It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.
The start of a new school year is such a whirlwind of activity and, amidst the stress and headaches of getting going, there is so much to celebrate.
We were blessed last week with weather that was cooler for the first two days of school. Then, this week was hot and humid and gross in the classroom. On Tuesday, the temperature soared into the high 90s and we all melted. But we also plugged away at learning routines and starting to learn content. The rest of the week was only in the high 80s so we survived and only partly melted and kept learning. I am celebrating the fact that we survived this heat!
I have a few students that were big behavioral challenges last year. One in particular was with the Social worker or Psychologist almost every day having some sort of fit in which he refused to enter the classroom. I am so blessed so far this year that this student came into the school year with the idea that he wants to “be good” this year. I have already done a lot of teaching about how the brain can grow and we can get smarter. I think this will be a year of helping this particular boy to really get that. I have a feeling that he is told quite often that he is stupid by other adults in his life. This attitude of starting fresh with a new identity of being good is such a celebration. I am able to get to know this friendly young man and form a relationship with him without an antagonistic twist to it. I know that will help us later in the year if he does have days that he slips up or brings upset with him to school.
In the week we have been at school, we have been able to create a friendly space. There is room for improvement and we will get there, but I have been happy to see my students being kind to each other for the most part. This was not so much the case last year for some of these students, so we are going to continue to work on building our community and working to be kind.
I am looking forward (with a few nervous butterflies) to welcoming two students who are Burmese refugees with very little English to our classroom. There was a glitch with busing so they were not at school for the first week. It will be a new challenge for me to have ESL students who are not Spanish speakers. I know we will be able to figure something out, but I am nervous about communication and helping these girls to find a place in our classroom community. I am celebrating a new opportunity to grow.
In Reading Workshop:
We made Reading Salads (idea comes from Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor) to show how real reading includes both text and thinking. This is the third year I have used this simple concrete way to show this concept and every year the 4th graders love doing it and beg to do it again. We also worked on Stamina and got up to 13 minutes.
We used the Week of Inspirational Math curriculum for the beginning of the school year. I love how the team at Stanford has put together videos about mindsets for learning mathematics. I love the videos because they help students learn about their brain. The challenge activities then reinforce the concepts that students learned and give them a math challenge.
Last, but certainly not least, I have implemented flexible seating in my classroom. It has been an interesting start to the school year, but I think it will be great. We have bean bags and a few end tables for floor seating, we have 4 yoga balls for seats, we have some standing tables, and we have a table with some benches (at some point, I might like to make some crate seats as seen in many articles about flexible seating, but d-i-y is not my strong suit). The rest of the desks have regular chairs.
My biggest celebration this week was the surprise funding of my Donors Choose project which will give us more seating/ desk options. The Herb Kohl Foundation funded ALL of the projects that were up and posted by Wisconsin teachers on Donors Choose. This was a huge surprise to all of us that received the funds. Another teacher in my school had 5 projects posted and every single one of them was funded!!! I am getting 6 wiggle chairs and 4 balance boards for my classroom from this project! I can’t wait to have more options for these kiddos.
What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!