After spending my lunch hour today rearranging and sorting the piles on my "desk" (the counter at the front of the room), I am filled with renewed optimism about my program.
In celebration, I offer the photo above, and the explanation below...
1. Class Organizers
Six magazine holders, labeled for the six classes (yes, that's right, SIX! Believe it, folks!) I teach. Inside each magazine holder sits a folder of lessons and/or handouts, and a clipboard with a class list. The seating plan for that class is also housed there; student sit in numbered groups, and at each group people are labeled A-B-C-D to make life a little easier. ("Person D, please go and get two pairs of scissors and a glue stick for your group; Person B, please get your group's white bin", etc.)
2. Restorative Justice Book
A professional resource given to me by my VP, and which I have begun reading on days when I take the bus. I was most impressed by the illustration offered by the turkey prank incident therein, and am keen to learn more about a practical approach in the intermediate rotary context.
3. Estimation Jar
Having battled a pharoah ant infestation in part by putting ALL our dry goods at home into airtight glass jars, I happened to have several extra class containers on hand. I brought such an one into my room the other day, and filled it with cubelinks, thinking I would cook up a math lesson of some sort... then I got distracted with something else, and it remained idly on my desk/counter.
Today, out of the blue, a grade 8 kid wanders over, paper, pencil and calculator in hand, and hums and haws at the jar while his peers are finishing putting together their math folders.
"What are you doing?", I inquire, while peeling a mis-cut and over-glued problem solving checklist off the bottom of my shoe (someone had discarded it on the floor earlier, I guess.)
Turns out dude is estimating how many cubes are in the jar, lol!
Tomorrow I am going to bring in a second jar of the same size, and fill it part way full with smaller cubes. I'll post a little sticky note on it addressed to him, inviting him to consider "which has more?" (Intentionally open-ended to encourage thinking about how "more" might be defined).
Primarily for Ms. Teschow, the timer is set to count down the period once students arrive, so that I can train myself with pacing during my teaching, something I am notoriously bad at (the pacing, I mean, not teaching in general!)
I've been successfully making and drinking mate approximately 3-4 days a week since the school year began. Days when I manage to pull it off, I am definitely more alert! (As an aside, my principal wandered into my classroom this afternoon, noticed the mate gourd on my desk, and... MOVED THE BOMBILLA! Argh!)
6. Little Paper Stars
"For you, Ms Teschow!" chirped some lovely, sweet student as she deposited a fistful of stars, handcrafted from the paper scraps leftover from the problem solving math folders experiment, on my desk. Awwww, so cute! :))))
7. Problem Solving Folder
Undeterred from the messy chaos earlier in the week, when I first attempted to have one of my classes construct their folders with little guidance or structure from me ("Oh, come on," I foolishly thought, "they're grade 7s and 8s, they can do this no problem". Haha.), I set forth today and had three classes assemble their folders.
Each class took two full 40-minute periods, but by the end of it, most of the folders looked pretty great and were fairly functional.
To celebrate our collective success, one class solved a follow-up problem to the one presented earlier; this time students had to determine which of two options was the better deal by calculating unit rate.
I had left the question sufficiently open-ended to see if anyone would consider options beyond basic end-consumer cost. So far, no one has taken the bait. (If I were a really good teacher, I'd come back to this question in the spring, when we look more at data, and give the class statistics on worker benefits and production human rights records of the two companies in question, have them analyze said data, and ask if that would change their answer from September, hehe.)
Those of you with a keen eye will notice the absence of a supply teacher folder. It's on my list, folks, it's on my list... hopefully during re-org next week!!!