It is hard to believe that this week will be the start of my second year of teaching! This summer has absolutely flown by, and I’ve been so lucky to spend it with all of my favorite people on the east and west coasts. I am forever thankful for the constant love and support from everyone back in Pennsylvania, and to all of the amazing people I have met here in Arizona. My first year of teaching would not have been what it was without all of you!
I must admit that it feels pretty nice to no longer be a first year teacher. I feel even more confident going into my second year knowing that I already have one year of experience under my belt. Last year challenged and taught me so much, and I know that I have grown immensely as an educator and as a person. While setting up and planning for this school year, I had a much better idea of what I wanted to do… and what I did not want to do. As much as I know that college had prepared me very well for my first year of teaching, there were so many things that it could not have prepared me for. For example how to choose a behavior management plan that worked for me – I must have tried out at least five last year before finding one that seemed to work. This year I have a clear plan of what I want to do and hope to be consistent with it all school year. Another example is how to set up a classroom. In college it never occurred to me how many little things went into setting up a successful classroom. Last school year there were things that I had not thought about in the beginning, so I would come up with a spur of the moment resolution when they would arise. This year I felt that I had a more thought out and organized approach to setting up my room and I absolutely love how it all came out! Check out some pictures and further explanations of parts of my classroom below:
This is what you would see if you were walk into my classroom! I will be starting on Monday with 29 (yes you read that correctly) students – and that number is likely to increase within the first month of school. Figuring out a seating arrangement for that many students was a definite struggle, but doing something a little more unconventional seemed to work! On each of my students desks is a miniature Accountable Talk chart in a little adhesive sleeve from the dollar spot at Target. Teacher friends – these little adhesive pockets are my newest obsession and I may or may not have already stocked up on them for next school year… go check them out! Accountable talk is something that is highly promoted in my school and it is essentially a series of sentence stems which students can refer to when communicating with their peers.
Here you see my class calendar, small group table, and class library. My calendar is essentially the same as it was last school year because I loved how much room it gave me to add in important dates and reminders! Students were able to use it as a resource and it gave them an easy place to look for information. This year though I ended up moving my small group table to the back of my classroom. Last year it was along the side and I felt that it took away space that could have been utilized otherwise. Therefore, by moving the table into the back of the room I was able to create a space on the carpet to be used for class meetings and as a reading nook.
That brings me to my classroom library! Last year I was fortunate that I had a class that ordered a lot from our Scholastic book orders each month. This allowed me to place orders which earned me a good amount of free books as well as accumulate points to spend on books as well. My class library has easily been tripled from where I started at the beginning of last year! I went back on forth on if I wanted to organize my books or just have them be random on the shelves as both had their pros and cons. I ultimately decided to do a combination of the two and am extremely happy with the result! The books which are part of a series are in their own baskets while other books are simply displayed on the shelves. Fingers crossed my kiddos keep this somewhat organized!
Math and Reading centers are both something that I want to improve on this school year. Last year they were something that I was just figuring out come the end of the year, so they are a big priority this year! I wanted to have a central location where all of the centers materials would be stored, and this half-sized bookcase in my room ended up being the perfect solution! The banner that I created was made using materials from the Target dollar spot as well (are you noticing a pattern here…) and I love how it makes the intent of the book case clear. This year I also wanted each center to have a distinct place for it to occur – that way I could easily look around the room and be able to tell if my students were following the correct expectations for that specific center. One of my teammates no longer had use for a set of cubbies so I re-purposed the back of them to create a spot for my Listen to Reading center. Students will be able to pull over their chairs and have a designated place to listen to a story of their or my choosing. I absolutely am in love with the look of this center!
Next to the Listen to Reading center is my class jobs chart. I am beyond excited to have an actual chart put together this year. Somehow at the beginning of last year classroom jobs completely escaped me and I ended up just putting up a series of post-its on one of the walls. I also plan on rotating my jobs every two weeks instead of daily which I am hoping will save me some time in the mornings. The intent behind this is also to have students really take ownership and responsibility for their jobs. I cannot wait to see how this works out!
The above three aspects of my classroom are ones that I am also very excited about! The first picture is of our class meetings poster. Class meeting are something that I initiated at the beginning of 4th quarter last year. This year I will be starting them during week two! Together we will set a class goal and will be working towards it throughout the week. The poster also leave spots for students to give each other shout outs, voice questions or concerns, and leave ideas for my discussion whiteboards. (Teacher friends check out #ms5thswhiteboards for ideas if you want to start discussion boards of your own!)
The next picture is of the Proud Wall. This is another aspect which is returning, with some alterations, from my room last year. Previously I would switch out student work on a bi-weekly basis, but this became something that was difficult for me to keep up with. This year I plan to keep it much more simple. If a student is proud of something, they can request for me to hang it up. I hope to see a variety of different things hung up on this board throughout the year!
Another addition which I love are the mini circles around the clock. I know it seems like a tiny aspect of the room, but believe me it is an important one. Last year my kiddos really struggled with telling time which made it difficult when they needed to. If I had a nickel for every time I was asked for the time last year, I might be a millionaire today! Hopefully this will be a useful resource for my students and that it gives them some confidence in their time telling abilities.
Finally here is the front of my classroom! To the left of the board are where my daily objectives will go. My school requires them to be posted each day and I like having them in the front where they are easy to reference. Above the whiteboard under the alphabet are the non-negotiables for my classroom. Below is a close up of them and here is a link to a free download from Head Over Heels for Teaching if anyone else would like to use them for their rooms. (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Non-Negotiables-Building-Classroom-Community-Posters-2406829) I love, love, love the messages they send and the tone they set for the room!
On my teacher desk you will see three of my new favorite things. The first is my teacher toolbox! I saw so many of these on social media that I just had to create one of my own for this school year. I already love how organized and convenient it has made my supplies! The second is my task card organizer. This is also something which I saw on social media and just had to have. It is simply a plastic box which has 16 smaller plastic boxes inside of it (see picture below). Being that I use task cards all the time for lessons, this was an obvious purchase for me. The third is my wooden V signed by all of my kiddos on the last day of school last year. I love that I will have a part of them in my classroom with me this year.
GOODBYE YEAR ONE…
… HELLO YEAR TWO
Thank you for reading!
Love – Ms. Visnov 🙂