Not going to lie…I’m exhausted. However, I realized that no matter how tired I am, I need to get these thoughts out NOW because I have so many. On top of that, one of the most important pieces of advice I gave to new, pre-service teachers was to reflect no matter what. Thus, welcome to this week’s recap on sharpies, smiles, and a cup of soup.
Is it weird that throughout the day I find myself making mental (and sticky pad) notes on things I find interesting or think about trying? Well, too bad if it is because that’s what I find myself doing, ha! Even sitting listening to students’ discussions I think of new things to try or look into for future class activities. And speaking of sticky pads and that type of “stuff,” I’m way to OCD with organization and have arranged (and re-arranged) a few times until I had folders situated and yes, color-coded Sharpies to fill out my lovely planner for different events…I will admit that I have had to tell myself to “stop” a few times (for example, not allowing myself to re-position the bulletin board poster repeatedly until it’s exactly right in the center of the board <not that anyone else would notice its “misplacement” except for me>). I know that I have to be comfortable in my teaching space, but I also acknowledge that I need to spend time doing planning…and grading…and more planning…I have a feeling battling my compulsive organization habits will be a fight that I have to negotiate at times.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I introduced my classes to their Nings today. 5 classes, 5 Nings, lots of initial excitement (or so it seems). I started off my Ning talk with asking who had a social networking page, such as Facebook, in which all of my studetns’ hands shot up. I then quickly told students the difference between their “personal” social sites and our professional, academic, social site. They quickly developed the term “ning-ing” and I even heard students murmur, “I swear if anyone messes this up, I’m going to be so mad!” when I mentioned that if they weren’t “mature” enough to handle this, we could definitely go back to other (i.e. solely handwriting with pen in hand) exercises. I know I want it to help get students writing as writing has been one of the number one reasons behind why they “don’t like English” or what they wish they were better at…but I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the Nings will work in the classroom and their specific purpose. However, when explaining to students the difference between Moodle and Ning, I found myself saying, “Our Moodle site is for housing assignment sheets and various documents. Our Ning site is for communicating and collaborating.” We will see how it all plays out, and I’ll definitely keep everyone updated on how it goes. I am thinking that if, perhaps, the Ning is a big hit, maybe next year I move to just one Ning housing the multiple classes? (With the potential to open up communication across grade levels?) Didn’t jump on that idea from the beginning since I’m just learning how to navigate and incorporate into the classroom now as it is.
On a personal note (hence, where smiles enter the picture), the rumor has it that my students’ initial impression of me is that I’m pretty tough. As you all already know, I have high expectations for everyone. I will not “dumb down” language; yes, we will have homework; and yes, we will be expected to step up to the challenges and opportunities presented to the class. I think it’s important that students understand where I stand within my classroom and what my expectations are because especially being a younger, new teacher (who people still mistake for a student at times? still unsure about that, but it’s another story and one of the biggest reasons behind why I do wear heels, minus the fact that I heart them), I need them to understand that I am the teacher in charge and not someone they can walk all over or take for granted.
So, during one of my senior classes (and might I add that though I honestly do really love all of my classes, I really heart my seniors), I had them presenting their collages to the class. Well one of my students (sarcastic, humorous type) excitedly jumped up so fast from his chair that he about fell out of it. And then he just bounced right up, said a quick joke, and went right on with his presentation. I just had to laugh at the student’s mannerism which resulted in laughing so hard I started to cry, ha! The entire class was laughing and I think they “appreciated” the fact that I was in fact a “human” too. Furthermore, I think it was important (minus the mascara that made its way down my cheek, haha!) because my students are respecting me and yet also are seeing that I’m not “mean” — I care about their success in my classroom and want them to be successful now and in their future. Thus, it’s ok to laugh and smile with our students…in fact, I think it’s a good thing.
Finally, every Wednesday, one of the Upper School (aka high school or US) teachers brings in a crock pot full of soup. We then indulge in the deliciousness during our break in the teachers’ lounge. Definitely hits the spot for a mid-morning snack! All of the faculty have been so kind and welcoming to me during my first week of school and have really helped me with any and every thing. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m very thankful for the opportunity to join a team of teachers who all look out for each other (and are willing to learn from each other, too.)