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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We are slowly becoming a team.

Today was perhaps a bit messier than yesterday, but we are starting to get routines down. After only two days, I have kids starting to make my "quiet down" hand signal if the class gets too loud - even before I do! (And this signal is strange and one I have never seen before. I think I have an aversion to the "give me 5" hand signal left over from student teaching. It didn't work for me then (though it was my fault, and not the fault of the hand signal.) I "invented" this on the spot yesterday when I wanted them to quiet down. They basically raise a hand and wiggle their fingers around. If nothing else, it looks funny. Since I chose it, I need to follow through now and make sure they all quiet down when they see the wiggly fingers.

I also seem to be training them on the idea that we are a team working together to learn. We were doing an activity and a few kids kept saying "I win!" I stopped the class and reminded them that we are working together. We are a team and we want everyone to learn and everyone to succeed, so there are no "winners" or "losers" in our class. Later in the day, I heard one student correct another after he had announced himself the winner of something. "We are a team," she said. "There are no winners. We work together." So, at least one of them is understanding that idea.

I haven't forgotten to go to anything, and I haven't been overly late for specials/lunch/the final bell, yet. That was a big problem for me when I was student teaching, so I am being careful to leave a good amount of time to line up and get places. As the class and I figure out how everything works, hopefully I won't have to allot quite so much time, but I am happy with the fact that I am arrive places on time and not rushing to get them out the door when the bell rings.

This week already, we have to begin grade-level and standardized assessments, both of which are done one-on-one. I have never given any of these, but tomorrow I will begin to try. Hopefully I don't screw it up too much. Some of these assessments I am excited to see the results of, though. These students seem to be much stronger academically than I was expecting, based upon my experiences while student teaching. Once I give the tests, I'll see where the kids really are, but I keep accidentally introducing concepts that I wasn't planning on talking about, because the kids bring it up themselves (not necessarily on purpose). We talked about compound words and punctuation today - because the kids noticed these things! I keep being pleasantly amazed at what they are doing.

As I work more and more with these kids, I get more and more worried about the kids at the school I was student teaching at. While the community where I student taught is very different than where I am working now (a small town with a concentrated minority of Hispanic families vs. a large city with a very high percentage of Hispanic families), the families are somewhat similar (mostly children born in the US whose parents were born in Mexico). And while, from reading that book by Ruby Payne I would be led to think that all of my students (or rather, those 90% or so who live in "poverty") live in dysfunctional families, all the parents/aunts/babysitters/adult-type-people who I have met seem to be kind, caring, and supportive. (Which is what I would expect, having formed ideas about human beings before reading that book. And at the same time, I'm not naive enough to believe that all of them are living perfect lives - I know that many of them have their fair share of problems, and then some.)

My goal for the next week is to actually plan ahead, so I don't stay at school until they kick me out, and then go to the library to work until the library closes, and then come home and work a little more. I've been writing my lesson plans out step by excruciating step. Already though, tomorrow's plan is about half the length of Monday's, so give me a few more days and maybe I'll be able to crank a lesson plan out in only a few short hours, instead of many, many hours.


OpenID onteaching said...

I was always late to lunch, recess, etc. Ugh. (I like high school, with nice, loud bells telling me when to let the kids take themselves where they need to be.

Lesson planning gets easier (you learn to trust yourself, so you don't feel the need to write down each tiny little detail), but you need to give yourself a deadline to go home - because there's always something else to do... don't let yourself live at school!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

I spent too long at school yesterday, today I left earlier. However, yesterday I left with the next day almost entirely planned. Today I left with barely any of tomorrow planned. So I don't know which is the better way to do it.

10:08 PM  

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