It’s May 14th and in approximately one month, THE SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE OVER!
It’ll be my 17th year completed teaching the same grade (five) at the same school in the same room.
So, yeah. I need some change.
But not too much because I don’t really like change.
Here’s the plan. Stay in the same grade at the same school in the same room, but change up the schedule, the subjects taught, and the room configuration. For all of the 17 years I’ve been teaching, the two fifth grades in my school have always switched classes to get students ready for switching classes at the middle school and to play upon our own teaching strengths. I’ve taught Math and Writing for most of my time at this school with a side order of Social Studies.
Next year, I’ll teach ALL the subjects and keep my own homeroom all day. This has many advantages. I can have longer periods for each of the subjects because transition time doesn’t have to be factored in. If I want to extend a period to do a more in-depth study of a topic, I can because I’ll always have the same set of students. If I want to teach a topic across disciplines, I can. If I want to take a thematic approach, no problem. Project-based learning? You betcha. Time to address the emotional-social needs of students (which seem to grow in frequency and magnitude each year) will now be available because I will have a better understanding of my core students instead of trying (often unsuccessfully) to get to know twice as many students.
I’m hoping for a better connection to my class. I want to really immerse them in learning. The kind of learning where they don’t even realize that the end of the day has arrived. I feel as if this year’s students did a great deal of “clock-watching.”
Honestly? So did I.
Whether that was my fault or theirs, I'm not sure, but I don’t want that to happen next year. I’m looking for the type of teaching and learning that brings things into the 21st century and really ignites a passion for knowledge and discovery. I’m also hoping to arrange my classroom in a more comfortable, casual learning space. Something that promotes collaboration and innovation. I already plan to swap out my individual desks for larger tables in hopes to create a more laboratory, this-is-where-we-figure-stuff-out-cooperatively setting.
And I’m obviously psyched to be teaching Reading again. The opportunity to talk about books with students as both readers AND writers excites me! I’ll also get to dive into Science, which will be great because I’m head of our school’s Roots & Shoots Team and really would love to get more outdoor learning into the mix. And the Science Fair? Ugh. It needs a facelift in the worst way. We've already made it digital, but the students really need opportunities to think more about real-world problems they can solve or inventions they can make. Something more than which flavor of gum lasts the longest. Bleck.
With all the plans I have for next year, one hundred eighty days probably won’t be enough time to do it all, but I’ll channel the energy into making those days the best my new fifth graders ever had. I have all summer to strategize (while I’m not writing), and we’ll see how things go.
When does the school end where you live?
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