Things I’ve Learned in the First Quarter
I have a twitter, but the 140 character limit is still too limiting to me. I’m too verbose. Sorry. In any case, I’ve tried to compile the list of things I’ve learned/have been reinforced in the first quarter of my first year of teaching. I present them for your enjoyment and also to document somewhat where my mind is at this particular moment in my career.
- If I teach a lesson that is more exploratory and conceptual, the next day should be a lesson that is direct and concrete with guided practice. Homework should be assigned on this second day, not the first.
- Classroom management issues are usually the result of (1) the student is bored, (2) a student is confused, (3) I’m not providing enough structure with my activities, (4) I haven’t made clear the expectations for refocusing, or (5) the student is purposefully trying to disrupt class. I should be able to fix all of those in the moment except (5).
- The farther you distance yourself from direct instruction, the more likely it is that your lesson will be a disaster. At the same time, the more you distance yourself from direct instruction, the more likely it is that your lesson will be phenomenal.
- The biggest factor in the success of an activity/project is how explicit your directions are and how much you model (1) how to start and (2) what the finished product will look like
- Have enough examples prepared that you could teach the lesson for 2 days if necessary.
- It’s okay to tell a student no. To answer their question after class. To wait until Monday to grade their exam. That the question will be answered in a moment when we’re full-group again. I don’t need to answer every question all the time right when they ask it.
- Making a new seating chart is the most amazing stress reliever on the face of the earth.
- Part of teaching high school is teaching appropriate and respectful behavior in class and correcting inappropriate behaviors. It is appropriate to punish well-intentioned students so they learn the difference between what they perceive their actions to be and what their actions actually say about themselves or other people.
- Having posters of expectations and discipline procedures makes all the difference in enforcing them, especially in a student’s perception of ‘fairness’.
- For every 4-5 days of instruction, plan 1 day for an activity/project that has the students summarize/synthesize/practice the material from the last few days.
- Eat lunch every day
- While I should strive to reach those higher-level Blooms verbs with my students (create, synthesize, represent), there is absolutely a place for those lower-level verbs as I plan my curriculum. I can’t try to jump straight to the higher-order thinking without first creating a foundation in the lower-order skills. I wish someone had told me this before my first unit – it’s okay to plan formative assessments or homework assignments that are low-level thinking skills as students are becoming familiar with a concept.
- Having a concrete, measurable objective for each day of my unit really helps me avoid trying to pack too much material or activities into a single day.