Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Making Changes in 2018

Every year I plan to continue blogging throughout the school year.  Every year I fail.  Every year, when I finally get around to writing a blog post, I share my lament about not blogging regularly throughout the school year.  Here we are yet again.

Today I'm blogging about all the changes that I made/ am going through.

1.  My Pencil System
I've updated my pencil system yet again.  I actually never shared my current pencil system on my blog before. 
I like to keep it simple.  I (or more accurately a student volunteer that receives community service hours) attach a piece of mini-duck tape to the top of each pencil to remind students that these pencils do not belong to them.  Then I clip them onto the cookie sheet attached to my wall as shown above.  Students take a pencil for the period when they need one, and (ideally) they put it back at the end of the period.  I know so many people like to have students write their name on the board when they borrow a pencil, but (a) I don't have time to hunt students down at the end of the period to make sure that they return my pencils, (b) I don't leave markers out because I have students that draw (sometimes inappropriate things) on my marker board, and (c) my marker board is not even magnetic, so keeping the pencils on my white board is not even an option.  I like to keep my system simple, and just accept that I won't always get 100% of my pencils back.

My students this year seem to eat my pencils.  I put up new pencils every Monday, then by Tuesday I have 1 or 2 pencils left.  One day, while angrily ruminating on this issue, I remembered something.  I changed the title of my "participation" grade to "professionalism."  Students can earn up to 5 points each day, and one of those points was meant to be preparedness, but I never thoroughly kept track of it.  Once I remembered this, I reminded my students that coming to class prepared is part of their job.  Then I told them that should they ask me for a pencil or to go back to their locker for a pencil because all of mine had disappeared, they would lose their preparedness point for the day.  This may seem harsh, but it forces them to solve the problem on their own (borrow from a friend, pick-up the pencil in the hallway, etc.).  There is always a way to come to class with a pencil.  And realistically, it's only 1/25 of their professionalism grade for the week that is only 5% of their overall grade. 

2.  My Attitude
Every teacher anywhere knows that our to-do lists are never ending.  I always used to panic about getting all the things done.  There's just never enough time.  I'm in my 6th year of teaching, and I've finally realized something.  Anything that I needed to have done was completed in time because I prioritize.  Realizing this has been life changing.  I can cut myself off when it's getting late and I'm getting tired because I will have the most important things done when they need to be done, and everything else that needs to get done will have it's own time.  My new motto for this year has been "it will get done when it needs to get done," and this motto has brought me so much freedom.  I've also noticed that I've really mellowed out the past few months, and I think it's because...

3.  I'm expecting!
Between the change in my attitude, having more experience as a teacher, and my involvement in the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, I finally feel ready to start a family.  It has been a fear of mine that I wouldn't be able to have a family of my own because teaching is so time consuming.  I'm sure that it will continue to be time consuming, but I feel that I can manage it so much better now than I ever did before.  In fact, most nights when I come home I don't have too much to do to prepare for school, and I need it to be that way right now because I've reached an all new level of exhaustion.
At this time I'm in my 19th week.  I'm due June 30th and will begin my third trimester as we *hopefully* start spring break.  My last day of school is June 22nd, so it will be fun to see what happens there.  I'm having a boy!  My husband and I are beyond excited, and enjoying the uninterrupted sleep when we do have it. 

I vlogged my experience as a teacher through my first trimester, and will continue to vlog through my second and third trimesters.

4.  My Classroom Management 
I saved this one for last because I am still working through this change.  I thought classroom management was one of those things that once you had it under your belt, you were done.  Not so much.  This year I learned that your classroom management techniques/style will continue to evolve with you.  One thing is guaranteed to change each year - your students.  My students this year are drastically different from the students I've had in the past.  In my Geometry classes, specifically, the boys outnumber the girls 2 to 1.  As I'm sure you can imagine, it makes my classes unusually difficult to manage compared to the years where my numbers are more even.  It is February, and I am still trying to adapt and find something that works long-term.

To add to my difficulty, I have been suffering from pregnancy congestion since we've returned from winter break.  (Fun fact:  Pregnant ladies don't get antibiotics.)  I've had a persistent cough and sometimes stuffy/runny nose.  This means that I've also had varying degrees of a sore throat and voice loss.  I still cannot use my teacher voice.  The bright side is I have no excuse to not work on talking less, which is a goal I've had for awhile. 

I currently have some solutions to try out for the next week.  Once I find something worth sharing, I will write a follow-up blog post.

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