Sunday, August 13, 2017

It's AUGUST... BREATHE!

Twas the night before school starts and all through the halls,
the teachers were scurrying to attach things to walls.



August is here and with that school is starting!  

Many of you readers are hustling and bustling to work your magic to prepare your classrooms for your new batch of students.

This busy season can be stressful for teachers, students, and parents alike.  

Stocking the fridge with lunches, making that fifteenth trip to Walmart today because you forgot to buy tape for that bulletin board, and staring at the jammed copier wondering how in the world you will tell the secretary you broke it…. AGAIN…..stress-FULL!

As you prepare for the school year, let’s keep what truly matters in mind:

You are here to TEACH your students.  

Your room doesn’t have to look like a Lakeshore catalogue, or better yet a pinned Pinterest picture.  

Let’s not compare ourselves to others-, but rather be okay with the fact that we are doing what’s best for OUR students.

I asked my consultant, Noelle, to snap a few photos around her school so that we can talk about STUDENT centered classrooms vs. Pinterest inspired classrooms.  (By the way, Noelle’s first day with students was August TENTH, y’all!)

Let’s take a peek inside her school, shall we?



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Notice this teacher’s bulletin boards?  They are empty.  That’s right.  It’s meet the teacher night and there is nothing on them but the content subject.  Why? you might ask. Because her students have yet to learn in her classroom!  We want our walls to anchor student learning and remind them of the things we have taught them.  

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In my classroom, I always like to put a sign up that says “Coming soon” and “help wanted” on all the bulletin boards as to say “We will get to this ASAP!”


Now, some teachers theme their classrooms each year and spend hundreds of dollars on decorations.  That’s really incredible but not NECESSARY!  You can put your own personal flare in your classroom and inspire your students without draining your bank account.  Take a look at these two classrooms with growth mindset language already plastered to the walls!

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When you are setting up your classrooms-spending time stapling bulletin border- I would encourage you to think about the necessities for learning!  

At the foundation of a Balanced Literacy classroom, you need a carpet to gather students together, a place to display an anchor chart, desks (either in pairs or table groups for collaborating), space around the room for independent work, a classroom library, and a space/table for teaching a small group of students.  

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Typically, in our classroom libraries we have baskets of books labeled by genres (THINK: Just like at Barnes and Noble) for students to browse.  

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In my classroom, I always like to have my students sort and organize my books on the first day of school, making this a student-centered classroom library.  During meet the teacher night, I always put ‘caution’ tape around my library and the sign “library under construction- help needed!” This sends the message that my new students’ opinions matter.


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On the second day of school in this third grade classroom, the teacher introduced the parts and pieces of writing workshop.  The mini lesson was spent teaching students what to expect each day during the workshop and expectations were set for third grade writers.  Then writing workshop was launched and students went off to their desks to build their stamina!  I love this visual for students (and teachers/admin as well!) to see the majority of their time will be spent putting words down on paper!  

You’ll notice this teacher doesn’t have a fancy Lakeshore learning easel in her classroom.  Instead, she was creative and used pins tacks to hold up her anchor chart pad.  

You guys, it does not need to be fancy!  It just needs to BE in order for your to TEACH!

As you are preparing for your students, ask yourself “Will this add to the quality of teaching and learning?” if so GO FOR IT.  But if the answer is ‘no, this is just a cute idea I saw online’ then please please please do not waste your time.  

Your students deserve a learning space that is tailored to them.  Can it look cute? Sure.  But it doesn’t have to at the expense of draining all of your precious time and energy (and money!) before school starts.

And let’s be honest, as soon as the students step into your classroom with school supplies, all that cuteness will fly out the window.  
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Get in the trenches this year without feeling burnt out before it even starts.  

Spend time making your classroom student centered, where every inch of the room reflect their learning! Wait for the kids to get there before you have everything on the walls!

I wish you a fabulous 2017-2018 school year! YOU'VE GOT THIS!

Cheers!

Melissa

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