Monday, August 31, 2015

First Week Recap!

I've finally found a moment to breathe and recap on week one in the classroom.

The first week of school definitely kicked my behind.  I accomplished maybe half of what I intended to each day and it wasn't because we were wasting any time.  I struggled with my classroom last year due to several distinct behavior issues, so this year I wanted to really focus on building a strong classroom where needs were supported.  I think we're off on the right track!


I've got thirty four good kids.  Two on my original roster didn't show and one was moved from another classroom.  My one student with a behavior plan is very excited to be in my room and gives me daily hugs.  He gets wiggly some times due to his ADHD (and hello, they're ten), but after a silent nod or look from me, he is back to work.  He thanks me on multiple occasions for being his teacher, being nice, and teaching him things.  That makes my heart happy.

Class dojo as our behavior management system is working really well. 

I've got about 1/3 of the parents connected and already received messages from some families who are pleased to see all the positive choices their students are making.  My students seem to really like it too, which is awesome.  I love that it's free and I have it on my phone, so it's easy to give points throughout the day.  

They were appreciative of their first day treats, but more on that later.

They did well with our first week challenge activities and seem to have a strong sense of persevering through problem solving.

They want to help each other.

They want to read.

They're excited about our read aloud, The Lighting Thief.

They're excited about the book orders.

They're just plain excited for fifth grade and that makes my job much, much easier.


The humidity is making it extremely difficult to open the outside doors at work.  Some delightful mornings it takes a good twenty minutes and walking around to every exterior door until one will open with my key.  This annoyance is not something I have time for.

One of my students, who is new to school, had some miscommunication with his grandpa about where to be picked up.  He'll normally take the bus, but was being picked up the first few days of school.  Grandpa found me and together we found the student, who was waiting patiently in the front of the school.  We clarified the schedule and I praised the student for knowing to wait near the office for an adult.  That seemed to calm the grandpa down.  The first days of afternoon dismissal are always a little chaotic.  One student ran off and hid in the bushes.  Another wandered off from her teacher, but found me instead.  We called her mom, who was visibly upset, but I reassured her that her daughter did everything right.  She knew her phone number (which is mighty impressive as a first grader) and looked to a teacher for help.  The poor mom was worried about her child and quite pregnant with another, so she was understandably emotional. 

I already had a sibling/teacher conference.  On the fourth day of school...yikes.  

One of my student's older brothers (I'd peg him mid-twenties) ambushed me at the dot where I meet my students on Thursday morning.  The gist of the conversation was I'm not doing enough to make the student feel welcome in my room.  Considering the time, effort, and financial resources (first week goodies for thirty four) I've put in, this stung.  When I was compared to the fourth grade teacher, that was another low blow.

However, I have to be an adult and a professional, even when I don't want to.

I thanked him for bringing this to my attention, apologized for needing to go inside with my students, and told him I'd follow up on the situation.  Naturally, when I got to my line, two of the other boys were shoving each other, so that was an additional moment of fun and paperwork.

I told my admin about the meeting, then talked with the student.  The student expressed feeling nervous because fifth grade seemed hard.   He expressed concern that I wouldn't help him if he got stuck because I wasn't helping them on their first week essays.  I (once again) explained that their first week assignments were to show me what they already knew how to do and that it wasn't for a grade.  After more investigating, the student revealed that he was worried he'd get in trouble because another boy at his table is a talker.  These two students are polar opposites when it comes to physical appearances.  These two boys don't even sit next to one another, but I reassured him that I could tell the difference between them and it would be okay.

I called home after school to provide an update and I think that calmed the sibling.  Again, it was the fourth day of school.  Most students are still a little nervous because routines aren't established and it's still hard to get up in the morning. I'm hoping that being proactive and following through with this family will mean they're on my side for the remainder of the year!

The invasion of kinders

My classroom has the distinct privilege of being near not one, but two kindergarten classrooms.  This is how I feel about it:

One young girl was quite upset about getting her bus identification wrist band and began slapping, biting, and swearing at every adult who tried to help or talk to her.  I had my door shut and was hiding in my room during prep, but heard the whole situation.

Bless our school counselor and administration, since I do not have the patience for those behaviors.

One girl cried, twice.  The first time was because I wouldn't let her check out a book on the first day.  We hadn't gone over classroom norms, library check out procedures, or how to treat my books.  As one of the highest readers, I'm sure she would have treated my books with the utmost respect.  However, it's not fair to demand a book when we are in line to leave and the bell has already rung.  I calmly explained through her frantic tears that I don't play favorites and no one was allowed to check out a book until we'd gone over my expectations as a class.  This was not the reaction she wanted and I dealt with the tears all the way to the line.

With week one done, I was exhausted.  However, Friday also was my birthday, so I had dinner plans with friends.  Not as much work happened as it should have over the weekend, but I refuse to feel bad about that.  I set up my grade book, fixed my weebly (had to delete pictures of last year's students from the class blog), and graded their first math exit ticket.  I've been up since four with the pup and know today will be a long day.  I am ready for Monday and will spend after school getting ready for the rest of the week.

Good thing there is only four days with students!  Thank you staff development day!  However, rumor has it we are sitting through a six hour math training...that is identical to the one I took two weeks ago.  In a logical world, teachers who have already taken this training would be exempt...but the district isn't always the most logical place.  We'll see what happens.

On to week two!

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