Phew - my life has been KrAAAzzZEEE!
In an attempt to find peace in my constantly chaotic world of teaching, I am looking at ways to improve my classroom presence and management skills. After 6+ months of barely keeping my head above water, an administrator finally brought me in to discuss what is working and not working in my class. I was very frank with her, and told her where my struggles lie, as well as my frustrations with the support. I had been asking for help with these issues since September (when I realized how much different the public school environment is from my previous job placement), and had received none. I had been given "quick answers" or, check out this website, but nothing I could really utilize in my classroom with any sort of guidance or support. I asked to observe other classrooms, to which I was given the response "Let me check with that teacher and get back to you." You can image I never heard back…
Now, just to remind you of my current job: I am a therapeutic special education teacher, working with students with social/emotional and behavioral challenges. My previous job had the exact same population of kids, however the entire school was devoted to their well-being and success. I am the only teacher for first and second grade students with this population, and none of the administrators in my building have experience with these types of kids. Makes for a challenging transition to say the least…
Well, I suppose I should look at this as a "new beginning" for myself as an educator. I am finally feeling the support of an administrator, and am being offered opportunities to observe classrooms, have observations of my own teaching with specific goals of classroom management in mind, and have a sounding board for ideas I have to enhance the classroom environment. I hate that it has taken to nearly the last 3 months of school for others to be on board with my frustration and overwhelmed-ness, but alas. Better late than never I s'pose.
This administrator has offered some insight in using centers, or stations in the classroom. My previous job did not include centers as part of their learning methodology, thus I never got the chance use them, or even see them in action. I've always been interested in utilizing this much-talked about academic and classroom management technique, however never felt confident enough to implement it myself, especially as my first year in public school. Well, this administrator has since encouraged me to attempt this in my classroom, in, yes, March. I purchased many books on implementing stations in the classroom for K-2, as well as The First Six Weeks of School (yes I know…how did I NOT own this already?!?!). I've already spent the last week or so vigorously highlighting and writing notes in the margins!
I still require lots of hand-holding while I figure all of this out (especially with the required "break" from curricula as we dive into learning how to use these stations), but I am slowly getting more and more confident. Hopefully some day I can talk a little about how it works in my classroom (provided I get to the point that it feels like it is working).
This past week, I introduced the Literacy Stations model to my kiddos, as well as reviewed classroom rules and expectations. We made the following Anchor Charts together for classroom rules and the consequences for following, and breaking the rules:
Also, just for fun, here is our Decoding Strategies Anchor Chart:
I've seen lots of beautiful, colorful, and fun anchor charts full of pictures and funky fonts. As much as I love them, I need to keep mine fairly simple, with minimal "extras". My kiddos can get overwhelmed by visual stimuli and instead of using an anchor chart effectively, they tend to get distracted by too many images and colors. Hence, my pretty basic charts, by Pinterest standards :)