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Reflections from the Second Week of School

The second week of the 2012/2013 school year was quite interesting, let me tell you.

First of all, the kids arrived on Monday already exhausted.

The happy feelings and excitement about a new year had worn off.

As we began our unit on Author’s Craft/Textbook Mapping/Text Features, Hurricane Isaac brewed in the Gulf of Mexico.

During second period, we received word that there would be no school the next day.

Well, let me tell you that the kids pretty much checked out mentally after that announcement.

Still, I had lesson plans to execute, so I kept my students occupied.

Tuesday was such a blessing in disguise.  I took advantage of the day and created lesson plans for the rest of the week.

I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have that done and not have to completely stress out the next two evenings.

Lesson planning is very difficult for me.  It’s both tedious and time-consuming.

This is probably because I am such a perfectionist and especially hard on myself.

On Wednesday, I did whole-group instruction/modeling on how to map a chapter of text.  I used a ninth grade physical science text book and helped students break it down into sections, headings, and subheadings.

Struggling readers just cannot take too much text at one time!!!

This was a fun activity for me because I had the kids interacting with the text…constantly walking past it (I’d taped the chapter’s pages to my wall, looking at the text, and touching the text (counting the pages as we broke the text down).

They were not amused at having to walk so much.


On Thursday, I had a student removed from my class because of misbehavior and followed it up with an official discipline referral.

This was not fun and a huge disappointment.

I am determined to run a tight ship from the beginning so I don’t have a mutiny in the end.

It was amazing to watch my chatty class fall into line after the student was removed.  They completed their group project without giving me any problems.


On Friday, we worked on the THIEVES strategy that I posted pictures of in a previous post.

My students created posters with the acronym and cut an example of each item from the magazines I provided.

I really loved this activity as well as the one from the day before (students had to map a different chapter I’d provided, using the previous day’s modeling as their example).

These activities kept my students engaged for thirty minutes!!  I was able to walk around the classroom, help students stay focused on the assignments, and provide additional assistance and clarification.

I got more small-group instructional time with my students, and students who needed the most help got it!!

One small issue arose on Friday as I saw a new student walk into one of my classes.  He’s in my homeroom, so I knew who he was.  The guidance counselor mentioned that he might be switching to my class.

This child has quite the personality, let me tell you.  He’s been placed in my most “vocal” class.

The child made his appearance known.

Thus, I’ll be doing some thinking over the weekend…planning for how to handle his random comments and questions.  The class already has an issue focusing…hence their chattiness.

He’s a nice young man, though, with a charming personality and a quick smile.

I’ve got my work cut out for me.



My week certainly had some highlights.

On Thursday, one group of students had finished their project early.  I’d been incorporating team cheers to build classroom morale, so I started to ask this group to give each other a fist explosion (a Kagan cheer).

I changed my mind halfway into the sentence and decided to allow the group to pick their own cheer.

But I went a step further.

I gave them my Kagan book, turned to the Team Cheers page, and allowed them to read over the cheers and select their own.

Then, I walked around class, helping other groups that weren’t finished.

I turned back to this group, though, when I heard them clapping, laughing, and making a “Wooo” sound.

They were doing a firecracker cheer and having a great time!

I filmed them and then asked them to demonstrate for the entire class.

During the next class period, I repeated myself, gave the first group that finished the book, and allowed them to write in the book, making notes of the cheers they had not enjoyed thus far.

That group had two boys, and I watched, surprised, as they practiced the cheers with the girls.

Quite funny!!

The other highlight that stands out in my mind was the student who allowed me to take her picture in the cap and gown in my room.

The first day of school, she’d refused, and though I’d been able to talk others into the picture, I could not convince this young lady. I let it go.

On Friday, I was catching up on the people I’d missed the first day (due to absences or schedule changes), and when I asked if she’d let me take her picture, she agreed!!!!

This was evidence of trust growing between us.

Trust is incredibly important when you teach.  It’s difficult to reach kids if they don’t trust you.

So, what did I learn about teaching and myself this week?

Well, I learned that if I work hard on the back end…planning engaging lessons…the teaching in the classroom part is FUN!!!!

And it doesn’t feel like work!!!!!

The tiring part is handling behavior, and I have a class that is toeing the line.

I see that so clearly, so I’m going to have to do a gut check, suck in my breath, and put my foot down.

I will not let the chattiness get out of hand.

I will start conferencing with students and calling parents.

Still, though, the week was FANTASTIC!!!!

I am in my comfort zone, and the students are teaching me so much!

Teenagers are so vocal and so honest, and I do take a lot of their comments to heart.

I think we’re off to a great start, and I’m praying that this continues.

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