Friday, August 19, 2011

365 Days Later

I've been in working in my classroom every day this week (yes, it's teacher work week). I've gotten a lot accomplished, but still have a LONG to-do list ahead. When I stop to think about it, it's still a bit scary how much needs done in the remaining two days I have before school starts, but then I remember where I was exactly 365 days ago, and then it doesn't seem so bad.

Rewind time to today, last year, and actually at about this time at night, was when I got hired by my new school. It was the day when the absolute crazy insanity of prepping for an entire year in just two days began! Looking back on it, I'm still amazed I survived it. It certainly wasn't my best year of teaching, but after coming out of the year feeling pretty burnt out, I have discovered my excitement for the new year has been returning over the past couple days.....and that's definitely a good thing!

For one thing I'm thrilled with the prospect of being exclusively a language arts teacher this year. I feel like this will be the first year where I'll truly be able to give readers and writers workshop my full attention.

New ideas of things I want to try are beginning to fill my brain. Partly inspired by trying to develop ways to cope with seeing 100 kids each day, some things I am also planning to revamp. So, what's new? Well, here's just a taste of two changes —

1. Reading Response Journals: After several years of having true journals (composition books), I'm getting rid of them this year. Although I haven't set it up yet (because I still need to research the best way of doing it), I'm moving them online. Whether it takes the form of a blog, or wiki, or a forum, our running chats are going to all be on the computer this year. I'm hoping it motivates my students a bit more, plus it will get rid of my most hated job — lugging journals home each weekend to respond to!

2. Conversation Calendars: Earlier this month, I happened to run into the idea of conversation calendars and immediately was intrigued. While I'm a little scared by the prospect of having 100 comments to read and respond to each day, I'm excited by the potential opportunity that it will bring: a chance to build more connections with my students. The basic idea of the conversation calendar is that students at the end of each class write a quick comment about what's on their mind. That might be an reaction, a question, an idea, feeling, etc. Then they turn them in, I read them, briefly respond, and they get the paper back the next day where the whole process repeats. I'm not exactly sure how it's all going to go in actuality (there's some logistical challenges), but I'm going to experiment and see! :)