Fall 2018 Reflections

So, brief background for readers outside my classroom: I'm a first year teacher. I teach elective courses and my school's Extended Learning Program. I teach in Alaska. Yes, it's cold.

This Fall has been a whirlwind, one which no amount of student teaching really could have prepared me for. Something about suddenly having full responsibility for everything happening in the classroom is simultaneously freeing and overbearing. This is doubly true when teaching electives, where there isn't as much Standards-Based goodness for me to look towards when I feel out of my depth. A lot of the last few months has been me figuring out what I ideas needed to teach, brainstorming the best way to give students experience with the topics, and then desperately hoping no fires burst out in the process.

So far we've had a good run. There were only two fires this semester.

I have 150 middle-schoolers. This is an accurate depiction of my classroom some days.
That said, my classes aren't "core" requirements, so this next semester is bringing a LOT of shuffling my way. I'm disappointed to see how many students I've bonded with that won't be in my classes again. Many of the ones I DO have again will be switching to different class periods. Everything is changing. I have to start all over again with explaining class structure, instating class rules, remembering names, coming up with projects, and introducing myself to parents. This is terrifying.

THIS IS AMAZING.

I get to start completely over. This isn't a curse, it's a gift. The hardest thing in the world is to change the direction of a train once it's started going. This is doubly true for people, and quadruply so for students. Once classroom expectations are set, students can fall into routines and have a hard time breaking from them. They get favorite seats they want to sit in every day. They expect a certain flow or routine from class. It's VERY difficult to change these expectations once students have them. Most teachers advise starting off the year stricter than you actually plan to be for this exact reason. If you start off tough, it's easy to loosen up a little bit and seem nice. If you start off lax and try to get tougher in response to mayhem, however, you'll get front row tickets to grade schoolers staging a coup d'├ętat.

This new semester is a chance to start fresh with the lessons of the last few months. I get to take what worked, trash the things that didn't, and develop better routines (for the students AND me).

My expression the entire time I plan for next semester.
Classroom 2.0. Or something. I'm sure that name's taken, but whatever. It's an opportunity. I'm excited for this. Keep an eye here for details and plans, especially once the semester starts. I have lofty ideas for using this site as a hub for student resources and projects, but we'll get to that later.

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