July 11, 2017

New Year...Same Goals?

It's hard to believe that I'm approaching my eleventh year of teaching, but here we are...

More things have changed than stayed the same across those years, but there are few things that have remained consistent. For one, I'm still at the same school!  For another, each year I have created a "School Year __ IDEAS" document for the next year. This is where I collect all the great ideas I have after I finish a unit (you know the ones: the things I don't get to or realize too late or attempt unsuccessfully). I usually include ideas for read-aloud books, new classroom activities, improved procedures, and other small things that just might make the next year run more smoothly than the last.

Over the summer and throughout the school year, I check my "IDEAS" document and incorporate those ideas in to my planning and teaching. Ideally, each year I have new ideas and set new goals... but, unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way...

Firsties greeting each other with the "Butterfly Greeting"
A few years ago, when I was teaching first grade, I committed to maintaining consistency in my Morning Meeting.  I was coming off a year where I had strayed from the by-the-book RC (Responsive Classroom) Morning Meeting, opting instead for fewer community-building group activities, and more Calendar Math routines. While nothing huge was missing, I did feel like my classroom community was lacking something without the RC songs and games.  So that year I kept my commitment; we had a "true" Morning Meeting every single day, without exception.  Even when we had field trips, assemblies, or special events, we managed to do a quick greeting and read a short Morning Message. My focus on implementing Morning Meeting paid off; despite some very challenging behaviors that year, my kiddos could count on starting our day together every day.

As I'm looking at my "Next Year IDEAS" doc for this coming year, I find myself once again setting a goal to execute Morning Meeting with fidelity every day. How did this happen?  Frankly, we had Morning Meeting most days this past year... but, especially toward the end, I got lax. Some days we had a longer Morning Work, some days we jumped right into content, sometimes we came to the carpet just for announcements.  Sometimes I wasn't prepared and needed those extra ten minutes to set up the SMART board or organize some copies. Other times, the kiddos were calm and quiet, and I didn't want to upset the balance. Whatever the reasons, it didn't always happen, and I think our community felt the repercussions.

Of course, I'm well aware that Morning Meeting won't solve all the inevitable classroom challenges I'll face this year.  But I do know that being prepared for each day and maintaining consistency can truly change how a classroom operates.  We all reap the benefits when I'm ready to go for the day, there is a predictable routine from the moment students walk into the classroom, and we can make smooth transitions from one activity to the next. So this year, I'm re-committing to holding Morning Meeting, day-in and day-out.

Fourth Graders doing the "Hand Stack" greeting!

Now, I just need to figure out what grade I'm going to be teaching... 😁