After exactly two months out of my classroom, I spent two marathon days in my room at the beginning of the week. It was a little odd to be back after so long away, but I have quickly found my way back into “school mode.” The past two days have been full of sifting through all of the papers that I held onto during the year, organizing materials, and shifting furniture. I will post some pictures of my new classroom layout at some point next week. I am already being much more intentional about making sure that my classroom arrangement and design lines up more smoothly with my personal theory of learning — I’ve put almost nothing on the walls to ensure that the students have plenty of room to display their creations and I’m situating their seating arrangements far differently than I did last year. I am hoping that it will be a learning environment that will grow with us during the year, rather than confining us and our thinking.
We had a school staff meeting on Monday, so I was also able to get all of the scheduling information that I needed to plan my schedule for the year. I’m going to be trying out a few new things in terms of shaping the learning time, including an “Independent Learning Time” in the afternoons, where students will be able to work on any project of their choosing or continue to work on other things that they may have started earlier. I’m also going to be making sure that I do one Spanish lesson a week with my students — my school doesn’t offer foreign language, so I’ve been studying up so that I can teach them myself!
My weekly schedule breakdown looks like this (at the moment, anyway). We actually have a pretty long school day, but I’m already feeling really worried that I won’t have nearly enough time to fit everything in — my units tend to be long, interdisciplinary, and quite involved… We’ll see how it goes!
I start my official staff requirements at school next week. As a final summer hurrah, I am heading on a trip to Canada this weekend. I haven’t been since I was really young (and have no recollections whatsoever about the trip), so it will be exploring somewhere new for the first time, which I love. I’m going to be visiting Quebec City and Montreal. It should be a great way to wrap up the summer!
I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip to Canada, and I wish you the best for the new school year. I love that you have left space to display student work. I always had work on the walls before first break on the first day. I believe it helps give children a sense of ownership, as well as belonging, when they see their work displayed and valued. I can see what you mean about a full schedule, and your school day appears to be an hour longer than I have taught. Our day was five hours of ‘lessons’. I like that you have made time for children’s own projects. I always liked to incorporate time for negotiated tasks, though it was getting rather more difficult to do so in recent years. I always thought it was more a matter of what to leave out, rather than what to put in. There was never any shortage of things to do! I wish you and your students a happy and successful year. 🙂
Thanks, Norah! Yes, I am lucky to have a somewhat longer school day — I’m pretty sure that no matter how long it was, though, I’d still feel like I couldn’t get through everything! I agree with you completely that arranging a schedule is often about trying to decide what you can’t squeeze into such busy days — I am worried that I’m going to have to cut so much this year because I am re-doing the beginning of the year entirely. (Hopefully it will be worth it.)
I look forward to hearing about how you are re-doing the beginning of the year! 🙂