1. Rules vs. Agreements
I am generally a big advocate of democracy in a classroom. In particular, I preach the TRIBES (TM) agreements as an alternative to "rules" in a classroom. But... for the first time in a LOOOOONG time, I decided on the fly to change the rules, so to speak. My class is extremely boy-heavy and also seems to have several students who -- as I discovered in the first several minutes -- thrive on structure. So, instead of the open-ended "classroom norms" activity I had originally planned, I decided to just "give" them the rules:
i. Follow instructions (the first time they are given).
ii. Raise your hand and wait for permission to speak.
iii. Use an indoor voice and polite language (no teasing or swearing).
iv. Be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there.
v. Use hands, feet and objects for helping, not hurting.
I figure these cover all bases, and today we'll talk about what these look like and sound like in different contexts, so it is clear to all. :-) The specificity of the rules also allows for very specific descriptive feedback with any behaviour issues that may arise.
Yesterday I had a student teacher AND a teaching assistent with me all day. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! I have of course had student teachers before, but with the TA, the room had 3 relatively competent adults at all times. And you could feel the difference. Busy class with many, many needs, but with three adults, lots of redirection and instant modification available for the students who needed it, even right on the first day, without all 22 kids having to wait for me! Every class should have three teachers, lol!
3. Plant Life
The highlight of the day happened at lunch -- I was downstairs in the front hall, showing my student teacher around the copy room and office area, when suddenly the front doors to the school opened, and in came my girlfriend, with a GIANT Rubber Tree for my classroom, and flowers for my desk--she had ridden her bike all the way from Etobicoke, hauling this stuff, I don't know how!!!!!
The classroom looks great, the kids are great, I feel great -- here's hoping for a successful school year all 'round.