Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reflection Section!

Summer is here in Florida! The pool, the afternoon storms and the smell of BBQ is all evidence that school is out and it is summer! I consider myself lucky because I did not have to do any post planning this week. Our principal let us do all post planning after all the early release days last week.  While some of you are hoping for a Bachelorette post, it was not on this week. The Miss USA pageant and the Tony Awards ruled the airwaves. Apparently no one seems to care about Andi anyway. Kidding. Anyway, I figured I could use this time to reflect on my first year of teaching. Hopefully, you can help with some feedback for my second year!

First things first -- I was taught to reflect on the positive first!

What worked:
Lesson Plan template: My lesson plan template that I designed at the beginning of last year worked so well for me. It was nice to have a consistent and organized lesson plan format. My administrator made sure to mention that he appreciated my consistent and neat weekly lesson plan. It was easy to edit and change things. It was a simple and colorful excel spreadsheet, but you would be surprised how simple format can be better!

Erin Condren Lesson Planner: It was not until January that I bought this gem. I am so happy that I did! As much as I wish she designed an edition for secondary teachers, I was still able to adapt it to my needs. On our attendance software I was able to print rosters of each class and staple them into my lesson planner. Each week & day I was able to keep track of where each class is at in class and write notes for students if needed. It came in handy when my administrator asked for my notes about a student at the end of the year. Cover your butt, people!! Document. Document. Document.

Procedures: I established procedures at the beginning of the year. This could go to the things that I will need to do better as well, but I will explain later. As a first year teacher, I was not sure what my "peeves" were, or which procedures were important to me. It was hard to figure it out. I did seek the help of my coworkers and I was able to establish a good sense of classroom management.

What didn't work:
Procedures: Now that I know how my classroom was last year, I am more comfortable implementing procedures based on my teaching style. A teacher once told me, "Your first year teaching is mostly figuring out your classroom management style, and the second year, you focus more on the curriculum." I could not agree more.

Interactive Notebooks: These worked for me, but not the way I anticipated. The composition notebooks fell apart before the end of the first quarter. I also kept the Table of Contents on an erasable white board. Aside from keeping the students more accountable for their materials, I would consider assigning students an "absent buddy" (so they have someone to get missing work from) and keeping a large poster paper record of the table of contents in their binder Interactive Notebooks.

Notebook Checks vs. Grading individual papers: How do you do it? This year I checked notebooks, almost like a "surprise" check. I thought about making a notebook quiz that would determine how put together their notebook was. I am looking for your insight!

I am welcome to any advice that I can get! I appreciate each of my readers more than you think!


  1. I find that every year I change and grow...even after 16 years. It's so important to reflect and you are doing that. Kudos! I find things that really bothered me when I first started teaching don't really bother me as much anymore. I used to make my kids sit up straight in a chair while working. Then I learned that doesn't matter. It's okay for them to sit how they are comfortable, as long as they are engaged. Do whatever procedures work best for you. We all have different teaching styles..that's the beauty of teaching. Some things I do with some classes work and and some classes...not so much. I guarantee you will go into your 2nd year more confident than the 1st. I'm proud of you for knowing how to use Excel. I haven't a clue how to use it. I use planbook.com for my plans...love it!
    Happy hot summer my fellow Floridian! xo
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. I LOVE when you comment on my blog posts because I gain so much insight from you! I am slowly becoming one of those teachers who become a binder person. I love the organization those teachers have, I just have to pull through.

      Make sure you apply that sunscreen! The sun has no mercy. My face found that out today...

  2. I couldn't agree with Alison more! The things that drove me crazy when I first started teaching rarely bother me now! The one thing I do have a peeve about is being disrespectful … this has been the one that has stuck for me! I think they should not only be respectful of adults but of their peers as well. You will figure it out! I tried interactive notebooks this year for the first time too! I liked them, but I only used it for math, and we kept it in our regular spiral bound notebook. I didn't really notice that many students losing or tearing them apart. The few that did were already my unorganized kiddos anyways!! I will probably use the interactive notebook again next year, but only for math! And this time I will pick and choose more what goes in since it can be so time consuming. Enjoy your summer break!

  3. Such a great reflection upon the completion of your first year. How I wish I was blogging back in 2004 when my first year ended! Being a reflection practitioner (imo) is one of the most important qualities of an effective teacher. Working alongside all the teachers in my building now (i'm a literacy coach) I'm able to see that not all teachers are reflective - but that's the best way to grow as an educator!

    I agree with the other two who posted as well - what may or may not bother you now may or may not in the future - that's the beauty of teaching - we always get to wrap up, have summer break, and begin again. It's a great feeling knowing you can improve all those little things that you want to each year!

    I just found Erin Condren, too...but haven't ordered on yet. Excited to add that into my prized teaching supply possessions next year - I keep hearing such great reviews of her stuff!

    Happy Summer!
    BigTime Literacy


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