For the past two weeks, I’ve been responsible for pretty much all aspects of teaching- picking the kids up from specials (music, art, gym, etc.), writing all the lesson plans, teaching 4 classes each day, assigning and checking homework, creating and grading quizzes. It has been going very well. The students are really starting to get used to me teaching and being the main teacher that is in the room with them at all times. (Sometimes my teacher will take small groups out for enrichment or remedial work, so it is not uncommon for me to be in the classroom by myself with the students.)
On Thursday, however, my teacher had an obligation outside of the classroom- so I was flying solo all day. One of the building subs was in my room all day, but his activities consisted of texting, checking his email and sitting in the back of the classroom. Also a guy who is in my classroom 2.5 days each week and serves as an aide was in there. Things went quite smoothly since the students are used to having me teach. There were a few comments about where my cooperating teacher was, but nothing that threw us off our routine.
While I was talking with the aide, who has seen me teach quite a bit, he commented that I am more firm with the students than my cooperating teacher and that they seem to respond to that and behave appropriately (for the most part). To be honest, I was pleased to hear this because at times I feel like I might be too nice or relaxed with my students, especially my girls classes. It’s really important for me to set clear expectations firmly and fairly, while also building relationships with my students. Everyday I realize again that this will be a process, but we’re all moving in the right direction.
To facilitate communication with my students and to let them know that I really care about what they have to say, I will have a “talk box” in my classroom. In this box, students can write little notes to me if there’s something they want me to know about- something going on at home, drama with friends (or enemies) at school, a question they have, etc. I’ll read their notes and write a brief response to their note. I got this idea from a 3rd grade teacher during our Professional Development Day yesterday. I think this will be a great outlet for students and provide an opportunity for me to give them some much needed attention without having to stop instruction. We’ll see how this works- it’s definitely worth a try! 🙂