Each year there is one class that just has the perfect combination of kids who should never be put together, but somehow wound up all the same class. No matter what you accomplished in all your other classes that day, be ready to only get through half of it during period X because that class is 90% management and only 10% teaching.
I've been feeling really stressed about my period X this year because I'm in a new school, so my reputation doesn't precede me here, and I've been feeling like no learning is happening whatsoever. Above all else, I just feel really badly for the few quiet, well-behaved students who don't get an ounce of my attention, as I am putting out fires in every other corner of the room. So today, I decided to celebrate those kids by sending them a quick little email after class. Before the end of the day, I had responses from 3 of the 6 I contacted. Here is my original email:
I teach two classes during the same period this year: Heritage Speakers (13 students) and regular 8th grade Spanish (19 students). I constantly have to find ways to manage teaching two curricula at the same time. Typically I send one group into the hall with independent group while I work with the other group in the room. I run back and forth to check on the hall group, but it's really not ideal and there have been behavior problems. Today was great though and it's all because of the amount of planning I put into thinking about the actual management. I hope this story will help others managing differentiated groups!
Are you constantly filling out forms for the social workers and case managers? If you want to bring up a student for support, you need to have the proper documentation to get the ball rolling. I made this simple form that I use to document everything that goes on in my class: behavior issues, parent interactions, and anything else that I think I should have a record of. When it comes time to meet with a parent or administrator, I can just sort the spreadsheet by that child's name and see all my notes in one spot. It has been super helpful so far!
me because kids feel safer when they know what to expect! Here are 5 things we do every day.
This year we were asked to adopt the idea of Growth Mindset, an idea from Carol Dweck, an author and leading researcher in the field of motivation. The main idea behind growth mindset is that we don't have a fixed intelligence and we can all get better at something if we put in enough work. (I'm trying to get better at blogging and marketing right now!!😉 )This was presented to us during a staff meeting and coupled with the idea of grading. Some of my coworkers and I started talking after the meeting "Does this mean we have to allow unlimited retakes? Won't kids just choose not to study so they can see what's on the test and then ask to do a retake?" There's a lot of sticky questions to navigate, but I thought I'd give it a try in a small way.
The next day I told students I would set a timer for 5 minutes. In those 5 minutes they could use their notes and ask each other for help, but I would not answer any questions. At first, they all panicked and wanted help. I stayed strong and just pointed to the clock. And – miracle of miracles! – they started to read the directions and ask each other for help!!! By the time the buzzer went off, there were only a few questions and they were actually curricular-related as opposed to I-don’t-feel-like-reading-the-directions-myself questions. At the end of class, I made sure to praise my students for working so independently and point out that they just needed a few minutes to allow themselves to think on their own. I think something may have clicked!
What tricks do you use to help kids become more independent and read directions?