Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hip Hip Hooray!!!!


My class had a HUGE and I mean GARGANTUAN milestone today.  My student who is ELL and selectively mute TALKED to me today.  But hold on to your chair... he not only talked, he approached me and ASKED A QUESTION about how to spell a word...  TWICE!  Then, he even sounded out the words with me and attempted to spell them.  

OH SWEET MAMA!!!! I could not believe it! 

Every time I've coerced words out of him before, I've had the kids give him a 10 Finger Woo AND he's earned a star on the Super Improver Wall.  17 days later HE TALKS!!!!!  Can you tell how excited I am??!!?!?! If we continue at this pace, he will be singing Opera in front of an audience by Spring Break! HA!!!  

I feel so proud of him.  I feel so blessed that I have WBT as a mindset that is so positive and encouraging.  I love that my classroom feels safe enough that he was willing to talk after only 17 days.  

I really wanted to share!  Please tell me how excited you are for my kids that they are making such amazing progress so early on!  I want to share with them how proud other people are and let them know that other people care about their progress.  

Have a great week!  My week can't get better after this....

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wowza!  TGIF!!! 

Happy Friday! #TGIF #SuperRecruiter #gratitude

I finished the first full week with my kids today.  Whew!  It was rough around the edges this week.  But each day has been better.  We have the Super Improver Team up and running, my kids LOVE Crazy Professor Reading, and we are consistently using capital letter and end mark brainies!  Yay!!!

After a Skype session with the fabulous Ms. Nancy Stoltenberg on Thursday night, I felt even better about our progress.  I was feeling a little deflated early on because I started with such enthusiasm and expected that my good intentions would be enough for me to internalize the skills so that they felt routine.  Welllllll..... as we all know good intentions provide motivation but it's the practice, practice, practice that provides the skill.  None of this feels "routine" yet (of course it is only the first week of school so I guess I should cut a girl some slack right?).  I'm just daily evaluating my consistency and setting goals EVERY afternoon for the next day.  So here are my goals for next week (deja vu):

  • Scoreboard
  • Assign homework
  • Scoreboard
  • Introduce more brainies (have them printed for the class)
  • Scoreboard
  • SuperSpeed 1,000 partner routine
  • and oh yeah, SCOREBOARD!!!
I really really REALLY want to do better at the stinkin' scoreboard!  The days I feel like I make progress and my student behaviors are most under control - TONS of scoreboard points.  However, the days I feel defeated... NO scoreboard points.  Coincidental?  I think not!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

First Day Failure....

So it's Sunday night at 8:39 and I'm watching the minutes tick by until I must force myself to go to bed and tackle another Monday first thing tomorrow morning....  Let's back track a bit, shall we?

We started back to work Monday last week and had three days of PD.  Our kiddos started on Thursday.  I've been on the edge of my seat with anticipation about school starting this year for WEEKS.  I've worked really hard all summer to organize, decorate, plan, learn, and instruct.  With all my new WBT goals I've been super excited to get into the thick of things: meet my new kids, start my lessons, really rev up the year from the very beginning.

Thursday morning... <sigh> did NOT go as planned.

My kiddos came in and had Play-Doh and a letter from me as usual.  They played quietly and whispered with neighbors for a bit and read their letter and even had an opportunity to write a letter to me in return.  I began my first day lessons with strength and passion.  We rocked through Rule 1 and learned the scoreboard before I had to deliver my sweet darlings to their enrichment class at 8:45.  At 9:15 my kids returned and we reviewed Rule 1 and practiced earning Smilies and Frownies on the Scoreboard.  (By the way, I was given all the special friends for third grade this year so my dynamic is a bit different than before.)  I had one sweet little dear who spent the next 2 hours asking when is lunch.  Every. Three. Minutes... Literally.  I could have set a clock by it.  Even though we had started on the rest of the rules and we were practicing rules 2 and 3 (not to mention 5!!!) the little dear just - kept - going.    

We made it through lunch...  Finally! so for the next 3 hours he asked for a blanket so he could take a nap because he was tired.  (You know I teach THIRD grade right?)  Sweet little guy just couldn't help it.  We played games - a version of the Name Game with Brainies.  We read stories and interviewed our new friends.  We heard all about German schools from a new friend who just recently moved to the United States (she is American, but her family has lived in Germany for longer than she has been alive).  It should have been a FUN day.  

This year is my seventh year to teach and the first time I've cried on the first day.  I was also asleep on my couch before 7:30 and we went out to eat that night.

I have two other special friends who require a lot of attention.  One is fine as long as he is hugging me.  However, sit him at a desk for even a second and he becomes Mr. Chatterbox with no one but himself... so my solution for the time being is to let him walk in step with me in a hug as often as necessary to help him adjust.  And I have a third friend who cannot articulate.  Anything.  And has difficulty listening to the whole direction.  Even a very short one like "Put this in the keep at home pocket in your binder."  That one was a hard one.

I really shouldn't complain because the other 17 kids are amazing.  They were ON IT with my WBT activities and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and learn a lot.  Which should have made me smile.  And on Friday when I thought about it, I did smile.  But Thursday... to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.

Friday was better.  MUCH BETTER!  I'm not sure if maybe I was a sensory overload for them and they weren't ready... or they are just adjusting more slowly... or if I worked so hard that I was already a little tired.  But Friday was so much better!  I made a colored pictorial schedule for my time-oriented friend and made him my class chair-taker-downer (still working on that title) in the mornings, but only if he goes home on green or better on the clip chart.  Those two things seemed to help.  Plus, the positive peer pressure and rule rehearsal seemed to make a big difference as well.  But, I completely forgot about the scoreboard all day!  I felt dumb when I realized it was blank.  Buhhh-lank I tell you.  Craziness.

When I got my afternoon class for the first time, it went amazingly well in comparison. (We are departmentalized, so I teach a different class in the afternoon for more reading and writing.)  Except that I have one child, who is Hispanic, that refuses to speak out loud.  Not because he doesn't know it in English though.  He will whisper to another kid, or even whisper to me... but doesn't want to do the activity aloud or even with a partner.  I am struggling here.  I've had kids who were reluctant to speak, but I've always managed to win them over quickly.  I'm a little stumped with this kid.  Several kids would respond "He doesn't talk much." to which I responded that it was an unacceptable answer.  I even gave him plenty of warnings that I was coming to him, would call on someone else and come back to him, sandwiched him in between other kids kinda near the end of the group during the name game.... everything I could think of.  I need a prayer because my personal goal is to have him talking out loud to the class by Christmas.

So now it's 9:14 and I'm 35 minutes closer to Monday morning.  I have everything planned and ready: Shark Week!  I'm using texts about sharks to teach my classroom routines and procedures.  My goals this week include:
  • Utilize the scoreboard MUCH more often (like stop forgetting about it)
  • Begin Universal Homework
  • Introduce more Brainies - because, and, in addition.
  • Practice, practice, practice the rules
  • Super.  Improvers.

How is the beginning of your year going?  What are your goals?  Leave a comment and let me know!