We start my new classroom in 3,2,1…

I am all about a dramatic outside presentation of a serious learning environment. I want everyone to feel that giving anything less than their best in my room isn’t going to go over very well. It’s not intimidating, but it has to be a situation where everyone knows what to expect and that I believe they an measure up. I want the entrance of my classroom to Pop and Amaze. That being said I am going to pare down my interior classroom design. There’s a good reason, too. Harvey Specter would.

Many of you know that I am an avid “Suits” fan. It’s a smart, fun show. Lots of thought go into each character, their wardrobe, heck even their offices. There’s a reason Harvey’s office looks like it does. It’s meant to display a full and complete control of his environment. There isn’t a lot of wasted space. The art that’s there is meant to continue the theme that Harvey has his stuff together. So what if Harvey had a classroom? I don’t know, but I plan to give it my best shot this week.

Yes, I know Harvey Specter isn’t real. However, the attitude and control of situation he projects is real in deed. What if he had a classroom. What would it look like?

Rather than focus heavily on deluging my classroom with creative ideas. I think I’m going to keep it very simple, focus on function and usefulness of my design and finally present an attitude of “getting stuff done” throughout my room. There are going to be some “busy” spots. The overall thought of the room is Reading can be found everywhere.

What would Harvey’s classroom look like? Can I draw any ideas from this office? I think so.

I am going to add to my room through out the year. How it looks on Day 1 will be a finished project. However, how it looks on Day 21 will be added and improved. I have some great things that won’t be done in a week.

Pictures should be ready by Tuesday.

How’s your classroom coming along?

My new classroom

A new district. New school. New classroom. I’m looking for as many creative storage and decorative ideas as possible, but I’m not going to just pull them from Pinterest. I want this year’s classroom theme to be a darling of Pinterest and be 100% original ideas and content.  I’m expecting others to pin me all over their blogs, social sites and the InterWeb. That’s saying a lot cause my Super Learners themed room still is the most popular view on this humble blog.H

If you are creative and want to throw your hat in on this challenge, please comment. I’d appreciate your insights. Here’s the pallet. Now I need to just be creative.

The door has to be the best door entry I've ever done. Ever.

The door has to be the best door entry I’ve ever done. Ever. It has to SCREAM that we’re all about reading in this room. 

 

This hallway/entrance has to be intense.

This hallway/entrance has to be intense. I’m at the end of the hall, but I want this to be THE destination. I want other kids to say to my students “THAT’S YOUR classroom?” with awe and wonder. 

The room comes with SUPPLIES!

The room comes with SUPPLIES! The room already has lots of good supplies and materials. I just need to organize them. 

I have a lot of ideas for this space. Please know that it won't look like this long.

I have a lot of ideas for this space. Please know that it won’t look like this long. I have a teacher’s desk. You already know how I feel about that. Yuck. 

I need a curtain idea. My theme is going to be "All the things we can read"

I need a curtain idea. My theme is going to be “All the things we can read”

Pretty good storage closet in class

Pretty good storage closet in class. It needs to be organized so Day 1 has a mission already. 

 

Nice size closet.

Nice size closet. My coats, shoes and aprons have a home. Going to keep some other ready to go classroom supplies in here as well. A wide angle shot of the place I'll be calling home in a month.

A wide angle shot of the place I’ll be calling home in a month. So much to do. Check out the blue carpet!

Another angle of the room. Lots can be done with this space.

Another angle of the room. Lots can be done with this space. Did I mention that I have a restroom IN my class? (No reading in there, please!)

So many ideas. So much space.

So many ideas. So much space. This is going to be so much fun. Even better than Super Learners. 

Let’s go ahead and talk about this 2014-2015 school year

This school year’s body isn’t cold yet and I’m ready to start an autopsy. So much to say about this year!

  1.  Off the bat, this year was very, very challenging. There were the usual challenges, yes. There were a lot of others as well that no one saw coming. There were some unique behaviors that really left my gobsmacked. Wow, didn’t see that coming at all.
  2. The Common Core isn’t exactly what I want and I can understand the concerns about it. That being said CCSS makes it very simple to collaborate with teachers all over the country. Couldn’t do that before.
  3. Teachers can be some of the easiest people to work with. They understand the “struggle”. No one is trying to get over on another. We all see the importance of our role. I love my co-workers and my teamies. #MissMrsJonesAlready!
  4. Routines. Routines. Routines.
  5. Complaining about students not following the routines, isn’t teaching the routine.
  6. The more you talk about reviewing the routines as a punishment the more you’re going to have to teach the routines.
  7. Sometimes seeking and getting parents involved is a bad thing. The Helicopter Parent is REAL. But to that point when you have concerned, engaged, useful parents you’ve hit a gold mine.
  8. Turning water into wine was a major miracle.
  9. Do not assume that because you’re doing right/good/going above that people notice.  People will ignore them.
  10. CrossFit saved my sanity more times than I can count. I can not say how thankful I am to be coaching now. I get to fully decompress from the teaching day in a creative and tough way. Thanks Team CFSC!
  11. I need a classroom theme next year. Stay tunded.
  12. My anchor chart system worked like a charm. It’s just that next year I may have a lot less space. So back to the drawing board.
  13. Everyone without a book bag is not unprepared and everyone with book bag is prepared.
  14. A classroom of 17 that sees 9 students come and through the year is going to have a tough time building team.
  15. Meal prep also was spot on. It helped so much with keeping me fed so I didn’t start gnawing on chalk.
  16. Oh, Promethean boards are amazing!
  17. The more kids read on their own the more they understand. Grade level is good, but if they can’t read on grade get them reading in the area of focus on the grade level they can digest.
  18. Read the standards. Know the standards.
  19. Small meaningful projects have a lot of use and give you a lot more bang for your buck.
  20. Paperwork can be managed. I’m not certain I did a perfect job. I know I didn’t do a perfect job with paper work, but I can say I didn’t have a mountain to pass back on the last day either.
  21. Using Journals to capture all the in class work was a great idea. It also worked like charm for homework!  Now to fine tune it.
  22. There is zero reason for me to have a classroom desk what so ever. Not like I ever did, but you get my point.
  23. Get data, use data, get more data.
  24. Class Dojo is still the best thing cooking! I know there are other programs out there, but as a fore runner to those CD is still out pacing them all.
  25. Teachers should become scientists. So much can be done by applying the scientific method to teaching.
  26. People say things to male teachers that, I am confident, they don’t mean.
  27. I have so much fun with my bowtie game. I can’t really explain WHY as much as it just makes me feel like I’m on point. Given that most of the time I’m huddled up in the fetal position wondering why I do this. I need as much confidence as I can muster.
  28. The most challenging student needs love. They need to know that even at the basic level “this person cares about me”. They are going to make it tough, but they need to you to care about them.
  29. They also need some degree of respect. Even when they behavior in the most vile, disrespectful manners. “Going there” with them doesn’t do anything, but solidify that they have to act a certain way to “demand” respect.
  30. I AM STILL WINNING THE PENCIL WAR!

I do have some news I want to post about my teaching career. Most of my family, friends and co-workers know. I am taking a position in another school district closer to my house. I’ve never been apart of my school community. I will NEVER run into my students at the market or out with my children. So to get closer to home and my own kids I’m moving from APS in August. It’s been an enjoyable adventure. Besides all the tissue I’m going to use up on our last teacher day I’m taking some fond, fond memories. Thanks to everyone!

 

Back at it again

This school year has been RICH! I can’t really quantify every second, but trust me it’s been a wild ride. It’s been tough. It’s been rewarding and thankfully we’ve endured faithfully. The end is in sight.

I hope to have some news in a few days.  How has your year been? Are you finishing strong? Wondering what went wrong or is the Fat Lady singing her song?

Flip teaching on it’s ear

I like, no I really LIKE this poster. It sums up what I do everyday and puts a nice CrossFit bow on it. This isn’t from some high brow teaching conference, this is from a CrossFit meme. It’s something our head coach sent out. Most of you know that I now coach on the side and many of you know that endear this opportunity to help people reach their fitness goals.

There are some rich parallels to coaching and teaching. There are goods and bad, mind you.  My two greatest take aways this year are that this is the most important class I have, right now. Also that I need to be more intentional about how I mix up and vary my teaching without changing the overall outcome. There are so many ways I can enhance my lessons, flip the time, change the environment and even toss the lesson totally to make sure each student gets what they need. When break is over I will have just a little more than a 30 days left in this school year. I’m going to work on coaching these students and mixing up a lot of variables. Let’s see what the last 30 days bring.

Next year I will certainly start the year with pushing for more engagement. As in CF there are people who have to scale a workout in order to get any benefit. This year I focused so much on those students and not the over all lesson and that each student was getting better. Going to spend this Summer coaching learning how to scale so much better. Next year is my break out year.

How did your school year unfold for you this year?

Am I on the wrong side of the War?

 

This video sincerely voices my concerns for the boys in my class. I’ve always said that “school wasn’t made by a boy”. The very structure of MY class doesn’t encourage boys and really restricts them. That’s right I include myself. I’m just as guilty of trying to get my students to do exactly what I couldn’t do when I was 7-8 years old.

The part that struck home more than anything in this video was helping boys become readers. Every week we go to the media center and grab a new book to read. And just like following a script my girls get fiction feeling books while my boys get non-fiction books about snakes, cars or records. I didn’t think about how much they’re telling me with their book selections. Even when they’re allowed to go online with little direction most of them find material that’s about animals, cars, and the such. I have to do a better job of letting my male students be, boys.

The way school is organized it almost requires that I (a big boy) have to require these 10 boys do what they’re not even wired to do. However, the 6 girls in my room are almost perfect according to my classroom set up. I’m an accomplice!

My one area of concern is a missing cog in this machine. Parenting. The video didn’t seem to address any of the parenting methods that add, subtract or create some of the battlegrounds that boys must compete. We certainly need to discuss all our roles in helping boys be boys along with being functional parts of society.

I have to research and read more on how to organize my class to be more Boy Friendly. What do you think about this? Do you notice any differences in our society in regards to boys? Let’s talk about it.

 

What happened last year

The new school semester has started off so strong I haven’t had time to blog or to recount what happened last semester. Thankfully, I have a day off to think about it. Here’s what happened last semester in no particular order.

  • I don’t have a filing system. However, my crazy paper mess makes sense to me. I don’t LIKE it, but I can usually find things within a matter of minutes.

  • BOWTIES! What else is there if not bowties? wpid-20150109_175519.jpg

  • My charts are ROCKING! I’ve found them so useful this year. I do have them hanging in a system. System is to easy to understand! I think my co-workers have been poaching my charts!wpid-20140513_110035.jpg

  • My progress monitoring of struggling students is working. I can see where each student is and a have a plan for each one. I’ve even got a shout out a couple times for having my paper work on point.

  • When I saw that something didn’t work I didn’t try to make it work. I just dropped it and kept it moving.

  • My centers are so/so. I overhauled my Centers chart and now it just doesn’t make sense. Should have left it well enough alone. That being said the kids have great center time. They like it and they’re learning. I simply have to have a better rotation schedule.

  • I didn’t do a great job laying down the rules/procedures of the class. Some have picked them up, but the vast majority aren’t trying to do right.

  • We don’t go outside AT ALL!

  • I find myself busy most of the day. Not a lot of down time. That’s good. That’s bad.

  • MEAL PREP! Excellent idea. I don’t know who I picked it up from, but I’m glad I did.wpid-20141007_095025.jpg

  • My class isn’t on auto-pilot. I think this is a goal that I should let go of. My students more than likely aren’t going to be the kinds that will follow a schedule without someone pointing out to them to do it.

  • Keeping all homework in a spiral notebook was a great idea! Keeping all classwork in 1 spiral wasn’t as good an idea.

  • I’m so glad that they started the 4 week lesson plan. It makes it so much easier to plan.

  • Speaking of planning, I’m doing a pretty good job planning. I could always do better.

  • Class Dojo is perfect! So glad I didn’t give up on this.

  • I stopped asking dumb questions. Here are a few.

    • Did that make sense to you? (Of course it made sense to a 7 year old!)

    • Why didn’t you do ABC? (Because I didn’t want to!)

    • Do I need to call your mother/father? (Just call ’em don’t prime the pump)

2015 has started off perfect. I realize that last semester I spend a lot of time trying to get 4-6 students to do while the other suffered. This semester the 4-6 are going to have to get in where they fit cause I’m focusing my energy on those who want to be prepared. We only have 80 days of school left! No time to patty cake with those who aren’t trying to do what needs to be done.

No matter what I have just about 640 school hours to get as much info into the minds of these students. 3,2,1…go!

Working wounded

Anyone who’s worked 15 minutes knows what it’s like to work wounded. Maybe your physically sick, but you can’t take a day. You might really not “feel” like work today, but you also know you need to be there. You may have 1000 other things you’d rather do than go to work, but you go.

Many people also know what it’s like to still go workout because you love your sport, your committed to the challenge or someone is going to be looking for you. You’ve worked wounded.

Here’s a little kick in the pants to keep going after your goals and keep adapting.

Happy Topics

We’re in the midst of Thanksgiving break. I’ve unplugged in a major way. I didn’t bring any work home. I’ve only been on Pinterest a few times for school stuff and I’ve been to the gym more times than I’ve even thought about work. I’m on vacation and enjoying it big time.

This time around I’m preparing a pretty nice Thanksgiving spread. We have a lot to be thankful for this year. My big challenge is spacing out the cooks. I’m going to use the BGE as well as the oven and slow cooker. Turkey and pork shoulder will get the Green Egg treatment. Roast will be treated to several hours in the slow cooker. Everything else is going in the oven. I have it mapped out in my mind. We’ll see if that’s a good place tomorrow when I fire up the egg.

Crossfit has been excellent. I’ve been in there a lot. I feel stronger. Actually, I am stronger. My numbers are going up. If I can stay on task I should be able to get my body to show the improvements. I’ve been getting adjustments from our in house chiropractor. That was a great investment. Over all I’m very excited about my results.

Speaking of results. I need to see more with my eating. I’m doing great with the meal prep. This coming epic meal prep I’m going to make sure my portions are right as well as my basic nutrients. I ended the last meal prep by having a much bigger breakfast. That certainly made me feel full longer than when I had a small breakfast and relied on a snack to take the edge off. I’m getting all the water I’m supposed to. That’s strong.

I’m going also do a better job of preparing meals for dinner. No reason to save time making lunch everyday and squander that time having to make dinner when I get home. Might even look into crock pot meals or freezer meals.

Returning to work doing a much better job counting my macros so I have what I need and am not feeding what I don’t want. I should enter 2015 with a slightly smaller waist line.

How’s everyone’s break going?