We have now had our first two days of school and we’ve gotten off to a solid start. This year marks a few changes for us. Last year, my classroom was in another wing of our school, beside our other grade 4/5 class but sharing the hallway with our junior high (gr. 7/8) kids and our IPSA class (a program for students with autism). This year, we are in another part of the school, with our grade 5/6 class, and we are the only 4/5 class in the school this year. We are in a part of the school with 4 classrooms but only 2 classes, which means that both the 5/6 class and my class have the luxury of having 2 rooms at our disposal. This is a really positive change. It will be interesting, as the year goes on, to see how we use our spare room. Right now we have some rectangular tables in the room for group work, a horseshoe table, a standing desk, and enough chairs for about 10-12 students. Lots of opportunity there, I think having that room will be a huge positive for our class. The one thing, I wish there was more of was technology, ie. computers… We are still waiting on the installation of a desktop computer in that room at some point, though we do have access to the netbooks to share between students in my class and the 5/6 class. They can be slow as molasses, but they’re better than nothing.
For my students, this year is a big change. None of them have been in this part of the school before. Most, if not all, have had classes on the first floor of this wing, but not in the specific spaces we’re in. This is a positive, in my mind, because they aren’t used to it being used in one way or another. We can make it what we want, it’s like a clean slate in a way.
Another change for my students is that it’s the first time most of them have their own desk. Our primary classes use tables and I used tables in my class last year. This year, because I have more students and a (slightly) smaller room, I don’t have room for the tables without sitting 3 students at each rectangular table – which, in my opinion, loses the advantage of tables for middle years (or almost middle years) students. Thus, we have desks. It’s an interesting challenge, as it requires much more by way of organizational skills from the students and, by extension, more explicit teaching from me about how to learn those skills. We have spent much of our first two days starting to get organized. I can already tell that it’s going to take a lot of work from all of us. It’s going to be something that I have to keep in mind throughout the year.
During our first two days, we’ve seen some really positive things from the kids. The top three things I’ve noticed so far:
1. They help each other. The kids seem genuinely interested in working together and helping each other. This is great. It’s setting a tone that will help us as we go through the year.
2. They like to read. We started our first introduction to Daily 5 on Friday and learned about and practiced Read to Self. It looked like the majority of the class was really getting into the silent reading. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that all 27 students are going to be perfect readers right from the get go, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s definitely a credit to the teachers who have taught these students before me…
3. We don’t implode during indoor recess. Our first day of school was a rainy day and we had indoor recess. I was happy to see that, with some coaching, everyone was able to find an activity they were happy to do and it seemed like we had enough of a variety of things to do to keep everyone interested. While this might be challenged when we get a string of -35 days in January that keep us inside for a week straight, it’s a start.
On that note, bring on the first full week. We’re ready.