Only 149 days of school left!
Lessons: Third grade is getting to a point where they’re figuring out how to be more independent, sometimes by necessity and sometimes because they are really motivated to. One class kept themselves so on task that they had ten free minutes at the end of the period. I put all the “time filler” activities into a Google Doc and put the Doc in the “About” section of their Google Classroom. So now whenever they have free time, they can go to the Doc and see what they’re permitted to do. The other class that did well this week did so out of necessity. I needed to finish a task for the principal and I didn’t have any prep time left, so I told students they needed to work as independently as possible and I would still help them if they really needed help. This, I really enjoyed. They didn’t get done in the same amount of time, but if I told one student a tip, they passed it along to other students who needed help. I think I should give them commendations next week of some kind.
Support: We have one of those approved vendor assessment systems to keep track of student growth measures in our district. The tech department has been trying to sync it with our online gradebooks. It’s the kind of thing that’s going to work so well once we actually work out all the kinks. But we’re still in the thick of things for the moment. It’s going to be so rad, eventually.
Things I Did Well: I’m working hard to get my seating charts settled. This in and of itself hasn’t been a priority, but I need to do seating charts to make another task work. It’s a tedious task but I won’t procrastinate any longer! In case you were wondering why I didn’t have seating charts ready to go at the beginning of the year, it’s because out of 28 seats in my room, around five were at computers that were not functioning, or functioning so slowly that it would be cruel to force a child to use it. I also had some other routines I wanted kids to get used to first, like new and beautiful headphones, the optional cardboard privacy screens, and so on. Also, our school district has a lot of student movement, so rosters at the very start of the year are very rarely accurate. Finally, I took some advice I saw on Twitter about letting your students choose their seats first. That way you get a sense of who gravitates towards whom, for good and for ill. I realized after a couple weeks that some friends need to be separated, some kids need to be alone to focus, some kids need a buddy beside them that they can ask for some help. And rather than revise seating charts, I find it easier to go with the flow and then make them. And even then, I often have to adjust them on the fly, because one computer decides to freeze or something like that.
Things I Will Do Better: I’m continuously working to improve our school’s morning announcements. There are many ways they are imperfect. Last year students could run it very independently. We’re not there yet with this group. But I started doing pre-produced segments so it’s less of a panic in the mornings! We’ll see how it goes. If you want to check them out, click the link — I’m very open to feedback!
Cold Prickly: I needed to talk to a student about something and found her feeling the lowest she’s maybe ever felt at school. She told me she had just failed a test, and she’d never failed before. It was a speed test on the three times tables. Having known this child for a while, I know she’s very bright and one of those kids who is naturally good at school, and accustomed to success. So when she failed she took it really, really hard. I relate to that — I was a student who succeeded pretty naturally at school, and the first academic subject that brought me to tears was also multiplication. We’re trying to foster a growth mindset culture for our students, though, so I chose carefully what I said to comfort her. “So you didn’t do as well as you wanted to. That doesn’t mean you’ll never get it. It just means you don’t have it yet.”
Warm Fuzzy: I’ve allowed a colleague’s thirteen-year-old son to have some influence on my classroom decor. I like where he’s going with it. (Toriel would be so proud she’d make a butterscotch-cinnamon pie.)