Finally here. These last three weeks have been amazing at MTC summer school round 2. I remember why I’m here and why I want to be a teacher and educate. They have made me realize just how much I have grown AND that I haven’t stopped. The first years were an inspiration to the days of old-their bright eyes and insightful comments brought back to me that fresh take I had a year ago stepping foot onto Mississippi. The second years have been like family: supportive, fun, annoying at times, and full of love. The team teachers have shown me that even with the confidence and composure I may project in the halls and the classroom, I still lack those lightning fast reflexes and the god-like forethought to craft a perfect lesson.
As I lesson planned for new days, slightly similar topics this time around, I looked back at my first lessons and laughed at just how awful the students must have thought I was. I see so many similarities between myself and the first years in how I crafted my lessons and how I projected my teacher presence a year ago. They fall into the same traps the kids lure them into; they don’t plan thoroughly and overly; they have no idea of time management; they talk way too much; they don’t know how to talk with kids; they don’t know how to get 100% of the class on task; they don’t, they don’t, they don’t. They do, however, know how to ask for help (at this point), take feedback constructively, and try to implement advice in their subsequent lessons. They, as a whole, are excited and willing to be here, doing this. No matter the criticism, that to me means a lot.
This summer school has also inspired me to gather resources and plan hard for next year. Will there be no more midnight planning on a wednesdays this year? Perhaps. Will I have a pacing guide and several units flushed out and planned? YES! I’ve been deciding what kinds of things I like in my teaching and what things need the axe, as well as scouring for fresh ideas I’ve gotten from my colleagues this summer. It’s a wonderful feeling when you have (what are we down to now?)…23 like minded folks who have “been there, done that” in their first year, and are equally as excited to “try this new thing” for next year. If anything, I have a solid management plan for next year that brings a chance for students to redeem themselves within the day AND I have the confidence to implement brand new procedures that I believe in this second time around.
Here’s to next year family! We have never been better as we are right now.
I was so happy to attend the Mississippi Teacher Corps workshops last week on organization, dealing with administration, and the first days of school. The organization workshop stood out to me as beyond just organization into a principle that I realize I must embody in order to make it past my first year as a teacher.
“Students love to hand you things…” Something I have become acutely aware of even with the limited amount of assignments that I’ve doled out this summer, thanks for the obvious! Well, I take them and then I hold onto them and from that point on it is up to your imagination what happens to them. But what do I do with these things they hand to me? AHHH! “Only accept what you need from students…” Really? Well I suppose…That works I guess, but I will still lose said materials, “…and do not touch it, make them put it in a bin.” What??? MAKE THEM put it in a bin? So, you’re saying I can tell my students what to do? Blasphemy!…no…wait, BRILLIANT!
I’m in no way making light of this advice. This is actually, word for word, what my internal dialogue was during the first two minutes of the workshop. Needless to explain further: my mind was blown!
You’re telling me that I can actually make my students do something which I would rather not do for them? Passing out papers, taking attendance, collecting assignments, grading tests, leading a line, cleaning the room, organizing a file cabinet, etc. etc. these can be lead by a student? Wahh?
This is awesome! So, to put it into a consumable piece of advice: Make students do the work—your work, or what you think is your work. Because: students love to work.
The entire concept applies to almost everything I, as a teacher, will be doing in my classroom related to management. This means jobs and procedures that students are in charge of, act out, and are happy to do it.
However, before I start streaming netflix from my school provided smart board while my “teacher for the day” A++ student teachers my lesson on the hierarchy of the universe, there is a ton of planning and front loading on my part to do. I need to organize and command my classroom so that I am able to have students do the work. I need to create an atmosphere of efficiency that goes beyond what they do and see. I need to organize everything in my room and have a procedure for its use. After I have this procedure down pat and the students know how it works, months into the year, at that point I can elect my best and most challenging students to do the important work for me.
This concept, or maybe it’s a principal or a law that an efficient teacher uses, is hinged on the idea of managing for energy. You must think about how much energy it will take to do a specific task for one class period, 30 times, then times it by how many class periods you teach. Essentially, you’re looking at doing ONE specific task 180 or more times per day and that could be as simple as passing out papers for the day. Simply put: make a student do it.
Overall, I am going to plan for getting my students involved in my classroom environment by making them do the work for me. Students like to do work for you. When you let a student do something, that shows them that you trust them and that you believe they are capable. Again, this is a win-win: I create a classroom that is supportive of my students and values all of their abilities by ensuring my trust in them AND it saves me a load of energy and time, plus this means more instructional time and more time that I can spend helping my students learn the material, rather than passing it out and collecting it for them—I can do what I wanted to do when I wanted to become a teacher!!
Oh, by the way: See that trash can without a lid on it? You want to throw some crumpled up paper in it and pretend it’s a basketball and that you are LeBron James throwing the three pointer that will win the game, don’t you? *BOOM*(puts a lid on the top) Not anymore. Muahaha…Now, go over there and gently put your trash in it, ok, now return to your seat. :D