I teach in a very diverse suburban district, so I have a mix of races/ethnicities in my class, which is super awesome. I love diversity, especially when it means I get to have a British student with a cool accent! I've had one both years. This year, I almost laughed with glee when the boy said his favorite book was "Harry Potter" in his proper accent.
Aside from appreciating the diversity of my students this year, I will be honest that I feel very challenged by this group of students. I have a LOT of strugglers in reading, math, and the whole sitting still and listening thing. Out of my 20 students, 6 go to the reading intervention program, which means that they are pulled out for 30-40 minutes every day. The crazy thing about that is that they go in THREE different groups. That means, that I have to remember to send 3 different groups at 3 different times!! Plus, I have to re-teach them whatever they miss when they are gone. There is not enough time in the day to do it all!
In addition to having low readers, I have some other challenging kiddos. I consider it a good day when I don't have to tell one boy not to jump around the room like a monkey and when I only have to say "Please sit criss-cross applesauce," 30 times instead of 80!
Then, there are the criers. I have a real cutie pie who I love, but get so frustrated with because he cries MULTIPLE TIMES EVERY DAY!!! It's always, "Miss Hoffman....I...I...can't find my crayon," or "She said she saw me at Disney World and she didn't!" He seriously said that, or actually whined it as the tears started to flow.
I also have a motor-mouth. I honestly wonder how many words this girl says every day. It's got to be double what I say, and I'm the teacher! I'm the one who is supposed to be talking! Don't get me wrong, I am not a dictator who expects the kids to be silent, while I walk around with a pointer and give a lecture. No way! We have tons of interactive discussions and cooperative learning! However, I expect that when I am talking/teaching the whole class, the students should not be. Is that too much to ask? I think not.
Thankfully, I have a quiet signal that generally works. I use "Give Me Five." I got the idea from Harry Wong's Book, The First Days of School which I highly recommend to new teachers. I teach students to "Give Me Five" first thing after the parents leave on the first day of school. I explain to them what the 5 means (see picture below) and then we practice. I tell them to go back to work, and then I call out "Give Me Five" and expect them to stop, look at me, and listen.
Another procedure I kept from last year, but adapted, was my pencil/supply procedure. Last year, I had the typical Dull and Sharp jars for pencils, but found that students kept making excuses to come up to switch pencils. It wasted time. Plus, the kids work the pencil sharpener to the point of exhaustion. I had to buy a new one this year. So, this year, I opted to use supply caddies. Each table group has their own caddy full of pencils, erasers, dry erase markers, extra scissors, and glue sticks. That way, if a student's pencil breaks, he/she just does a quick swap with a sharp one from their caddies. The Table Captains are responsible for collecting the dull pencils to put in the Dull can and for replacing them with new ones from the Sharp can.
The last procedure I want to share is my bathroom routine. I got the idea and the pass signs from 3rd Grade Thoughts. The kids show me the bathroom signal, which is crossing their first two fingers and holding them up silently. I then nod for "yes" or shake my head for "no." If I nod, the student takes the appropriate hand sanitizer pass and puts it on his/her desk. Upon returning, he/she gets a pump of hand sanitizer and then returns the pass. It's a totally silent and seamless (usually) process.
Well, this post is long enough, so I will wrap it up. Before I go though, I want to say that I do love each one of my students and know that God has placed them in my care for a reason. I am praying that He will help me keep a positive attitude even when the students are challenging. I was really encouraged earlier this year by two posts from Heather's Heart. Click the links below to read the two posts.
Well, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for a tour of my classroom. I promise to upload some freebies soon!