Hello everyone and Happy New Year!
I hope you have had some fun with family and friends during the holiday and have gotten some rest and relaxation. Hopefully, we are all returning to school rejuvenated and ready to get back into its familiar rhythm and routine. This is a good time to reflect on things that have worked and things that might need tweaking. If you hang around me for long, you will notice I am always making lists, so I will try to share some of them with you this month.
Before I offer my first list for a general mid-year classroom ‘check-up’, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I happily and proudly represented CEC as the Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year in 2004. I’ve been teaching special and regular education (all ages and grade levels in five different states) for over 30 years and feel fortunate that my passion fits perfectly with my career choice. Currently, I share my teaching position with Pitt County Schools (as an Interventionist) and East Carolina University (as an instructor) in Greenville, North Carolina. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher and I encourage you to put that on your list for things to do once you have taught three or more years. On a personal note, I have a great family. My husband of 35 years and I have three children and will become grandparents for the first time in April!
Here is my first New Year’s gift to you—a mid-year ‘check-up’ for your classroom:
The Physical Environment:
- Are all student work areas in view?
- Does the classroom environment allow flexibility for student groupings?
- Are there areas for individual student work?
- Is it organized and clutter-free? Can things be found easily?
- Is student-created work on display?
- Can all students easily access needed materials and equipment?
- Is the environment comfortable (e.g., seating, lighting)?
- Are noise levels working? Are earphones available when needed?
- If other adults work in the room, do they have a space to work and keep some materials?
The Academic Environment:
- Does planning with colleagues occur regularly in advance to coordinate lesson objectives and to monitor student progress?
- Are plans and materials ready for the next day?
- Are the needs of the learners always considered in planning lessons?
- Are objectives stated clearly? Are they posted in the room?
- Does the presentation style of lessons vary to engage diverse students?
- Are students offered choice in the way they engage in learning activities?
- Is wait time built in for responses?
- Do the students receive specific positive and corrective feedback?
- Is technology infused into lessons?
The Social Environment:
- Do any rules and procedures need to be revisited, deleted, or revised?
- Does the classroom management plan need revising?
- Is there a working system for frequent parent/home communication?
- Is cooperative learning and peer tutoring taking place regularly?
- Are transition procedures working?
- Do the students know what they are good at?
- Are student successes celebrated?
- Are teachers enthusiastic?
- Is the classroom a safe place to take risks in learning?
In closing, here are just a few questions just for you:
- Am I taking care of myself?
- Am I saying “no” enough so I don’t over-commit?
- Am I hanging around positive people?
- Have I identified a positive role model that I can go to for help?
- Do I thank the people who support me?
- Do I believe in every student I teach? Do they know it?
If you see some items on the above lists that need attention, pick out one or two things to work on that you feel are most important. My next list will offer simple interventions/tips you can make using common objects. See you soon!
Thankful for you,