Early Takeaways From the 2019-2020 School Year

I’ve been back in school for almost a month now, and things are going pretty well so far. I made some changes to my teaching and classroom management approach this year that I talked about briefly in my last post. I already have some observations that I thought would be interesting and beneficial to share.

First of all, my use of a daily packet is going well. Most of my students are already used to the routine of coming to class and completing their Do Now assignment right away. It is really nice not to have to raise my voice to get students to sit down and get ready for class. I do have to work on how much time students get for a Do Now, as it is currently taking at least ten minutes of class. I think I will be able to shorten the time once those few students who haven’t figured out the classroom routine yet finally remember that they have something to do at the beginning of class. Visit my last post for more information about a daily packet.

Second, I have implemented traditional Storyasking in my classroom, and my students are responding to it very positively. As I said in this post, I felt very uncomfortable with the process because I felt that I couldn’t control it and also that I was not prepared to work with students who misbehaved during the Storyasking process. Well, after my day with Blaine Ray, my confidence level soared, and I have successfully started to include Storyasking in my classroom again. You can read more about the day Blaine came to my class here.

Third, I implemented Tina Hargaden’s lesson structure this year, which helps me structure my lessons logically and appropriately. I incorporate a LOT of what she talked about at the workshop I attended last month, especially her Write and Discuss technique (You can read more about my takeaways from that workshop here and here and more about Write and Discuss here). Write and Discuss has been especially beneficial in my French classes, because it helps my students make connections between the spoken language and the (very different) written language.

Fourth, I have incorporated more student jobs into my class than ever before. My students are still starting to develop routines surrounding those jobs, but the overall feedback I have received so far has been very positive. If you want more information about student jobs, you can read this post or visit Bryce Hedstrom’s blog.

And finally, I have adjusted the seating in my classroom so the classroom is easier to manage and more efficient. I have chairs and tables in my classroom, which I have arranged in the shape of a giant U. This leaves me with a large, vacant space in the middle of class, which is useful for many reasons. First of all, it creates lots of open space for me to wander through as I spot-check student work on their daily packet. Second, it is a great spot for student actors to use during Storyasking. And finally, it is large enough that I can have students take their chairs and form a deskless circle for various activities.

As I’m sure you can probably tell, I am pretty happy with what has been happening in my classroom so far. Of course, it’s still early in the year, so who knows what will happen as the year unfolds? I will certainly keep you posted. I hope you’re having a great start to your school year too!

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