Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reflections from the First Week as a 6th Grade Teacher

I don't plan a coherent narrative for this post so you can skip around as you choose. Instead I will just run with a stream of consciousness.

Sixth graders are much smaller than junior high students. I know they grow a lot this year, but it is really obvious now. I need to keep in mind that big body changes mean big changes in other areas as well. I also need to be on the lookout for overtired students.

Creating good lessons takes much more time than following the schedule in our textbooks. I used to spend a lot more time running worksheets than I did planning. I am happy to say that the opposite is now true, although it does eat up a lot of home time.

Working on lesson plans is a lot of fun for me. I am grateful for this because if I didn't enjoy it, I might not do it. I believe that the time I spend creating these plans will pay off in the classroom.

My room wasn't completely ready. I don't have a fifth string on my guitar (I broke it re-stringing it). I don't yet have the exercise balls in there either. I am working up the courage to put them in. I don't want them to be a distraction even though I believe they can really be useful for some of the students.

The students love writing on their desks with whiteboard markers. Anything that helps motivate them to write things down is alright with me.

I am still no good at remembering names. I actually take knowing most of their names after three days as a positive sign. My goal for this week is to have them down. Any non-invasive, non-embarrassing ideas on how to do this?

I'm not satisfied with how I am evaluating what they are learning. My assessment skills are either rusty, or I never had them to begin with. I need to speak to them individually to help assess what they are learning.

It was really easy to get them to start writing reflections. This has been the biggest #win so far in the classroom. Without them sharing these reflections I would have no idea what they learned last week. (See last paragraph.) Now to transfer these written reflections to video reflections.

Relying on technology is a frustrating experience. I had a lot of trouble with the connection between the iPad and the Apple TV on Friday. I really hope that it is resolved now. I find that I can't let a problem like this go and will waste learning time trying to solve the problem. I need to learn to let it go and work on it when it won't disrupt the classroom.

Once again I find myself unable to separate my day job from my leisure time. I can't enjoy quiet time because my mind immediately moves toward thinking about my classroom. Good thing I enjoy it.

I think this is enough rambling for a three day week. :) 


  1. Did I seriously NEVER think of just writing on our light grey tables with marker to brainstorm! GENIUS!

    I'd love to hear more about how you encourage their writing in reflections. I am HORRIBLE at this practice in class because I am soooo rushed at the end of the day and then I think they can rush reflections. It just doesn't work for me, or them! Can't wait to hear more about/see your kiddos video reflections!

    Hope you have a GREAT year! See you at edcampsgf?

    1. Thanks, I hope to be at #EdCampSgf, but there is a Hog home game that day. If the game is at night I can make most of it. If not....

      Why wait to have them reflect at the end of the day? My students asked me after the first lesson Friday if they could start their reflections.

  2. Love your open and honest reflection! I wish more teachers in my building would be this honest and seek this type of feedback.
    Your students are very fortunate to have you for their teacher.
    Your passion for learning is contagious and they will catch it too!
    Have a great week!

    1. Thanks, Bill. I am doing this for me (mostly). I think it is important to share what I am doing, but I am pretty realistic. Not a lot of people will read what I write here or on my other blogs. As long as I get something out of it, and I always do, then I will have a reason to keep writing.


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