Early Days

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#sol17- August 15, 2017

One of the things I like best about teaching is all the fresh starts. We have now completed 6 days of the new school year and I am reminded again and again how long it takes to get things done at the start of the year (general rustiness, end of year memories instead of the beginning of year memories, new routines, etc.).

This year one of the things I am trying to plant early is that everyone is a teacher and learner. We have to trust each other to do their best. The students are working in all different configurations as they choose their seat each day. Sometimes partners are assigned, sometimes they choose. In the early days when the EAL support teacher and LR teacher are doing the start of year testing, students learn flexibility early and often.

This afternoon in math, students were partnered to play a new game. We have 17 students, so I was a partner too. A few minutes later the counselor came to pull students one at a time for a “getting to know you” meeting. As she took one student, partnerships were sometimes reconfigured and I was “free” to observe. Then the EAL support teacher came in to work on reading assessments, so we were back to an odd number of students and I was a partner again. When the counselor was finished I was again an observer (and sometimes a reteacher, helping the students understand a variation of the first game). Afterward, I commented to the students, “You were all so easy about switching partners.”

Afterward, I commented to the students, “You were all so easy about switching partners.”

“We all got to play the game,” one answered sweetly.

These early days are so busy, but what I have to remind myself is that we are setting up things for the whole year ahead. I want them to know that they can count on each other and do not need to rely on just one partner. They are coming from five different classrooms and we have a few new students too. They did not really know each other until a few days ago. I want them to know that we all have a lot to offer our community. As we work on shared class agreements based on our hopes and dreams for the year (thank you Responsive Classroom), make posters about what we like and do not like in work partners in general, create identity webs, and so much more we are laying the groundwork for the year ahead. I love that one student said on the way to the bus, “I’m in the best class this year- we’re all loving reading.” I know that it won’t always be rainbows and sparkles this year- we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but if we can build this foundation of trust we will definitely have a better year.

I love that one student said on the way to the bus, “I’m in the best class this year- we’re all loving reading.” I know that it won’t always be rainbows and sparkles this year- we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but if we can build this foundation of trust we will definitely have a better year. I feel like we are off to a great start!

 

 

*** Zhi Hong shares (a former third grader who is still slicing).

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9 thoughts on “Early Days

  1. cmargocs

    The energy of your class sounds so easygoing–possibly a reflection of their teacher? Best wishes for continued peace and learning in your classroom this year!

    Reply
  2. jcareyreads

    You are building a strong foundation, your classroom community. This is the piece I miss most not having my own classroom anymore. Best of luck for more rainbows and sparkles!

    Reply
  3. Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski

    I love reading this Erika! I want to know what the math game was. I’m thinking about having learning partners who work with each other all day instead of subject specific ones to start the year…. then switching partners each day.

    Reply
  4. sallydonnelly11

    I still have 2 weeks until the first day but your post is getting me excited! And motivated to take the time to build that trusting community. You are an inspiration. And I’m going to share this link with the new 3rd grade team at Discovery. Tammy is back. Then a new teacher right out of college, a new person just hired because enrolled just grew – She is not new to teaching and a friend of mine who I worked with before who is new to 3rd gr (taught 1st before). I know they will appreciate reading your reflections after 6 days of school. Thanks for continuing to inspire from across the globe!

    Reply
  5. mbhmaine

    Thanks for reminding me how important it is to take the time to build community and to deliberately recognize the positives as they occur. I love your mantra–we are all teachers and learners. It sounds like you’re off on a wonderful start to the year!

    Reply
  6. Wondering and Wandering

    Yes, the start up to a new year is rough. But those “first six weeks of school” (thanks, again, Responsive Classroom!) are critical for building a solid foundation that will stand the test of the school year. Sounds like you are off to a great start!

    Reply
  7. erinbakerreadwrite

    What a beautiful way to start the year. It sounds like you have worked hard to create a good foundation for a responsive classroom where all are loved, valued, and appreciated. I hope you have a great year.

    Reply

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