Every year as the new year approaches, my mind is filled with a long list of promises I commit to making to myself. With each new year, comes a fresh start. While that sounds all fine and dandy, the reality of it is that most resolutions last a couple of days, maybe a month if I’m lucky.
This year, I’m switching gears. I’ve been itching to change things up in my classroom after we get back from break, so I’m putting my resolution energy into some small, realistic changes that will be (hopefully) easy to make. Here we go:
1. Guided reading groups first thing in the morning: Our language arts block is a bit broken up a few days a week this year due to specials and Spanish, so I’ve been experimenting with 2 reading groups first thing in the morning during morning work. This way, we aren’t so rushed to fit them in during language arts block on those jam-packed days.
2. Better record-keeping. I’ve definitely improved the pace with which I grade things, but I’d like to find a system of record keeping that really, truly works for me. I’ve tried anecdotal notebooks, sticky notes/labels transferred to grade books, checklists, you name it! I have a few ideas up my sleeve and will really focus on consistency of one method.
3.More “craftivities.” This is what first grade is all about! In the shuffle of assessments, specials, paperwork, and state standards, it’s easy to lose sight of the true spirit of the classroom. We’ve done craftivities regularly but I’d like to incorporate more! Here is one we did for our Leo Lionni author study unit:
4. Weekend Reads program. We practiced this the week before break, and I’m super excited about it! Every week, the students take home the books from their guided reading groups in their “Book Buddy” bag. Beginning this upcoming week, students will “shop” every Friday to choose 2 books to take home for the weekend. For now, these books will come from our take-home collection, but as we exhaust that supply, we can eventually move on to classroom library books. This also helps to reinforce books that are “just right” for the kiddos. For an awesome chart for the classroom, check out this little treasure I found for free and LOVE!
5. More notes home. I love sending personalized positive notes home and am typically good about this, but need more of a systematic way to track who gets notes when. I’m thinking I will send one per month for each student. I will begin each month with a box of note cards already addressed to each student. This way, I can peek in the box to see who still needs a note sent home 🙂
6. Keep my e-mail box cleaned out! How awful is it when I go to send an e-mail super quick in between transitions or while the kids are at lunch and I have to spend 5 minutes just cleaning out old e-mails in order to send a new one? Our district uses Outlook and it fills up FAST.
7. Take more pictures! I am hit or miss with this. Some days, I feel like the classroom paparazzi, while other times, there are no pictures for days! I also need a better way of organizing the pictures once they are taken. I’ve downloaded Dropbox, so that is a start. Any suggestions about how you organize pictures from your classroom? I’m all ears!
8. Smoother end of the day transition. I don’t know about you, but our last 10 minutes are completely bananas! Sheesh! I plan to implement the end of the day jar in hopes of calming the excited little ones. This will also be a good reflection time for our class. I am interested to see how this goes and will keep you posted!
9. Stay more organized. This will be on my list for the rest of my life. Every year, I get better, but every year, I find more areas for improvement. Such is the life of a teacher! This is one of my most favorite organizational epiphanies this year–more on this later 😉
10. Blog more! This isn’t directly related to the classroom, but it is an educational goal of mine. It does indirectly benefit my classroom, as I gain ideas as well as share them, so we will count it. The more you blog, the more you know 🙂