Thanks to all of you who posted your “Not Waiting for a New (School) Year” resolutions on the blog, yGroup, or Facebook! I really enjoyed reading about the things you’re going to try to do differently. Like it or not, we’re only halfway through this school year, which means there are plenty of opportunities to fix things that aren’t working and experiment with anything you’d like to improve. Here are your ideas:
Halpey: “My resolution is to be a little more organized. I’m finding the chaos of kindergarten making it hard to stay focused and organized.” That’s definitely a challenge with the little ones–all those manipulatives and materials! Hopefully you’re finding some ideas in my book. Let me know if you need more ideas.
The Tabbs: “My resolution is to get my kids to come in from recess, at the same time, looking like an organized group, rather than a herd of elephants :)” This is a totally worthwhile resolution. I explain to kids how much it wastes class time when they take forever to line up and quiet down. If they don’t run to the line and stand facing forward right away, I tell them I’m ending recess 2 minutes earlier the next day. When they line up the next day and see that the other classes are still playing, the problem is usually fixed! If there’s only 2 or 3 kids who come late, I blow the whistle early just for them. I’ve found that making a big deal out of this once or twice sets the precedent so you don’t have to be so drill-sargeanty later on.
Tnswthart: “I posted last year and said I wanted to focus more on individualized learning. I can thankfully say we are doing that. It is time consuming but I have seen better progress. This year, I want to focus on training my para pros better. I rely on them a lot and expect alot however, I have come to realize they can’t read my mind… duh! To make the function of the learning lab, and my students I need to focus on the the staff.” So cool to hear that you’ve kept your 2009 resolution! Helping your paras is a great 2010 goal that will impact the students at your school for years to come.
mirna_mv: “My resolution is to find a way to motivate my 7th and 8th grade Math Classes. I want to add to the drab lessons and find other activities that will keep them loving Math.” Ahh, motivating middle schoolers–so difficult but totally worth the extra effort! Hopefully you can incorporate lots of hands-on activities and projects. Asking for their input will help, too.
Becky N.: “We just changed the way we usually do the reading homework. Previously it was a reading comprehension worksheet each week. Starting Jan 2010 we are giving our 4th graders a monthly book study. There are 3 parts – they have to write a report (using a given format) on the book they chose, write 8 questions for the author, and design an alternative book cover. We are thinking of tying it in to a presentation where each student can speak about the book they read. It is a little ‘new’ and the students need support in choosing an appropriate book…but they seem excited. Also, no more weekly reading homework to check! ;-)” I love the idea of the book study! So meaningful for the kids, and ultimately less work for you. Let us know how it goes.
Julie: “I could say that my resolution is to survive since I’m a first year teacher and overwhelming is my middle name. But I’ll be a bit more specific. I made a notebook for Interventions where kids who are receiving extra help have a divider with pockets. I put charts and things to track their progress behind the divider and any notes, etc in the pocket. I also plan on making a chart so that when I meet with a small group I can write ’30 mins, math remediation, addition with regrouping’ to show exactly what I went over with students. I’m learning that documentation is essential (thanks to the book for some great ideas!).” You’re very welcome! Yes, documentation is the name of the game. I love the notebook idea. It’s going to make you feel like you’ve got everything covered.
Stacy: “I have noticed that my afternoon class (which is much younger than my morning class) is easily distracted by things surrounding our group time area (book shelf, computer table, garbage can) and that a lot of them have a hard time handling a group larger than 10 for calendar time. Before the break my assistant and I rearranged our room and eliminated the distractions around our group time area and we are going to experiment with splitting the class into 2 smaller groups (one for pre-k and one for 3s) to do calendar time. If it works well this year, we will continue it next year!” It’s amazing how big of a different room rearrangement can make. I like the idea of doing two calendar times, also. You can really gear instruction toward the kids’ developmental needs, which will take care of most of your behavior problems. Awesome!
Amber Romanczak Stasio: “We reorganized current worksheets and handouts into a large, colorful accordion folder instead of in the file cabinet – more accessible, and it was neat, the kids were eager to see what I had in the brightly colored file! Had maintenance bring a 7′ metal cabinet into the class for art supply storage instead of bookshelf, and decorated the outside of it with the students’ pictures form the Candy Cane ball, looks adorable!” I hate file cabinets–accordian files, magazine holders, and plastic drawers make it SO much easier to find things! (You can see how I organize papers here.) I think you’re going to love the new system. Make sure you have a system set up for filing things away so they don’t pile up.
Angela McAllister: “…So my resolution is to accept what I cannot change and try my best to make this as meaningful as possible for my kids. I want to be the me that I was then…I taught, planned lessons, had conferences with parents, graded papers, got materials ready…All my time was spent FOR THE KIDS!! Now, I am doing paperwork, inservice, meetings for all these committees that have to be done to say you are doing something to improve the school…most of what I do is FOR SOME OTHER REASON that doesn’t relate to kids. I am a hard worker, and I am usually the last one to leave long after school is up. But let it be for the kids…” I appreciate the time you put into sharing your frustrations on Facebook. Although I condensed your ideas here, I definitely feel your pain. Once you lose sight of what the kids, frustration and burn-out set in. Good for you–you’re recognizing the problem and actively trying to change it. Hang in there.
Gaye Healy: “I have decided to reclaim my lunchtime! Last term I spent too many lunchtimes in the computer room sourcing info or doing paperwork instead of spending that precious half hour with my friends and colleagues relaxing and chatting! I deserve that half hour to be work free so I am claiming it back ;-). As part of that resolution though comes the added resolution of making sure I have my lunch made every night :-(( because we don’t have canteens here!!” I can’t live without my duty-free lunch! I NEED that time to recharge. I think you’ll find that after even a 20 minute lunch break, you’ll be more patient and energetic. Good luck!
Founder and Writer
If you are a teacher who is interested in contributing to the Truth for Teachers website, please click here for more information.