Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Survived Term One - Reflection on teaching Year Two/Three Combo for the first time.

Eleven weeks.  That's a long term.  And I was doing well until Thursday of Week 11 when I got to school and realised I had made a big mistake going to school because I was actually sick.  So I didn't make my goal of a 100% attendance at school for Term One because the last day of term I was at home feeling yuck!!

But it does give one the opportunity to reflect on the term.  It was big and full of firsts and differences for me, and while I feel success in some areas, I feel there are a whole pile of "can do betters" in other areas.  I really sound like any teacher when I say that.

So here are my reflections....

Setting up the classroom

This was mammoth.  I compare what the class looked like at the beginning to now and I can physically see a huge difference.

Early January 
Before Auckland Anniversary Weekend

The day before school after my colleagues removed stuff from the room I didn't need and my brother had solved a few things.

Waitangi Day, Week 2 of Term One, it was starting to look like a classroom.

You can see I had my work cut out for me.  My class was in no fit state to start school on day one.  But now it looks great.  Not as great as it can, but I am making progress.

Classroom routines and relationships

Classroom routines and relationships really go hand in hand.  You can not establish routines without building a relationship with the learners, and you can not build that relationship without the boundaries of routines.

The students in my class are a lovely bunch of students.  They (usually) have manners and love to learn, but I've found it a challenge because they are not good listeners, I keep forgetting some of them are still five years old, I'm not used to teaching this level full time every day, my expectations were so high.  Note that a lot of my challenges are down to me - my expectations, my experiences, which became my greatest barriers this term.

I do not have everything in place at the end of the term within my programme I expected to have.  My reading and maths programmes are not consistent yet or where I want them to be.  Our newsboard, oral language, poetry, buddy reading and homework programmes are running well.  Our inquiry learning is interesting.  Our art is pretty darn good.  And writing is coming along well.

What we do have are expectations about how we will look after our class and each other.  We have a class that celebrates kindness.  We have a class who knows that I expect high standards and will not accept a half-pie job.  We have a class who can expect to be hugged when they achieve what I want them to.  We have a class who is taking note of what is happening n the world around them and starting to state their opinions with their own reasoning.

Classroom environment

At the beginning of the year, I had no tables or chairs for my students.  I did have a teaching table, a couple of shelves and drawers, a class library shelf and two teacher stations, a tote tray trolley, but not tables and chair for students.  I had no maths equipment either.

We ended up having to borrow tables and chairs from another school until things started to arrive later in February.

Our new tables, shelf and tote tray units have changed our class.  It's also changed how I have the student's books and personal belongings kept.  Thanks to the recommendations of colleagues on the NZ Teachers Facebook page I purchased those buckets for $2.78 from Mitre 10 Mega to house our different books and those sturdy bins for the pencil cases.  The bright tables changed the look of the room too.  I'm still waiting on the principal to decide on the chairs, because most of these are borrowed, so I do have a mix-match of chairs currently.

But the big change is in the art and work displayed around the room.  I truly believe that a classroom should reflect the learning that has been going on within it.

This was using a writing template from Twinkl. 
Writing and drawing about our best friends.

After our caretaker had put up the wires.

Added some writing and pictures in response to a poem about a pet banana.

Our holiday stories and art finally on display.

Pictures and writing in response to Gavin Bishop's books for NZ Readaloud.

More holiday stories and art.

More responses to Gavin Bishop books.

Balloons made in response to the Balloons over Waikato festival.
We had a few balloons floating over the school and the village that week.

On the coat hangers are the children's workings about the attributes of 2-D shapes.

It feels great to look at all the work completed and know we have achieved all that in eleven weeks and they did their very best and worked to my high standards.  We also have a backlog of a few things to achieve yet.