Friday, August 8, 2008

Random Teaching Thoughts/Preparing the classroom Step 1

Well, I thought I had found a neat signature for my posts (see last post) but I don't know how to have my blog "remember" to end each post with it.

I think it is time to get to the teacher part of my blog. I have spent most of the summer posting about the mom part of my life.

I am a third grade teacher and will start my tenth year of teaching at the end of August. I can't believe that I have been teaching for nine years already! The time has really flown by.

There have been lots of changes over the last nine years. TAAS was replaced by TAKS, the TEKS for math have been updated, the language arts TEKS will be updated next year, I moved from fourth grade to third grade, etc. etc. etc. Over the last 9 years I have worked with 12 new teachers. (Just in my grade level) I've also worked with long term substitutes several times. It has been interesting to work with new, different people but I am so glad that this year, for the first time in several years, I will have the pleasure to work with the same two collegaues that I did last year.

I have worked in my room for four days this summer. I don't work the whole day. I go in at some point in the morning, stay until the kids drive me crazy because they are tired of being together in my room, come home, eat lunch, and then go back to school for a couple more hours. In the afternoons the kids stay with Jimmy because he gets off by 2:00 usually.

Of course, lots of time is spent the first couple of days catching up with everyone that you haven't seen over the summer.

When it comes to putting my room together I start by sitting and staring. I learned this technique from a friend who teaches second grade. She swears by it, and you know what? It works! The first day I was at school I didn't move anything. I focused on cleaning out boxes of old papers, etc. While I did this I debated where to put my furniture. We teach reading using the Balanced Literacy model developed by many educators. We use this book by Fountas and Pinnell. This means I need to have a community area (where the whole class can sit), a writing center (this contains dictionaries, theauruses, paper, etc.), a word study area, a teacher table where I hold small groups, and a library organized by author/genre/subject. I also have five computers and a printer (plus a teacher computer). I am self contained so that means I teach all subjects (math, reading/language arts, science, and social studies) so I have to have all of the materials that I need for those subjects. Thank goodness we have a science lab so all of the lab materials are kept in that room. I have a shelf that is full of math manipulatives organized into plastic tubs with lids.

So, back to my story. The first day I putter around and stare. I then form a plan about where I want everything to go. This year I did something totally different. I moved my computers away from the wall (they were in a straight line) into a square of desks. This gives me more wall space for my library. I had three huge plastic tubs full of books that didn't get put on my shelves last year because I simply didn't have room for them. I hate the fact that I had books that my kids couldn't access. This new design will allow me to free all of those books from their plastic prisons!

To be continued . . .

1 comment:

Cindi said...

Oh my's overwhelming at first, isn't it? I haven't gone in yet and I'm not sure when I will. We have one more week off, but one of those days I will have to attend a training on Corrective Reading/Reading Mastery. We weren't even allowed in the building until a couple of days ago, so I guess I'm "protesting" by not going in sooner. I set up a bunch of things in the spring, before we left, so I really don't have all that much to do. I won't be seeing kids for a few days that helps.

I'm glad you were able to arrange things so that you can get all your books out!