Friday, November 21, 2014

7 Things I Have Started in My Classroom

 So much has changed since I started my first year of teaching only three months ago. I have learned so much! It's amazing how somethings that I have learned I implement immediately, and somethings I will have to wait until next year. I want to share these ideas (and pictures!) with you.

1. Posting Grades
 During the first couple weeks, students bothered the heck out of me about their grades. Eventually I caught on that they wanted to know their grades. Now, I post their grades (using their ID numbers instead of their names) on my back board every Friday. They wish I would post them every day, but no.

2. Things to Think/Laugh
 I wanted my classroom to be a place of visual learning, so I have intriguing posters already on my walls, but I have added a few new things. First, my black dry-erase board that I snagged from my husband has a new quotation every day. Students stop and ask me what it means. I ask them, instead, "What do YOU think it means?" And then my meme wall behind my desk always gives us a much-needed laugh.

3. Highlight Good Students
 I have always wanted to make sure my students knew if they were doing something wrong, so I have a "Board of Missing Work" on the back wall that lists students who have not turned in work. But then I realized that I am not highlighting students who are doing good things in my classroom. Now I have a poster of "English All-Stars" that lists the students with the highest grade in their class hour, which changes every Friday. I recognize these students in front of all students every Friday at the beginning of class. I also have a bulletin board full of pictures of my students. When they write something that I would deem "good writing," I type it up, laminate it, and staple it beside their picture.

4. Writing Contests
 In an effort to give my students an outlet for writing outside the classroom, my door is covered with posters for writing contests. All of the writing contests are open to their age level and cost nothing to enter. I highlight the prompt and the deadline. So far, I have had two students enter a competition.

5. Artwork
 I had no idea I would get so much artwork. I realized quickly that I would need a special place for all of the artwork I receive daily. Now the bulletin board behind my desk is my special "Student Artwork" display.

6. Organize Curriculum Material
 I had absolutely no way to organize all of the materials I used to teach an unit. Finally I created this notebook, which has all of my lesson plans, unit materials, and remediation material organized into labeled tabs. I love just looking at how organized it looks.

7. Bookshelf
 I use to smoosh all of my books under a table in milk crates. WHY? When I had this beautiful window sill. Since I placed all of my books on this natural bookshelf, I have noticed a distinct uptick in the amount of students looking at my books. To try to decorate my deteriorating wall under the window sill, I posted quotations and fun sayings (and a photograph of the Old Well), which are another form of visual learning.

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