Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teacher High

I went to school again today, to continue working on student placement. The past few years, my favorite part of the end-of-school closeout was putting my kids into classes for next year. This is largely because I am good friends with many of the fourth and fifth grade teachers, but it is also because I genuinely love my students and want so badly for them to continue to succeed. (Or in some cases - I'm not too proud to admit it - to succeed better in another teacher's environment than they did in mine.) I am also an obsessive checker-upper; that is, I constantly ask the fourth grade teachers how my former students are doing. In fact, I plan to email teachers from my old school after the first week to make sure everyone is surviving without me.

I must admit, some of the luster of making class rosters was lost today, since I literally do not know a single student. All we did was create lists that were balanced in terms of gender, race, and academic info (special needs, gifted, etc.).

However - my principal rewarded our hard (and unpaid) work by giving us a tour of the school, which isn't even open to teachers until Monday. I'm not sure exactly what room I'll have, but they are all large, open, bright, inviting, and more importantly - completely devoid of clutter. I am literally itching to get into the swing of things.

When I got home, I spent some time re-reading what I find to be the most useful and inspiring teacher book I've read. It's called The First Days of School, by Harry and Rosemary Wong. It reminds me each summer that the three characteristics of effective teachers are: 1. positive expectations, 2. good classroom management, and 3. effective instruction.

I find it interesting that effective instructional design is third, but I can attest to this fact in my own career. I did pretty well for a first year teacher, I guess - at least, other people at my school told me so. I didn't read Mr. Wong's book until after that first year, and I can't TELL you the difference it made when I began that second year. I came in much more prepared and spent much more time creating, revising, and then teaching students a comprehensive management plan. I made routines and procedures so that students could manage themselves and always knew what to do. It worked like a charm.

This school is going to be a very different experience for me in many ways. Though I have worked with students from many racial/ethnic backgrounds, I have not been in a school whose majority is African-American, and I have not had students whose parents do not speak any English. I do not know the Durham area well yet, and I'm not sure what to expect in terms of the socioeconomic background of these kids. I am going to have to rely on Mr. Wong's assurances in his book that his principles work for ALL students. Preparation is the key to success, he says. I will do my best to be prepared.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that the Boy Scout motto as well? "Be prepared."