Now that Open House has come and gone, I want to start thinking about next year. I have a list inside a cabinet of some of the things I would like to get accomplished before school ends, all in anticipation of next year. I feel the need to think ahead rather than focus on the last 13 days. These last 13 days are going to be so busy and chaotic and crazy, but hopefully they will fly right by.
This year has been a bit of a disappointment for me. I had such high hopes for the year, but as my last post mentioned, it wasn't a great year in many aspects both personally and professionally. I have/had a tough group of kiddos both academically and behaviorally. Most of my kids were pretty good, but the ones who weren't gave us all a run for our money. (I had parents at Open House who were NOT in my class come in to tell me what one of my students has done to their children at recess. If I had a nickel for every time someone mentioned what this child has done, I could have retired on Friday a millionaire! That's how bad it's been with the behavior of this child - and he's never been suspended and rarely gets punished from someone other than myself.)
Anyway, I had the best intentions to implement Daily 5 into my schedule this year. We practiced the groups and rotations for weeks before beginning. Things seemed to be going well until I decided to really try working with groups during this time. And then I became the referee. I had students fighting with each other, students yelling and screaming and students who refused to do what I had asked them to do. It was ugly. It was nothing I wanted to be a part of. I felt like a failure. Actually, I still do. I have felt this way all year. 16 years of teaching and I don't think I have really felt this way since my 4th year of teaching when I ended up changing schools. This class has beat me up. But, I am going to be stronger from it next year and try again. I am going to take things even slower and really build a classroom community that I've always had in the past, I just didn't have to work so hard to get it. I am going to really make sure the kids know what is expected from them every minute of the day and not let them get away with anything, even if it means I spend all my recess and lunch time being the disciplinarian. I am going to make sure my kids know I am in charge and there will be consequences. I'm going to do my best to not be sick this year and miss almost a month of school! But that was out of my control, but that's when things really went out of control.
My students this year do not like writing. It's the bane of our existence. They don't like it. They don't care about it. They don't do their best. I've done more this year than in the past and they just. don't. care. I have 3 kids who LOVE to write. 22 look at my like I have 3 heads and speak Greek. It's awesomely horrible. But next year we will change it. We will take our time with it again. We will go slow and have some fun with it. I am going to bring back interactive writing more and let that do for a bit so kids can get used to writing before being made to write on their own all the time. I need to get parents more involved with their child's writing and get them to support me with their homework and making sure their child does what I am asking them to do rather than having them feel that whatever their child does is worthy of a Pulitzer.
I have not embraced the Common Core like I should have. We were not given any direction with it from the district, other than to go forth and do Common Core. Staff development meetings were useless, as the presenters don't understand Common Core any more than we do and tell us how to do things 2-4 grade levels above our grades. It was bad. Really bad. I became complacent and did what I have always done in the past and didn't push myself or my kids out of our comfort zones. I try a little more now that the year is almost over, but it's not enough for me to say I did Common Core. I need to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. I know for reading I rely to heavily on the textbook, but it's what I know and what I am comfortable with. My goal is to step away from it a bit next year and try new things to help get my kids really thinking about things rather than just doing things. I need to integrate my science and social studies more into my language arts, which is again outside of my comfort zone, but if I can make myself feel more at ease with it, then I think it would be awesome and we could have a lot of fun. Time and planning is what I need to make it happen.
I am hopeful that next year will be better. I know I will have some challenges in my room, but they will be different than this year. I am hoping for a kind, loving class rather than the rude, mean-spirited class I have now. I hope for students who really want to give 100% and try no matter what rather than students who give me 50% and are OK with it. I hope for parents who want to support their child's learning as best they can rather than parents who are too busy to answer the phone or return an e-mail. I have students whose parents I have not met at all this year and there are 13 days left - they couldn't make time to come to Back to School night, conferences or Open House. I just want parents who want their child to learn and be successful and at least know who their child's teacher is. I know I am asking a lot for next year, but it's what I would like. Please notice I didn't mention that I want my students at grade level - I don't mind getting low students. I just want students to try hard and work to improve themselves. I know that's something we need to instill in them and I try to do that every year. But this year, there were few who took the challenge to work hard and improve as best they could.
As I finish out this year, I am hoping to enjoy the last 13 days with my kids. I have had some great kids who have done well and are excited about learning. I have grown to like my class as the year has gone on, but sadly, I do not love my class like I have in years past. It makes me sad to feel this way, but it's the truth. It's not all sunshine and rainbows over here this year and that's a fact. I can ask many teachers at my school how they feel about their classes and I think a lot would feel like I do. Maybe it's the students, maybe it's administration, maybe it's us or a combination of all of it. But I am hopeful that next year will be better all around and a complete opposite to this year!