Thursday, September 18, 2008

Assessments, measurements, and setting big goals

The last few weeks have seemed like such a blur. Not only am I at school for seven hours a day, but work has been following me home five or six days each week. On average, I'd say I'm working upwards of 15 hours per day. Sheesh, I feel like a financial investor (but who wants to be one of those these days?).

The first weeks have school are supposed to be a little chaotic -- at least that's what the seasoned teachers tell me. Aside from learning 115 names, organizing massive amounts of papers, and setting up a classroom, things are going fairly well for me. Plus, on a positive note, all of my literacy students are on grade level for reading comprehension according to the McLeod reading assessment I gave them. The McLeod asks students to read a series of paragraphs with miscellaneous words missing. The students are to fill in the missing words by using context clues to figure out the words that fit. My students, being the pros I know they are, passed the test with flying colors, and because of their success on the assessment, we're working towards having a high school reading level by the end of the year (that's for both my seventh and eighth graders).

Here is a shot of my classroom library. Don't worry, the bulletin board is now covered with summer reading projects. Go Gators!?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two weeks down

So I have successfully (at least in my opinion) finished my first two weeks on the job as a full-time teacher. I'll admit, there have been some trials along the way, but I've had a number of successes too.

I think the most interesting thing that has happened so far has been the drastic difference in student investment and behavior since the summer. Granted, I have spent a great deal more time explaining to my seventh and eighth graders that they are able to complete high school level work. In fact, investment is going so well that my seventh graders have begged me to let them read and write on a daily basis. Ha! In many ways, they hold me just as accountable as I'm trying to hold them.

I was also asked to take on a position on our school's inquiry committee. As a member of the committee, I will help track student data to determine how affective our school is at preparing students for high school and the state standardized tests. I'll admit, this sounds a little worrisome since I absolutely loathe quantitative data. We'll see though. I'm working on being more optimistic.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First day of school

So the first day of school went off without a hitch, and I have to admit that I am more excited now that I have been all summer about the year ahead. Now I'm sure that my attitude might change after a few weeks, but as of right now I'm pretty optimistic about the coming school year.

The day started off well with my homeroom class of 30 seventh graders. Now, that's the biggest class I've ever taught, at any level, so this morning, before school, I was worried I wouldn't be able able initiate strong classroom management routines. Fortunately, things went well considering I kept 30 seventh graders in their seats, and quite for the most part. **Pats myself on the back**

However, my good will towards the year was fully fostered during my seventh grade literacy (reading and writing) class later in the day. This time, I only had about 15 students, and they all seemed genuinely excited about our goals for the year. I explained to them that it was our job this year to make sure that they're ready to apply for high school at the beginning of eighth grade (in NYC, student apply to go to high school). At one point, one young lady's eyes were so big with anticipation that I thought they were going to pop out of her head (okay, I exaggerate a bit, but they seemed interested in our October/November unit on speech and debate (to go along with the presidential elections).

We'll see what tomorrow brings. I get to meet my eighth graders and my newsletter class for the first time. Again, I'm optimistic!