Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Behavior Management

School has been in session for over a week and, while I know the kids in your class are sweet baby angels that love to sit still and practice their handwriting, I have found that some sort of behavior chart is necessary to make the day go smoothly. A lot of people remember something like this when they were growing up (I know I do):

I STILL remember the day I was told to move my clip in first grade. Strikes fear  in a child's heart.

It's just so tragic when you get on red, isn't it? Well say goodbye to the traffic sign and HELLO to the pocket chart!
TADA! We love pocket charts in elementary school! 
A little close-up to see the tallies.

Ok so here's how it works. Each child has a pocket with their name printed on a card (blacked out in the picture). When they come in in the morning, they take a little yellow person and put it in their pocket. BOOM. Attendance at a glance. Then, throughout the day, they can earn good tallies or bad tallies for their behavior. Good tallies stay in their pocket all day, but bad ones can be earned out if they "turn it around and make better choices". If you want to make one, the tallies are just strips of laminated construction paper, and the little people are also laminated construction paper. The name cards are about the size of business cards and have each child's name written on them. Hang up a pocket chart and you're good to go! Here's a breakdown of tally options posted above the chart:

Hmmm are you making appropriate choices today?
The biggest thing I've learned about discipline the past week has been to be super firm the first month or so. Every experienced teacher I've talked to has told me that if you don't assert your authority at the beginning of the year, the kids will eat you for lunch (or as one teacher put it, "eat your lunch". Not sure which is worse!). So our policy has been one warning and then a tally! As we give bad tallies, we jot down a note on a pad of paper so we can remember what it was for and so we know if someone gets it taken out. For example, we would write: [Jennifer- yellow (talking in line going to recess)].  At the end of the day, we write in the planner about good and bad tallies, even if they get it taken out for turning it around. If you want more deets, here's the letter sent home to parents explaining it. Hope discipline is going well in everyone else's classes! Good luck and don't let the kids eat your lunch haha!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Oh. Baby. What a week. I appreciate Friday afternoon sooooo much more than I used to! But I've had a great time and it's been an absolutely wonderful week full of learning- and I think the kids learned some too ;)

Biggest thing I learned? The three/thirty-three rule. It's something our principal says and it means that the first 3 weeks of teaching and planning will decide how your next 33 will go. Such a great reminder! Now is the time to set up the room; teach the procedures, rules, expectations, and discipline; plan the curriculum; and begin assessments. I can already tell that living with 3/33 in mind will help immensely come October, February, April, and other super busy times!!

For fun, here are some pictures of how our classroom is set up:
The kids started in pods, but now we're trying a U-shape

These are our computers and manipulatives along the back wall. Also some bean bags for reading, and our own bathroom!

My own desk(!) and the classroom library with bulletin boards just waiting for student work

The front board and a glimpse at our behavior system (pocket chart on the right)
 Some of the things we did this week were fun: read-alouds, writing activities, get-to-know-you activities, practicing procedures, and time on the computer. Some of the things we did this week were less than fun: math and reading probes (basic assessments for us to see where they are), FAIR assessments, sight word assessments, and STAR reading assessments. Yes. First week and we're already testing to get a baseline. Just a glimpse into 21st century education! I taught a little blurb on social studies, did a read-aloud, did some assessments, and monitored the kids. Definitely not sitting back and observing this year! Woohoo!

So to wrap it up, I love my kids, I'm learning a ton from my mentor teacher, my team is great, and I think I'll go back next week ;) I'll leave you with this picture, hopefully you'll love it as much as my kids did. Haha!
Ms. Douberly in second grade!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Confession Time

Wanna hear my sad and pathetic confession? I had zero idea what teachers did during planning week. If I was forced to guess, I would offer up a weak "um... plan?" and then shrug and hand over my elementary ed diploma in shame. But fear not. I have learned what planning week entails. BOY HAVE I. All of you teachers out there are emphatically nodding your head and now I understand why. Announcement: planning week is not just decorating bulletin boards and sorting manipulatives (though that definitely happened). We just went through four solid days of hardcore meetings. Everything from faculty meetings, to meetings about common core (the new nationwide standards), to meetings about VAM, RTI/MTSS, FAIR, DRA, and CCSS. Y'all, remember when I said educators like acronyms? I wasn't kidding! But in all honesty, I found the meetings really interesting and was so proud of my widdle program at UF because I felt totally prepared to handle everything they threw our way. I was like "Oh! I know what that is! Oh! I know what that is, too!" It was so exciting!

In between all the meetings, we had some time to set up the classroom and would you just look how cute our bulletin board in the hallway looks?! (Recognize the saying? It's one of the 7 habits!) It's so fun seeing all the second grade rooms in our hall. Our hall bulletin boards are the best, though. We have turned our children into bees, frogs, owls, monsters, and safari animals. Just another Thursday in the life of a teacher ;)

You can also see we have a little owl from the board across the hall!
Teacher milestone! My first time introducing myself to the parents! In the past, I was in and out of the class so often we didn't bother introducing ourselves to parents, but this year, I got to add an addendum to my teacher's note and write a little hello. I feel like I shouldn't be this excited..... but I am! haha
Can you see my sweet little paragraph at the bottom? I felt like a celebrity signing 20 of these
Other than that, everything's been busy, but exciting. A lot of the teachers on my team are new or fairly new, so we're all asking questions and I feel a little less of an outsider. I can't wait to meet the kids tomorrow at registration and then start school Monday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Workshop till you drop!

Hello friends! So summer is officially coming to a close, as planning time creeps in on us. I had a GREAT weekend with some friends at a beach house in town- one of those weekends where you just sit outside and talk for hours with the sea breeze blowing in your hair (jealous yet?)
That blue in the background? Atlantic Ocean. Yup. Right there.
But the last three days, all the teachers from my school and a neighboring school got to go to a Covey workshop. I'm not sure if you're familiar with FranklinCovey, but it's the company responsible for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People books. They also do workshops for businesses and have a program for schools called The Leader in Me. This was such a great opportunity for us to work on ourselves so that we can implement stuff in our classrooms!

How can you NOT want to synthesize and be proactive with a tree like THAT?!
So while this was a fantastic workshop, my favorite part of the week was getting to meet everyone! Up to this point, I only knew my mentor teacher, principal, and three other teachers that sat in on my original interview. This week I got to meet my second grade team and other administrators in a relaxed setting. And let me tell you- the general atmosphere with the teachers at our school is fantastic! Everyone on my team was awesome and friendly and I immediately felt comfortable with everyone I met. The atmosphere at any job can definitely make or break how you feel about it and so far, I feel good :)

Onto my favorite part of this workshop. Do you all watch New Girl on Fox? Well, if you don't, you need to. It is one of my new favorites because I love love love Zooey Deschanel's character, Jess. The basic premise of the show is that Jess broke up with her boyfriend and moves in with these three guys she found on Craigslist. She's a sweet and kooky teacher and everyone else's quirks makes their apartment hilarious. In one episode, everyone's fighting so she goes and gets her "feeling stick". They don't respond well to the feeling stick.

Taken from here
Every angle to really capture its essence
Oh baby was I excited. My very own feeling/talking stick. Pro: its inability to be snapped in half by angry roommates (see above). Con: second graders can easily turn the talking stick into a weapon. I'll keep you updated on the implementation of said talking stick. Just know, The Leader in Me is a fantastic program and I feel super lucky I got to be a part of this workshop. I'm looking forward to finding ways to use everything we learned in the classroom now!

Two(ish) days left of summer, then the weekend (yay!), then planning officially begins!