Week in Review, Classroom Reveal + Giveaway Form!

I made it! Survived my first week at my new job, with my new kids, in my new position, at my new school! It's honestly, a miracle. I didn't think I'd survive the DAY let alone the week. But, life is full of miracles I s'pose

We didn't actually start school until Wednesday, when the kids arrived. Maybe it's not such a miracle...it was only 3 days. But still...considering how my week started...

I was not able to get into my building this last weekend. I had SO.MUCH.TO.DO and had to put everything on hold. Of course, the things I needed to do HAD to be done in the building (ya know, like decorating...) so I was forced to wait until Tuesday. Which sucked. Tuesday was FULL of meetings...a'int no body got time for that the day before school!!! How have they not realized this yet?!

Needless to say, Tuesday I was running around like a mad-woman, and ended up staying at work until 8 pm getting everything together. At least, attempting to get everything I needed for the first day, and pushing other, less pertinent things aside for later. I left Tuesday night, feeling good better okay about the first day of school. I arrived the next morning 2 hours early to ease my anxiety about getting more stuff done. Surprisingly, this didn't help my anxiety at all.

Wednesday was the longest day of my life, and it was a half day. Being a TLP teacher (Therapeutic Learning Program teacher), I have a sub-separate classroom and "push in" my students in our inclusion model whenever possible. Well...I don't really know what that is supposed to look like, nor was I sure how to schedule my day with a classroom of both first and second graders. I have always been secure in my ability to differentiate instruction for my students, regardless of their abilities or grade level. However, for some reason, this year feels different. It doesn't feel as "clear cut" as years past in my former school. I also didn't even know what the school schedule was (time blocks, lunch time, DISMISSAL). Admittedly, I could have easily remedied this by asking my principal, but in the moment, I was not thinking clearly. My para also failed to tell me, basically ANYTHING, though she had been there for 5+ years. So, instead of stopping my instruction for snack time, which I didn't know we had built in, my para just let me keep on yapping, while my kiddos grumbling tummies echoed in our classroom. Finally, after my 3rd behavioral incident, my para recommended we "let them eat". Um, what? Should I have known that my firsties should eat mid-morning? Maybe. Did I? No. Would it have been helpful to have any information about the school before the first day? You betcha! Similarly, because I didn't even know the "time line" of the day, I had NO concrete plans for the day. I like to keep things as consistent as possible, even though our academic curricula isn't starting until next week. I like to have math activities during the math block time that would match the math block time for the rest of the school year. Except I couldn't do that, because I didn't know how to form my schedule, while incorporating inclusion throughout the day. These are all skills that I will gain with time, however, feeling unprepared and confused on the first day of school isn't a great feeling to have.

Wednesday ended and I cried. I was so overwhelmed. I was so confused. I realized I don't even know what my position is. I don't know anyone yet, so I felt funny asking my colleagues about my job description, because, I feel that I should probably know that before accepting a position. Needless to say, the tears were flooding out of my eyes around 2:30. I was alone in my classroom (thank goodness), and I honestly considered crawling underneath my desk and sobbing. I called my husband, who texted me during the day to ask about my day. I cried to him. I knew he was floored by my reaction; expecting me to be singing praises of my class, the public school system, and my teaching abilities. However, despite his confusion, he was able to provide me with some sound and helpful advice. He was honest and constructive, which is what I needed. I didn't need babying. I need some real advice. I needed to be told: Suck it up - it's the first day. It's overwhelming, and yes, it doesn't feel good to be confused and lost on your first day, but you'll get used to it. You aren't the only one who has had a first day before, and you won't be the last. Learn from this and you will be able to give other new teachers this advice some day too. You don't know when lunch is? Ask! Don't expect that everyone is thinking "Oh no! I have to tell Mrs. Wallace about every little detail about the day, even though I have an entire school of teachers and children to worry about as well". Don't beat yourself up for a crummy first day. Did the kids think it was bad? Did you principal? Oh..just you? Okay then, shut up.

This was more or less the conversation we had. And somehow I felt better. I wiped away my self-deprecating tears, took out my plan book, and started preparing for the next day. Since that afternoon, I developed a tentative schedule, keeping in mind that things may and probably will change. I've decided on certain routines I want to teach for the school year, and planned how I am going to do so. I have started asking questions and taking advice. I've also realized that I am in a new school. My last school had completely different expectations and protocols for things. How did I learn those? I was told and I asked questions. My old school was much smaller and more communicative. (it was a therapy school for Heaven's sake!) This school is a public school - one of 9 in the district. I'm one of 75+ in my school alone. I need to be proactive - a self-starter. I'm in a new environment and I need to adapt.

I left the day on Friday feeling better. Not only did I survive my first week, and no one hates me yet, but it also means that my formal schedule will start next week! We all know how I feel about consistency and routine! Things will make more sense to me once the school year is in full-swing. I just need to give it time...

I suppose that the week was "successful" enough to share a few pictures...

This is how I left my room the night before. Pinterest and blogging really did a number on me! My room wasn't anywhere close to as decorated and amazing as other teachers. But, it was functional, clean, and ready for students to enter. I have the rest of the year to put time into decorating it right?

 Here is my behavior board. This is my modified version of my Behavior Management Starter Pack. My classroom version only has 4 levels. The difference is that the students are not able to move up in the levels. Many may feel that this does not encourage positive behaviors. I remedy this by having other positive supports in the classroom (see one of my ideas below). I created this version, as I feel that my littles struggle enough in the classroom to maintain appropriate behavior, and I felt that 7+ levels are too overwhelming for my composition of kids. I do not have the modified version for sale, as I'm not sure people are interested. If enough people are, I would love to offer it. Let me know!

On this board I also have Caitlin Miller's I Don't Know Options visual to help when my kids raise their hands without actually listening to my question! I've already used this 5 times this week!

This is a picture of one section of my library. I wanted to show all of you how I organize my library (by genre and/or author mostly). I got these great Library Book Bin Labels from Teaching in Paradise! I love them - has everything, and then some.

I also started this system in my class for planning and prepping for the school day. The magazine holders contain my lesson plans, worksheets, and books needed for the day (each day has its own magazine holder). I also have bins that correspond with each school day and magazine holder for manipulatives, or items that don't fit in the magazine holder. I haven't really utilized this to its full potential yet, but that will be happening next week! The labels on the bins and magazine holder are from Clutter-Free Classroom!

My new classroom has large closet spaces for supplies, materials, etc. They are tall and one side has a place to store hangers. I wasn't sure how I was going to utilize the space, but found the best way possible! I have a collection of poems written on chart paper and hanging on hangers. I read about this idea to store anchor charts here, and fell in love. If you notice on my hangers, I placed different color tape. These different colors are different categories: Red = Back to School Poems, Orange = Fall Poems,  Blue = Winter Poems, Green = Spring Poems, and Purple = Science Poems. I will be adding different categories as needed, but these were the only categories I had poems for at the time. I love how these look hanging in the closet- out of the way and all neat in a row. Plus, it's so easy to grab when I need them for our circle time!

 I also prepared my kiddos' Home-to-School Folders (homework folders). I have a few extra ones with the same information that I will save for any future students.
 One side says "Keep at Home" and the other side says "Bring Back to School"
 Some of the things I included for the first day under my "Bring Back to School" side are the Student Information form (in yellow), Parent Survey (in the middle), and my Classroom Contract.

On the "Keep at Home" side I included school notices, newsletter, a product flyer I'm expected to send home so our school gets money, lunch calendar and school expectations, and my collection of Parent notices I like to send home. This collection includes helpful articles, brochures, ideas, tips, and a sweet poem I have found. I like to provide these types of lists and ideas so parents know that I am on their side and are hear to provide help :)

This was my first morning message! Naturally, because I wasn't provided nearly any supplies at the beginning of the year, my only thick dry erase marker that was left in my classroom from the year before, was nearly dried out. Oh well.
I'm new to morning message time. I've done morning messages before, but they have never really been used for anything, especially as an instructional tool. I am excited to get this started this year!

On Thursday we did a quick lesson on reality and fantasy using the book This School Year Will Be THE BEST! I like to use this book in the beginning of the year to start thinking about what we want to experience this year. I also have them complete their first writing activity with this book: They write two different "wishes" for the school year - one that is silly (Like having a chocolate fountain at lunch), and one that is realistic (I wish to make new friends this year). Naturally, I don't have pictures to show you...oops. But I do have this activity. I copied pages from the book and cut apart the picture from the words. After reading the story, the students had to determine if the words and pictures were realistic wishes or if they were fantasy. Sometimes, the words and pictures were in two different categories so they really had to think about it independent from one another. This was a fun activity for them to be able to get up, move around, and incorporate what they know about the story, as well use some of their own ideas and schema to determine what would make sense.

On Friday, our principal came in to read us a story! I was so proud of how well they all sat on the rug, listened to the story, and didn't interrupt (too much).


And, my favorite idea for the school year so far is our friend Lulabelle! I draw this girl on a piece of chart paper, colored her in, and laminated the whole sheet with no words on it. We use her for all of our brainstorming and visualization activities. For example, we've used her for brainstorming what my students look for in a teacher. (I got this from a FABULOUS product from Across the Hall in 2nd Grade, which can be found here) We've also used her as a 2nd grade student, in which he brainstormed some goals she could strive for for the school  year (seen above). I've incorporated this activity in my Goal Setting unit, in which we are setting manageable goals for each quarter of the school year. I am also using the Bubbly Blonde's Savvy Second Grade Fun and Fabulous First Grade Fun products for writing/drawing our goals for the school year to include in our goal setting books! I'm so excited for the end of the year where we can see the progress (hopefully) made throughout the year!

In other news, I am SO close to 400 followers! I'm so excited and would like to throw a fabulous giveaway! If you would be interested in helping out, please complete the form below :) Thank you so much!



Also - don't forget to entire my Back to School Giveaway! Ends tomorrow!!!!

Until next time,
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6 comments

  1. Congratulations on 400 followers! Sorry you had such a rough start to your week, but I am glad it turned around for you. Your husband sounds like mine. It's great when they can give us perspective isn't it?

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

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  2. Your classroom looks so well organized... hard to believe this is a new school, class, etc. Looks like you handle stress VERY well :)

    Cindy
    Granny Goes to School

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  3. You have so much to offer the people at your new school! If I were you I'd jot down all the things you need to know and make a little teacher help booklet so you can be the change your new school needs when someone else new arrives. You hand them the information with a smile and just imagine how grateful they will be...instant new trusted colleague. In the meantime ask for everything you need to know with your head high - you can't know these things, you are NEW.
    Happy week 2.
    Julie :-)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage

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  4. Sorry your first day was so difficult. It sounds like you have lots of great things in place and planned, you just need to get to know the routine of the school. You'll get into a rhythm before long, I'm sure. :) And don't feel embarrassed; when a new teacher was hired next door to me I was always wracking my brain thinking, "What else does he need to know?" I WISHED he would take the initiative to come ask me more so I didn't have to keep worrying about him! :) You know how it is; teachers want to help, really.

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  5. Rae, everything looks so well organized! You are rockin' it! I can't wait to read more about your classroom adventures this year :)

    Caitlin

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  6. I love your organization, great idea on how to organize and be ready for each day's lessons, I am heading to my classroom this weekend and that is on my list of "to do"s. It would make it so much easier for a sub to step in also. Paula @ educatingchildrenwithdisabilities.blogspot.com

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Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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