Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reflect & Refresh - Looking Forward (and Backward)

Summer is gone, and teachers across the nation are gearing up for an awesome 2015-2016 school year.  My summer went by so quickly that there were several posts and linkies that I was unable to do for time's sake.  So I've made lemonade from lemons and decided to "double dip" on these two-part posts.  In this post, I'll join up with Mrs. D's Corner and several other teachers to share my goals and dreams for the year ahead (and what went right last year).  

Let me start with the part 1 of this post...looking back.  This was the part that I missed earlier this year, but you can't properly look forward until what's behind you is in perspective. 


Communication

My parent communication was stronger than ever this last year.  I opened a private class Facebook group/page for my students and their parents.  We share our classroom photos, ask questions, translate school announcements, and more on this page.  I believe it has been a remarkable tool for helping my students' families feel connected to our classroom and to their school experiences as a whole.  Even though not all my families have Facebook, I believe that it is growing and will continue to grow as technology expands.  And I believe I owe a lot of the enhancements in my parent communication this last year to Facebook for helping us connect via social media. 

 

Organization 

This past year did not feel like it was my strongest in terms of organization.  However, classroom management was certainly an improvement for me.  I began the year with a procedures discussion with each of my classes, and I think this made a big difference.  Sometimes the pressure to "hit the ground running" in the fall is great, and it doesn't seem like we have any extra time to take to talk about things like this.  But I noticed that, midway through the year after I had gotten several new students, that we really could have used a refresher course for everybody.  I think procedures are now a part of my beginning of the year routine that I can't afford to miss, even though I have the same kids each year (more or less, anyway).  It does us all good to review from time to time. 

 

Content

My students' strongest work this past year was certainly in our animal units, but one drawback was that everything took so long to complete.  I'm not sure if this was a lack of or improper/inefficient planning on my part or unanticipated interruptions, but I plan to be more aware as I venture into this year to look for potential inefficiencies and make them work in our favor.  

 

My Summer Project

I'll save this for the "looking forward" section below...



Communication

This year, I definitely want to expand upon what we created and shared on our class Facebook page this last year.  I think including useful videos and resources, especially those in Spanish or other home languages of my students, would be a great step up to help parents with learning English and with helping students at home.  I realize that so many of my EL parents want to help their students, but our educational system is very different from the one they might be used to in their home countries.  Sharing resources and other tips that I find could make even better use of our digitally shared class space. 

 

Organization

I've been so blessed to get several grants for books for my classroom, but with that has come the giant task of organizing them all for better use!  I want to look into getting some tubs for themed units this year, but most importantly, I want to get every book categorized correctly in our Booksource database and keep our books shelved and organized for student check-out. 

 

Content 

I've mentioned in some other posts how excited I am to be pursuing the language of mathematics this year in my class.  I was talking to one of my students' parents about these goals at orientation the other night, and I dare say, she seemed just as excited as I am!  I can't wait to see how our ELs' performance changes when we specifically address this vocabulary and syntax in class!  I need to get my head back into this book!

Can't wait to get my head back in this book! 

I already started practicing some new math things with some students this summer!

My Summer Project

I announced a few weeks ago that I finished my office overhaul this summer!  I was elated!  I couldn't wait to share my new work space.  I do have one pile left to sort through, but the improvements were...let's just say "significant."  This will be a great creative work space for me this fall and winter...and I have another post coming tomorrow about the "finishing touch" I just added!  (Hint: it will be to the left of my "Choose Happiness" space!) 

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