Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Next Year Planning...(!)

I will admit, it was weird writing "Next Year" as the title of this post. 
Firstly because I have way too much to focus on that is happening before August (end of the year, wedding, etc., etc., etc.!!). 

And secondly, because this year cannot possibly be coming to an end. But the official countdown (not like I'm counting) is 18 days of school left. That's it. The big 1-8. Yikes!

As the year is beginning to come to close, I have really started thinking about what I want to do differently next year. A lot of what I did this year was what I saw my cooperating teacher doing in student teaching, heard from other teachers, or kind of made up as I went along. Now that I almost have one solid year under my belt, I know some of the things I want to do differently next year. Here's a rough beginning list:

1. Toughen Up A Lot Earlier.
At the beginning of the year, I definitely had New Teacher Syndrome. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants. It was a miracle just to make it through the day. And my class saw that. They knew that I was a hot mess and knew that they could get away with behavior like talking while I was talking, not doing their jobs, playing in the bathroom and at the bubbler and all of those annoying things kids do since I had few consequences in place. Next year, hopefully I won't be so crazy and I'll have a better handle on things and be able to strict right from the get go. I'm not saying that my management was bad at the beginning of the year because no one told me that it was. However, I can see a huge difference in how my kids act now to how they used to behave at the beginning of the year. 

I'm going to start off strong with laying out my expectations and if they aren't met, there will be consequences. Period.

2. Spelling and Homework. Similarly, I didn't have any consequences/rewards for students with homework and spelling. I tried to tell myself that it's not the kid's fault that homework isn't done, but as time went on and more and more kids weren't doing homework, it got annoying. Now I have a policy where if it isn't turned in, it's lunch detention. And this week, only one student didn't bring in homework. Score!

And for spelling, a lot of my kids didn't care about doing well on spelling tests. There was no incentive. So I started the 100% Club a few months ago. If students get a 100% on the spelling test, their names get added to our Spelling 100s Club Poster in our room. Every so often (aka once), we have a 100s Club Party. I'll have to have one very soon though since I had like 15 kids get a 100% on our last spelling test. I was quite pleased about that!

So for next year - start those off right away!

3. Parent Contact. Before school started, I had huge hopes of being able to call every parent on a regular basis, just to check in and let them know that their kid was doing awesome, struggling, whatever. However, with being a hot mess, that didn't really leave much time to call parents. So next year, I want to call parents, especially right away to establish good repertoire as well as hound them about homework and other fun stuff like that.

4. No Sugar Coating.
No, I am not not going on a no sugar diet. I mean that I need to be open and honest with parents about their kiddos.

I have been talking a lot to a kinder teacher at my school who is AMAZING. Seriously, I want to be her. She always has really great parent involvement and her kids leave kinder really high. One thing she does is that she does not sugar coat anything to parents and she's not afraid to tell it like it is. If a student is struggling with reading, she simply states that to the parents and says that they need to work together to help the student grow and do the best he/she can. At the beginning of the year, I was worried about hurting parents and upsetting them, which looking back, doesn't make sense since I feel like I may have given them a false sense of how well their child was doing. So next year, I'm going to try my best to not sugar coat anything since that doesn't help anyone.

5. Be More Involved. At the beginning of the year, I could barely make it through the day, let alone think of taking on any extra responsibilities. So next year, I want to be a part of something at school. My principal just emailed out a few opportunities and I am thinking about applying to be Student Council Advisor. Just something so I am a bigger part of the school and not in my own little classroom. 

6. Calendar. I love calendar, but I don't have a good place to put it where it can be seen well and gathered around. Here is its current location:

Yep. Jammed in a teeny wall space where literally no one can gather around. Kind of obscured by books and tables. Anddddd it still says March. May is tomorrow. You can tell calendar is one of my top priorities...not. But calendar is incredibly important and I am determined to do it justice next year. Janaye over at Frogs and Cupcakes has some really great ideas for calendar math that I plan on using next year. Click the link to check out all of her ideas! 

Come back in a few days for some how-to writing and my first giveaway! I'm a bit late in the game but I've reached 100 followers! 


  1. So I NEVER get to read posts anymore and the one time I actually do, I see a shout-out from you!! Yay! Thanks!!!!

    It is SO hard not to sugarcoat when speaking to parents! You hate to be the one to tell them something about their kid that they never want to hear but at the same time it is so important to stay honest so they aren't surprised or given false hope. Totally with ya on that one. Good luck to you in that area (and the rest, of course)! :)

    Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

  2. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas about calendar and math! I can't wait to use some of your strategies next year. And it will be hard to not sugarcoat but I am really going to try!

  3. I still do this every year - make a list of what I want to do for the next year. It is a great practice to get into - we are always learning and changing. I keep a journal about how things go and reflect on it at the end of the year. It helps more than I can express! From everything I have read here - you have done an incredible job as a first year teacher! My first year I cried every day. I decided I hated teaching and almost quit - so glad I hung in there. The first year is sort of like boot camp!~

    1. Thanks for your good advice and your sweet words! I'm glad you didn't give up on teaching, although there are some days that I feel like jumping out of a window, haha! It can be tough but I love it!