Goals for the new school Year

**This is not a crafting post; it's about teaching and assessments. If this does not interest you, I am not offended =P**

I can no longer avoid the Back-to-School sales. It's already August. I am trying to plan this year.

I have been with my district for 4 years this upcoming September, and I have taught the following:
  • Accelerated Biology (biology for the 'average' 10th grade student)
  • Accelerated Science 9 (physical science for the 'average' 9th grade student
  • Microbiology (junior-senior level elective course at an "accelerated weight")
  • Environmental Science (junior-senior level elective at an "academic (below accelerated) weight")
And this year I am teaching Science 9 (physical science at the "academic weight") and science 9 inclusion (the aforementioned course but with enough IEP students to have an extra person in the room (IEP teacher, aide, etc). As I mentioned in February, last year was my first year that was really unsuccessful in my eyes. I really did not like my job, and I was strongly considering quitting. It did not help that this year my salary is going to be reduced.

Originally, I told myself "well, then FINE". I will put in the bare minimum. Many of the teacher who have taught Science 9 told me to use their stuff and not make new stuff. And I really considered it...
But I couldn't. I am not someone who does a crummy job on really anything, so this past summer I have been buckling down. I almost have all of the material (Powerpoints, test, quizzes, worksheet packets, labs) for all of the chapters up to the midterm covered.

I am really worried about behavior issues (one of my biggest problems last year), so I've been reading up on teaching books. I re-read the First Days of School (I have two copies--one I got in college from our professor, and one I got as part of my new teacher induction program from the professional development staff).

I made a whole list of things I want to do differently this year from the book:
  1. Always maintain a "No EXCUSES" attitude--no more late homework. Ever.
  2. Create corrective assignments for tests
    1. If permissible, earn points (not full amount, but some amount) back on test?
    2. Mandatory?
  3. If showing a video, skip the dreaded WS but pause frequently to initiate discussion and quiz at a later date
  4. Post a daily schedule DAILY (I would be good and then stop for a week or more...) with learning objective, etc
  5. Chunk big research projects even better so no portion of the assignment is over 5 days long
  6. Start of the year with an email home (I did this every year but last year)
  7. Send an email home about each chapter (there is a parent letter with the textbook; I plan to modify that)
  8. Simple discipline reminder
    1. Smile.
    2. Observe stu's reaction
    3. Pause
    4. Say stu's name
    5. PLEASE (followed by request),stu's name
    6. Pause
    7. Thank you, stu's name
      1. I will have to practice this A LOT!!!
  9. Have the seating chart projected on the board the first day so they don't whine about being moved right away
  10. Have the first warm-up (I am trying to be cute by calling them brain energizers) be to fill in their info sheet
  11. Have THEM take attendance (beaker cutouts they can decorate; then they move from a folder to "present" on a bulletin board when they walk in
    1. Velcro? Magnets? Pushpins? Clothespins?
  12. Have 5 core rules--no more
  13. WEEKLY discipline (I think I was too forgiving last year giving 4 strikes DAILY)
    1. Name on board--warning
    2. Check next to name--email home
    3. Two checks next to name--detention to fill out behavior modification plan; parents called
    4. Erased every Friday
  14. Come up with a dismissal procedure and actually PRACTICE it and STICK TO IT
  15. Come up with an attention-getting procedure and actually PRACTICE it and STICK TO IT
  16. Use objectives for each chapter with test questions (I want to go into more detail, but I'll save it for another day)
Does anyone have this book? Has anyone tried the procedures? I am skeptical, and I worry they are juvenile, but I really want to try them.

Do you have any goals for things you want to do differently this year? One of the things that I like about teaching is every fall we get a new start...


miamihoney said...

Talk about a way to depress me. I kid, mostly. I have this book (2 copies too) but I haven't looked at it in yrs. I actually got a chance to hear Harry Wong speak one year. Really cool.
Things that I have done that work for me: greet and dismiss at the door every single class period, random positive notes (this yr I wrote index cards to every student in a class made a big production and allowed them a bonus of 20 mins freetime for being amazing) and keeping up a no late papers policy. Also use the support people- I have been the Spec. Ed teacher in an inclusion situation as well as the Classroom teacher so I am speaking from experience- allow the Spec. Ed team to assist you as much as possible. Most of them want to be 100% part of the classroom exp. I was reading some blog, which escapes me now, and she maintains a bright yellow ws that students must submit when they don't have their assignment, the ws goes in the pile with the collected assignment. She can use that when parents don't get while their child is doing poorly as the student has to write why the assignment is not there.
This turned into a novel, sorry :0

Meghan said...

No, no, it's super helpful. I like the excuse sheet to keep on file. Thanks for all of the other information!

Katie- Hems for Her said...

It always seems childish, but truthfully they are children- even at ninth and tenth grade! I don't have much to offer since I only have one year of experience on you, but I feel your pain!

The one thing I can offer is to go over the class rules every day for the first week or two and the punishments- quiz them, give them candy, whatever... make sure they know the rules and consequences.

Second thing is dismissal, I have made this my mainstay and when my Spec Ed teachers or my principals see it they are always blown away. One of my core rules is you don't leave or pack up until I tell you to. (This kinda ties in with another great rule- If they start off-topic talking while I'm teaching I start timing them. I'll just look at the clock and say, "Five seconds. Ten seconds", etc, etc. For every second that I can't teach they must stay in class silently AFTER the bell rings. They hate this so much, that within two or three times of staying they will police each other. I just have to glance towards the wall with the clock and the kids start telling each other to be quiet. I don't have to do anything. OK, back to dismissal. If they stand up, they must sit back down. If they try to leave, they are the last to leave. They don't leave that room until They are silent and I give them permission. They catch on quickly, you will always have that one kid that always jumps up, but again, the class polices not me. To the point that they will tell each other to be quiet and stay seated. I have always taught IEP heavy classes and I had a horrible class last year, but even they quickly realized they weren't leaving. One day near the end of the year I had a student up at my desk discussing a problem when the bell rang. Thirty seconds later we finished talking and every kid was still in their seats waiting to be dismissed. I almost cried! Good luck!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a solid list of intentions--make sure you can stick to them, I guess. (: I know that I always valued being treated like I was a functioning adult even though I was in that weird zone between kid and adult. Clear expectations and respect were all I needed from my best teachers.

The high schoolers I coach now respond well to much of what you have in your list in some form or another. Also, reminding them that if they waste your time (dismissal, during class, etc.) they owe you some of their time in return usually helps them straighten up. Katie's giant tome is also very accurate. (:

Meghan said...

Love all the ideas and input! Thanks so much/