Thursday, October 17, 2013

The First 28 Days

Wow! I can't believe 28 days has already gone by... where has the time gone? It has been quite an adventure getting used to my new school, which I am loving by the way. Sometimes taking a blind leap of faith really does work out for the best in the end!

My new school is nothing like my old school... here's a breakdown of some of the major differences (in now particular order):

  • I am now in a Title 1 school - this has been a big change for me. We are lacking many basic supplies and I have had to reach into my own pocket to purchase supplies for the classroom that I never thought I'd have to buy. I've also had to adapt many of my practices to make them work with the supplies I do have. It's been a learning curve but it's pushing me to be a more creative and engaging teacher!
  • The students wear uniforms - personally I think this is a wonderful thing. I never have to worry about someone coming in wearing inappropriate items.
  • There is an unspoken dress code for teachers - while our contract does not outline a dress code the teachers in this school dress with pride, nice clothes and nice shoes every day... jeans and sneakers are frowned upon. 
  • Take Risks! - We are encouraged to take risks and try new things. We are encouraged to take our curriculum and make it work for our students. We are encouraged to do what it take to get through to the kids so they can learn! We are encouraged to be creative and make teaching and learning fun! 
  • Learning Centers - We are expected to have literacy centers 4 days a week and teach guided reading during this time. While I'm still doing assessments my students are loving the idea of having center time and are thriving on it. 
  • Copies are limited - We have to submit our papers a week in advance and have proof of why we want to use it. I have not yet taken risks with my copies and have been making copies at home which isn't cheap!
  • No printers - We don't have free access to printers. I am used to having a printer at my ready all day long. Now I have to be extra prepared - everything has to be printed out at home and brought in. This is taking A LOT of getting used to for me!
  • Collaboration is limited - I'm used to meeting and planning together every day... here we are working towards that but I often find out about projects and activities that the other teachers are doing after the fact and have to rush to figure out how to make the activities they are doing work with my class.
  • New Curriculum - The school took on two new curriculums this year - math and literacy.
With all these differences it's been a struggle the first 28 days to get organized and figure out how I want to do everything. I am finally getting into a nice groove.

It's taken me a while to figure out the best way to teach our new literacy curriculum. There isn't any research on this new program that has been widely adopted and it's the first year it's being used so everyone is learning as they go which means there are no "experts" to go to when you have a question. I've got a good handle on the reading aspect of this new program - but I'm still struggling with figuring out the best way to teach writing based on this program. I'm also trying to figure out the best way to make cross-curricular connections with social studies and science. The best part though - PROJECTS!!! We are encouraged to do projects, lots and lots of projects. My goal is to get ahead of the game in my planning so I can figure out some great projects for SS and Science!

I'm also trying to find some great math projects/activities that tie into my math curriculum. We teach math for 2 periods, which is longer than I've ever taught math... so I'd love to spend part of that time doing hands on projects to reinforce what I'm teaching.

It's been a struggle to keep up with all the planning that I have to do this year but I'm hoping to get ahead of the game at some point. I'm also trying to plan everything out so that come next fall everything is ready to go!
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