>Happy New Year?

>Even though there were only three days between the end of first semester and the start of second, it almost felt like a brand new school year.  The orderliness of my desk has reached its semester high and will rapidly deteriorate from here…

More significantly, I have a brand new batch of students.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous about starting from scratch building relationships with new kids, but it was much less scary than the beginning of the year because several students had already said hi to me last week, and lots of my kiddos from last semester popped in yesterday too.  It was so much nicer to be surrounded by friendly and familiar faces!

Mugging with 3/4 on the last day of regular class

One of the teachers at my student teaching placement advised me to stay away from teacher’s lounge gossip concerning students, and I definitely heard a lot of negative things about many of my new students before the semester started.  But I really wanted to give each one a clean slate because I believe that students–like all people–grow into your expectation of them, at least in part.  So I stuck with my plans for a student-developed code of classroom conduct, and intend to try my class officer system.  Ran out of time to introduce it with my 3/4 class, but my 8/9 students seemed interested in the idea and even suggested that it be for extra credit, which I’m okay with doing since it is extra work.  The irony is that if they fulfill all the requirements for being class officer in the first place, chances are they won’t need extra credit.  But if it makes them feel better…

Class Officer Responsibilities

  • Community: Take attendance every day and collect any tardy slips.
  • Respect: Mark those who are not in their seats when the tardy bell rings and choose from the list of appropriate penalties.
  • Effort: Keep track of who leaves the room using the hall pass or a nurse’s pass.
  • Discipline: Update the assignment sheet with the day’s assignments.

Class Officer Qualifications

  • Attendance: To qualify for class officer, a student must have been present in class for the past 5 consecutive days.
  • Tardies: To qualify for class officer, a student must have no more than 1 class tardy in the past 10 days.
  • Detentions/Referrals: To qualify for class officer, a student must have no more than 1 detention during the current quarter and no office referrals from this class.
  • Missing Assignments: To qualify for class officer, a student must have turned in all assignments due the previous week.

I also had a much better idea of how to start the semester with a bang than I did at the beginning of the year.  Instead of running through the syllabus first thing, I cut out instructions for building Legos and glued each step on a different index card, which I distributed as students came in the door.  When the bell rang, I dumped Legos on the desks and told them they had five minutes to take their first quiz–go!  Everyone scrambled to build their individual step first, then they gradually figured out that they had pieces of the same puzzles.  This gave me a chance to quickly scope out group dynamics: who are the class clowns, the chatterboxes, the cheerleaders (not in the stereotypical sense but those who lift the class’s spirits), the omniscient observers, etc.  I also had them write their names on popsicle sticks which I want to use during discussions this semester since the class sizes are bigger.  We talked about how the Lego activity modeled the scientific process and the kids came up with a pretty decent list after some prompting: observation, inference, prediction, testing, collaboration, and tentativeness.  Then we went over class expectations and I had the kids start working on their own definition of CRED.

Here’s hoping for a happy new semester!

P.S. Shouldn’t we get double the experience for teaching two “yearlong” courses in one year??


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