Next to the door I keep important documents like the schedule, grading scale, and classroom expectations so they are easy to access. This year I also decided to put a small whiteboard next to the door to have students sign out on when they leave the room.

P.S. I love my little chalkboard signs!

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On the other side behind the door, I put hung out folders for exit slips. These are to rate their understanding of the content for the day. I don’t do these slips every day but I try to do them a couple of times in each unit.

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I set up my teacher area a little different this year. The desk was switched out and I added the document camera cart, which freed up space on my desk because the printer is on top of the cart. I put the recycling bin behind my desk to avoid students putting food wrappers in there. I also put a student desk at the end of my teacher desk for when we do student conferences.

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This is behind my desk. I really like how this is set up compared to last year. I feel like I have more surface space. Also, I’m still in love with that map!!

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This last area is a space I was more excited to incorporate. I wanted to make it feel more homey in my room so I purchased two bungee chairs, a couple of throw pillows, and a small rug to create a lounge/reading space. The green ottomans were part of the room last year but felt out of place by themselves. Yesterday, the kiddos were really excited to know they could sit in them 🙂

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The cabinet behind the chair is also an area where the students can access. It holds extra supplies for them if they need it, art supplies for projects, and books for them to borrow and read. And the cabinet is easy to access with just a scooch of the chair.

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I am very happy with how my room turned out! I definitely want to be in there doing work and I’m excited to share the space with my students this year!

Speaking of work, here are my teaching goals for this year:

  1. Stay firm and consistent in my classroom management
  2. Incorporate more engaging and collaborative activities in my lessons
  3. Contact every parent before Open House (which is some time in September)
  4. Have all copies and presentations done by the Friday before
  5. Keep working at home to only one night a week and don’t stay later than 5 pm any day – this means utilizing every planning minute before and after school and during my prep period
  6. Update grade book weekly
  7. Do more checks for understandings and conferences to catch issues early on
  8. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to other team members

But most importantly… enjoy the school year, get to know the students, and continue to grow!

Questions for You:
How do you decorate your classroom?
What are your non-negotiables?
What are your goals for this school year?

Charleston Educator Symposium Recap

Whoever says teachers are lucky because they get the whole summer off from work are partially wrong. Yes, we do have more flexibility during the summer to take time for ourselves. However, teachers also spend their summers working with students, building curriculum, and participating in professional development opportunities. This is something I did the week after we got out of school; I participated in the 3-day Charleston Educator Symposium.

Day 1 began with an amazing performance by a student orchestra, including the song “All-Star” by Smash Mouth! Then we had Paul Gorski as our keynote speaker. Unfortunately, he was unable to be there in person so thank goodness for Skype so we were able to still learn from him in regards to his work with educational inequality and social justice.

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Throughout the symposium, I decided to attend sessions that focused on areas I felt needed some improvement.

After the keynote Day 1, I attended a session regarding rigor and proficiency scales (Hello Personalized Learning!) that was presented by my fellow colleagues. It helped in my understanding of how to use proficiency scales to determine rigor and will be beneficial when I attended the other workshop I signed up for later in July.

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The other session I attended during Day 1 focused on virtual field trips and the many avenues to show students the world while not leaving the classroom. This is great for a teacher like me who feels getting funding or even the opportunity for my students to see the world would be difficult.

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Day 2 started out great with a performance from a student color guard as well as an excellent keynote from Cris Tovani, who discussed literacy labs and how to increase student engagement.

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The theme of technology and engagement continued into Day 2. The first session I went to added a bunch of tech tools to my arsenal, giving me many ideas to engage my students with their 1:1 technology.

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I also participated in a session led by Sue Andelin that provided strategies to improve student engagement. It was a very interactive session where she used the strategies on us while we were learning about them!

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The last day of the symposium began with an adorable performance by a children’s chorus then Shanna Peeples, the 2015 national teacher of the year, gave my favorite keynote speech of the week. She spoke using her own life stories to address different topics, focusing on innovation. My favorite quote from her was “Teachers are artists of human potential” and I couldn’t agree more!

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Day 3 was packed with sessions. I attended another technology session that recapped some of the tools I learned about the day prior but explained different ways to use them and also introduced additional new ones.

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My second session was regarding strategies for improving student comprehension in reading. It was probably my least favorite session because it provided many strategies and a lot of research but not really any concrete examples of how to use them.

For last session of the symposium, I originally picked something else, but after hearing Shanna‘s keynote speech, I changed it so I was able to attend her afternoon session. It was great of her to share ideas she used with her students to build relationships and gain that trust, something we worked really hard towards in my school. It was a session targeted towards getting the students to think more critically, using philosophical questions.

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I also found out on the last day that I won a pair of Southwest round trip flights for all of my posts about the symposium on Twitter and Instagram! That was really cool because I was just sharing my thoughts about my experience, which I do any way. 🙂 (#spelledmylastnamewrong)

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I learned so much from the symposium and have many new tools to incorporate this coming school year. I look forward to attending this symposium in future years and I hope other teachers find opportunities like this one to become even better educators and continue being lifelong learners!

Questions for you:
If you are a teacher, how do you continue your professional development throughout the summer?

Teacher Talk {8/7}

Yay it’s Friday! It’s actually felt like a pretty fast-moving week despite being in some sort of training since Tuesday.

Speaking of training, that is what I would like to talk about today in Teacher Talk. I am thinking about making these “Teacher Talk” posts a Tuesday theme. What do you think?

For the past two and half days, I have been a part of a training called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” (click the link for a more detailed explanation of the program).

Capturing Kids' Hearts

This is a training that was required for all of us new employees to partake in. CKH is a program that our entire school uses and correlates well with Personalized Learning, another concept that the school has implemented. Both programs are about building a positive classroom climate and culture, instilling student ownership, and working towards mastery. Even though this training was mandatory, it never felt that way and I learned SO, SO much during the process!

Here are the top things I gained from this process:

–I am working with an amazing school and supportive staff! These past couple of days has allowed me to build connections with other new employees and experience how we are all in this together.

–The EXCEL model is crucial to making my classroom work well: Engage, Xplore, Communicate, Empower, Launch.

–There are a lot of components and steps through the process, they take time, and both the students and I will make mistakes.

–CKH deals not only with relationships in the classroom, but my personal relationships too.

–I need to relinquish some of my control, both in my classroom and at home.

–Open-ended questions are important in communication, especially with being a good listener.

–There are stages to growing each group: security takes time and every group is different.

–When security and relational capacity increase, anxiety decreases, which leads to increased performance.

–To personally grow, you need to self-assess, self-control, and self-direct; you also can’t grow without feedback and accountability.

–When this process is set into action and used consistently, the teaching of content and everything else will fall into place.

I am very excited to implement this process into my classroom and my home. I can’t wait to see how I grow as a teacher and as a person!

One of my favorite parts of the training was the giving and receiving of affirmations. It felt so empowering to make people feel good about themselves and also hear about how you have positively impacted others! This is something we are to include our classrooms for our students. So, at the training we did both verbal and written affirmations. At the end of the training, we collected a paper bag we had decorated with our name and adjective that was filled with written affirmations from other trainees. And let me just say, it felt AMAZING to hear all the positive words other had to say about me. It made me feel like I made a difference (the whole reason I’m in teaching) 🙂

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If you have any questions about Capturing Kids’ Hearts, I will be happy to try and answer them 🙂

Have a great weekend!!