August 23, 2013

First Week Recap! New Challenges + Classroom Tour

Phew!  2 Institute Days, 1 Back to School Night, and 3 full days of teaching down!  I'm always amazed by how tough it is to get myself back in the school mindset at the end of summer, but how once that first bell rings on day 1, it's like I've never left!!  What a great, albeit exhausting, first week.  Since this is my second year teaching in a multigrade classroom (3rd + 4th), it's my first time having some of my kiddos for a second year.  While I'd MUCH prefer straight grades, I have to say that having half of the class come in on day 1 knowing my routines is pretty fantastic.  I was super worried about how I had barely any leaders in my 3rd grade bunch last year, but sure enough, some of those kiddos have stepped up to fill their new 4th grader roles!  I love seeing them help the 3rd graders with things and teach them our chants, cheers, and call backs that they remember from last year!

One of the things I was most worried about in the weeks leading up to the school year was the fact that not only do I have an ELL cluster in my room this year, but I also have three Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.  My school houses the DHH program for the district (actually for the neighboring districts too!), and this will be my first year with the DHH cluster.  I was sooo nervous about having three deaf children in my class this year--what a step outside of my comfort zone and into completely unfamiliar territory!  I was mostly just nervous that I would do a bad job with them and totally screw up this first week.  On top of that anxiety, I was trying hard to figure out how I'd be able to clip an FM system that sends my voice straight to hearing aids AND a battery pack for a headset mic to my person without having to give up wearing dresses.  Solution:  My SPI belt!
 I wear this baby for races sometimes to hold my energy gels.   It works great for that purpose!

See, you can see the little pouch by my hand in this race picture.  

I may, however, be the first teacher to wear a running belt on a daily basis.  Oh well, at least I can still wear my dresses!  (And carry Gus around in case I need a little boost of electrolytes and carbs during the day I guess???)
First Day!  Check out my belt of gadgets and my rock star headset mic.  
My neighbor teacher said I looked like I was ready to teach an aerobics class!

Luckily the DHH resource teachers and all of our sign language interpreters (the kids have one with them at all times) have been super helpful and assured me I won't mess up!!  I worked really hard Tuesday night to practice the kids' "name signs" (a special sign for their name instead of just finger spelling it) and to practice signing my morning greeting.  I can now sign "Good Morning, my most wonderful students!  How are you doing today?" :)  I was like a proud little kid going around and showing how I can sign my greeting to other teachers.  It was so awesome to see a gigantic smile on one of the kiddos' faces when I was able to sign, "Good morning, (his name sign)" on the first day of school!  Loving this new experience--it will be a challenge, but I can't wait to learn more!

Anyways, on to the classroom pics.  I got to move to a new classroom this year!  It is MUCH bigger than my old one, and it has an adjoining door to one of my friend's rooms--score!  It's a good thing I got to move, too, because our numbers are higher than ever this year!  I am at 26 and my teammates are all at 27--ouch.  I know that many of you are much higher than that, but our district usually doesn't pack classes that full!  I'm thinking we'll be adding another section next year...Besides moving rooms, I decided to keep my decor the same, sticking with my zen paper lanterns and blue and polka dot theme.  What can I say, I know what I like!
View frmo the hallway.  I have my morning check-in with clothes pins on the wall, and my restroom sign out clip board is on the desk.  (Read more about my restroom routine here.)

Here's a close up of the blue poster on the wall--the teachers in my building all displayed pictures of the covers of books we read over the summer.  Loved it!  It's been fun sharing with the kids and seeing what other staff read too!  Great conversation starter!

View from the door.  I love my hanging lanterns!  
This year my room is big enough for a second small group table--score!
Just inside the door--calendar, birthday chart, and shared supplies (including bins for paper, extra copies, and scratch paper).
Just inside the door--coat hooks, text book cubbies, and book boxes lined up underneath. 
Back table, bulletin board with rules and agreements, clip chart, and class boggle game 
My desk and Homework Assignment board 
The one itty bitty window in my room.  It faces a brick wall.  Oh well, I guess you can't have it all! 
Side counter--file crate, Friday Folder Files, Job Chart 
Cabinets along the side wall--trying this word wall again.  I laminated cardstock with the letters of the alphabet on each sheet and wrote our vocab words in vis-a-vis marker.  Sadly, I did not keep up with it...what else is new?!?  I'm giving it one more try this year! 
Supply totes and math focus board (in progress--see what it WILL look like here.) 
Library and bulletin board where we will display our Daily 3 anchor charts 
Front of the room/gathering place.  My library continues here in plastic crates.  I love my crazy polka dot rug that I got for a bargain at IKEA!  This is where I do 99% of my teaching, between the easel and the projector.  My board is actually interactive!  It's not a SMART board, but somehow I can magically interact on the regular white board using some sort of magic pens...I don't get it, but it's pretty cool! 
Guided reading area.  The black paper above it is where I will post our affirmations, one at a time.  Read more about those and see last year's affirmation wall here and here.
Writing Workshop board--I hang our anchor charts here and teach the kids to go up and flip through to find what they need.  I also have our Writing Process tracker.  This year I am planning to post student writing using the magnet clips under the "Writers in the Spotlight" sign. 
Word Work bin, Class Writing Journals, and Writing Reference Books.  Oh, and baskets overflowing with pillows... 

 Phew!  That's it!  Now it's time for pasta, gatorade, and mentally preparing myself for tomorrow's 16-miler (aka ignoring the knots in my right leg that have been plaguing my allll week...).  Have a great weekend!!

What new challenges are you facing in your classroom this year?

What do you have planned this weekend?


  1. Looks great! Next week is our week of meetings and then after labor day our kids start back..ugh..where did summer go??

  2. Classroom looks great! I wish I had thought of the runner's belt last year. Some days I couldn't find a place to clip one of my student's FM systems and I would end up packing it around all day. LOVE the idea of putting up your summer reads for kids to see, so important!

  3. Your classroom looks awesome! You must've worked pretty hard at that last week. I'm excited to hear more about how you work with the DHH cluster (I can only sign three words: awkward, penguin, sea turtle).

    We start the day after labour day, and I'm in new-teacher-goes-crazy mode. Today was the last day of summer camp, and I still don't quite know where my summer got to.

    26 kids sounds like a good number. here, we cap at 20 for up to grade three, but once they hit grade four, there's an average across the board, rather than a limit. I've seen classes with close to 40 kids (in middle school, even more than that - I talked to a teacher who had 47 grade sevens!). Are your clusters integrated in all day, or do they do stuff in a special class as well?

  4. I love your room and your "gadget belt" is chic :) I always wished my university offered sign language as a foreign language option because I think it would have been super fun to learn!

  5. What a good idea for the running belt! 27 is huge! I won't tell you what I have.

  6. Room looks looks fabulous! Love your summer reading board.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  7. Welcome back! :) Like you, I always have a heard time shifting mindsets in the fall (well end of summer), but once school starts, I'm fine!

    I love your belt for the DHH system--brilliant! Maybe you should design a belt for this purpose and make millions. :) You can't be the only teacher who wants to wear summer dresses!

    Your classroom looks gorgeous!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...