5th Year Reflection: Classroom Community

Morning Meetings
  • I still am having trouble incorporating morning meetings. One, is finding time with packed pacing guides, and another is the the class not buying into it the way I would like. It might have been the time of day I was trying to do this (the class being listless and hungry being right after specials and before lunch). It might have been I was too willing to abandon this routine when it didn’t immediately play out the way I expected.
  • I pride myself in having a respectful community. This needs to be more of a priority in the schedule for the next school year. Classroom community is happening every minute, but why not also make explicit, purposeful time for it?

 

Curriculum Pacing

  • 1st year of teaching: Went along with the team with pacing. When it got near SOL time, we were behind schedule which created stress.
  • 2nd year of teaching: I zoomed through the pacing and did not stay on pace with my team. I loved not having added stress of being behind near SOL time. This strategy’s con, though, was having to remediate more.
  • 3rd year of teaching: I tried to not zoom through pacing all of the time and take more time when needed for difficult content skills.
  • 4th year of teaching: I was more generous with the early weeks of school on instilling routines and acceptable behavior in the classroom. This initially cut into instruction time, but in the long run saved time.
  • 5th year of teaching
    • For the first weeks of school, I not only want to take my time establishing routine (instead of jumping right into instruction) but also spend time on “guidance” type lessons. Otherwise, these social issues always come up on their own, unwelcomed, throughout the school year. I do give lessons on “making good choices” but want to spend even more time on this. Examples include:
      • Staying away from gossiping (What information should be passed along, what you should listen to, what you should believe)
      • Responsibility with personal responses versus trying to change what other people believe and say
      • Speaking up for yourself firmly but respectfully
      • How you play around and joke around with friends at home may or may not be appropriate at school.

5th Year Reflections: Routines

I didn’t incorporate all of my fourth year goals for classroom routines so I combined it with this year.

Classroom Routines

  • Classroom Economy
    • Instead of doing an auction every quarter, I might do it more frequently but for a shorter time span, so that the rewards will seem more tangible.
    • For the free rewards students won, I used to keep track of them myself. I might try using Reward Coupons that students will have to return to me so that I’m not responsible for keeping track.
  • End-of-the-Day Routine by Brent Vasicek
    • Just like the morning meetings, I ended up abandoning this. I would like to reflect more on what I can do to make sure it works for my classroom.

Classroom Management

  • Behavior Dots by teachertipster.
    • Could also be used as a prize for the classroom economy auctions
  • I saw another teacher having one student as “line monitor”. The line monitor monitors the rest of the class standing in line and rewarding with tickets. This might be a strategy better suited for younger grades but I would like to keep it in mind.
  • Dojo Points: Two years ago, I started using ClassDojo to keep track of misbehavior and on-task behavior. This past school year, I barely used it because my class was so good, they didn’t need it!

    It’s interesting how classes can be different from one another and the finding out the strategies best suited for them.

4th Year Goals (Classroom Community)

Curriculum Pacing

  • 1st year of teaching
    • Went along with the team with pacing. When it got near SOL time, we were behind schedule which created stress.
  • 2nd year of teaching
    • I zoomed through the pacing and did not stay on schedule with my team. I loved not having added stress of being behind near SOL time. This strategy’s con, though, was having to remediate more with time I was always short on.
  • 3rd year of teaching
    • I tried to not zoom through pacing all of the time and take more time when needed for difficult content skills. I was able to continue to not be behind when SOLs came.
  • 4th year of teaching
    • This year, I would like to be more generous with the early weeks of school on instilling routines and acceptable behavior in the classroom. This will initially cut into my teaching time, but I think in the long run it will be more beneficial and save a lot of headache with student attitude and interactions with each other and with me. We’ll see.
  • Morning Meetings
    • These videos encourage me to make Morning Meeting more of a priority.
    • Morning Meetings can set the tone for the day, hopefully instills a positive attitude, creates a safe learning community, and builds social skills.

3rd Year Reflections: Classroom Routines

Classroom Routines

  • Transition Times
    • GoNoodle and dance Brain Breaks from YouTube were okay…
    • I liked the “Chatting Breaks” I gave. I gave a few minutes of quiet chatting time anywhere in the classroom. Fourth graders are so social!
    • Responsive Classroom’s strategy of “quiet time” or “downtime”. I called it “Wind-down Time.”
      • I liked this a lot. It makes sense to have some time to calm down and allow your brain to be ready to transition to the next activity. This also gave extra time to prep or do a quick conference with a student if needed.
  • For students that seem to have infinite number of questions during instruction, I tried putting a small mailbox at my desk. Instead of students asking every question (or concern) that pops into mind, they wrote it down on paper and stuck it in the mini-mailbox. At my own time, usually at the end of the school day, I would read, respond, and return the letter to prevent continued interruption during instruction. (It’s sad that teachers don’t have time to digress but that is reality with keeping on pace to prep for standardized tests.)
  • Classroom Economy suggestions by Laura Candler
    • I loved this! Students wrote job applications every quarter and updated their balance sheets weekly (or more if they needed to do a separate transaction).
    • I did a mini-auction at the end-of-the-quarter for prizes that didn’t require any money. (50 Classroom Reward Ideas That Don’t Cost A Lot of Money by Little Campers)
    • The class had a “bigger” auction during the last week of school.
    • Hopefully, this helped the class understand the social studies terms of “debt”, “savings”, and “credit”.
    • I used the app KidsBank that automatically updated weekly payments and helped me keep track of everyone’s balance.
  • End-of-the-Day Routine by Brent Vasicek
    • These were great. It helped for students to calm down, reflect on the day, and leave the school day with closure. I didn’t do every activity suggested on the site, but I want to try to incorporate more next school year.