Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts on the upcoming year...

This week I went into school a couple of different days and worked on getting my room setup. Since our high school is used EVERY summer for summer school (although we have FIVE different high schools within our district that could host) we have to pack everything up. This is tough. Everything must come down off the walls and we have little storage space. The only place we can store anything is in a small wardrobe. So getting setup for a new school year can be a lot of work.
what a mess!  End of the first day.
What I have decided is that getting the physical work of my classroom setup was most important this year, in particular. I haven't been feeling well over the past 6 months. So slowly chipping away at my room and doing so in a low stress way was important to me.

I am glad to say that most of the 'heavy lifting' is all done. Posters are up, desks are moved into position, bookshelves filled with books, my desk has all it's supplies inside. There are still some major things to do, like organizing my filing cabinet and getting my AVID stuff setup. But, I am a lot further down the road than in year's past.
I am really lucky to have two great windows in my room.  This year I have moved my desk to the back a little further.  My goal is go give the kids more prime real estate in the classroom.  
It is important this year because part of the problem I'm having health wise is managing stress and dealing with extreme fatigue. Over the past month I have made a lot of progress, but the school year's first day (8-16 for teachers, 8-23 for kids) is ominous. It was my hope at the beginning of the summer that I would be coming back to school fully healed. Now I realize that it is going to be a long term process. I will probably not be 100% myself for nine to twelve months. It is going to have to be a more different school year than I have ever taught before.

My schedule is really interesting. I have the first two periods for planning/conference. Then I teach the remainder of the day. This worries me greatly because the stress of teaching five straight periods without a break is going to wear me down. But, I have to keep the faith in the diet, vitamins and supplements I am taking. I also have to be sure to get to bed very early and get as much rest as possible.
Because of the influence of reading TLAC I have realized that grouping my desks by twos works for me best.  This gives me the opportunity to 'shoulder' every student as they are working.  I can walk around the room and get a much better feel for how they are working.  In the past I have had desks grouped in threes and sometimes positioned against a wall or side board.  This is going to be very liberating.  And I believe much more comfortable for my students.
I can do it. But it is going to mean really taking the next step in my development as a teacher. This year I will have to develop more student centered learning situations. Situations where I am not the "sage on the stage." Learning situations where the students are doing the heavy lifting and I am supervising. There is no doubt I am ready to accomplish this next step. What is going to make it work is a very strong beginning to the school year. It will be essential to create a climate in the classroom where students are on board and trust what we are trying to do.
Very excited to make my room much more functional and much more comfortable for learning.
About two weeks ago I was petrified at the prospects of starting this year. I am beginning to see a path forward though and I do believe strongly that I can get this done. Hopefully in the process I can become an even better classroom manager and teacher than before.

One of the cool things I am working on for our school is this sign:

We are going to post them in our faculty mail room (we have over 200 mail slots!) and in our 4 teacher work rooms in each of our learning communities.  The idea is that teachers can tap the sign - or just simply be reminded of the spirit we had this summer during our professional development.  I very much enjoyed doing the PD on Teach Like a Champion and I hope it had an impact on some of my colleagues.  Using some of the techniques in the book, I hope to become better and more efficient in the classroom this year.

A few more pics of my classroom:

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Love it David! Hang in there! It will be an AWESOME year!! Love the "shoulder" idea of the desks in twos, and the poster looks SUPER!! Have a great year!

  2. Thanks Kim. Hope you have a great year as well.

  3. I like your room set-up. Much better than just rows of desks, which I really dislike. Yes, you should get away from the sage on the stage method of teaching. The kids don't like it and it just saps your energy. My philosophy is the kids need to be working harder than the teacher. In the first few weeks, that is hard to do because you have to lay out all the material they need to use, but afterwards, let them do the heavy lifting. That's the sign of a real champion teacher.

  4. Thanks dkzody. I agree with you except one thing, at my school the kids LOVE the sage on the stage. They would much rather have me up there teaching and entertaining than doing something else. But, I have to realize my limitations.

    This year I am going to save those "performances" for the most needed parts of what we are studying. And the students will break down and perform for other sections of what we do. The key for me is figuring out what I am willing to give up to the students for their processing.

    I have heard it over and over from people that the kids should be more tired at the end of the day than the teacher. It sounds really good on paper, but we'll see what can happen in reality. One thing is for sure, I am going to be measuring their learning and adapting as needed.

  5. This was a GREAT post. I love the set up of the new room. Every time I see pictures of your room, I am reminded that I need to post more college "stuff" in my classroom. The pennants are simply amazing. And I love what Norma did in her room. . . posting the college letters. I wish I had more seniors. *sigh*

    And you know I love the idea of student centered learning. Making them work for the content instead of being the sage on the stage! I increased this last year and the kids said I worked them too hard. This year, I am tripling it. So, imagine the complaints, but they always come back "grateful" for what they learned.

    Is it too late to ask for a schedule change due to your medical condition? I know you probably don't want to be a bother but you've got to think about yourself right now.

  6. Thanks Miss Teacha :)

    It is probably not something that they can do anything about with the schedule. I found out that I will have my room to myself 1st period, which is awesome. There is a spanish class in there second period. Having a chance to come in and get prepared (to work on AVID stuff when I need to) and get ready for the day 1st period will be great. I love being in there in the morning with the light coming through the windows as it rises in the east, which my window view points to. It is actually beautiful.

    The day is a long haul with 5 straight classes, but AVID is very flexible. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there is tutoring for 45 minutes. And although I have to walk around and monitor and put out fires, I'm not standing up lecturing and it is going to be a lot easier with junior and senior AVID students. They know what they are doing now. :)

    Thanks for the compliments about the room. Can't wait to have it all finished this week. I bought a lamp that I am going to use when I am using the projector for some extra light.


Pick up a sharpie and write on The Wall.