Because I always kind of wonder about who reads my blog…
December 2013 S M T W T F S « Aug 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
So…I created this post back in September of last year and I just realized I never actually posted it. These are some photos of my classroom and how I set things up, as well as some things I created to make things easier/nicer/more efficient. Enjoy
I recently started going to Zumba classes at the local YMCA. I’ve never been a particularly athletic person, and I don’t do very much exercising. I’ve also never been much of a dancer. Nonetheless, my friend was going to the classes so I decided to try it too.
I’ve been doing this for about two weeks now and here is the truth: I suck at it. I have no rhythm, I move too slowly, and I’m always moving my right foot when I should be moving my left and vice versa. I’ve improved marginally since my first class, but I still look like a total beginner and feel like a dancing elephant.
As I stumbled my way through another class this morning, I realized something. Throughout most of my school career I was an excellent student; I say this not to brag but to emphasize the contrast between my school performance and my “performance” (or lack thereof) in Zumba class. The fact is most of my schoolwork came pretty easily to me, especially in elementary school. Zumba on the other hand is the opposite: I keep trying, but it all seems very complicated and confusing. I start wondering if I’m wasting my time, if I should just give up and accept that Zumba is not for me, and if I’ll ever improve.
This is new for me–not that I’ve ever been good at sports of any kind, but in most cases, if I tried a sport and sucked (and thus didn’t like it because I sucked) I just didn’t do it anymore. Because my friend–who by the way is also a 4th grade teacher–has continued going to class and we have “dates” when we agree to meet there, I have pushed myself to keep attending the classes and haven’t given up like I normally do.
Struggling through each class, making sure to stay in the back, trying not to call attention to myself, and wishing the instructor would slow down and give me time to practice before moving on: I haven’t felt this way for quite some time. Again, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here; it’s not that I’m usually great at everything. It’s just that I usually throw in the towel when I’m no good.
As I shuffle around in the back of the room looking like a drunk gorilla, I hope desperately that no one is watching me and that there aren’t any moves where the whole class turns around (thus making my row the front instead of the back). Most of all, I pray that the instructor does not try to give me extra help or special attention. I probably need it, and I’m sure it’s clear to everyone else in the room that I could benefit from some kind of remediation, but I never understood until now what was so bad about being singled out (for help, not scolding) or why so many kids don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want the instructor to be thinking “Wow, she’s really not getting it and she should be doing better by now.” I want her to let me keep trying, even though in this context, I am an exceptionally slow learner. If she would break down some of the moves a bit more for the whole class, that would be good, but if that’s not an option, I would rather continue working at my own pace, even though that pace is traditionally relegated to snails.
So at the risk of stating the obvious: if I, a grown woman with a master’s degree in education, genuinely have these concerns just as a result of a casual weekend exercise class at Y…many of my 4th graders probably feel the same way when they sit in my class every day. The stakes are much higher at school than at the Y; I’m not legally required to go to Zumba class, I don’t get grades, and there’s no standardized Zumba test coming up in May that I need to prepare for (good thing, too!)
In short, my ongoing Zumba attempts have helped me to finally understand, as I enter my 6th year of teaching, how some of my struggling students must feel about school.
For my part, I think I’m going to stick with Zumba. While I really am terrible at it, I think with some practice I’m going to wind up liking it for the same reason I enjoy teaching: there’s so much to think about and concentrate on that I don’t have time to get bored. And like teaching, there’s always more to learn and room to improve. Although it can be difficult and stressful, and I seriously doubt my abilities at times…in the long run, life is no fun if it’s not a challenge.
I wanted to share a few photos of my classroom from this year. These are the things I’ve set up so far–I did a LOT of cleaning out and organizing, and I’m actually really excited now to start the year because I get to try out all my new “systems” and because I finally have a pretty environment to work in
I’ve been getting really inspired by the blog Clutter-Free Classroom. Highly recommended!
This is my “back to school” bulletin board. My sister Paula came up with the falling leaves idea and did most of the work except for the lettering.
The bins where I keep my copies and materials to use each day of the week. I relabeled them and I think they look much prettier now!
My classroom jobs chart; the label designs were a free printable from teacherspayteachers.com (a new favorite site of mine). Having the kids’ numbers on magnets makes it easy to slide them around to change the jobs from week to week.
This is the “sign-out station” where the kids sign in and out to go to the bathroom, nurse, etc. (the school requires each classroom to have a log for this). I can’t believe it took me until this year to realize I should hang a clock above the log!
Labels I made for some of the supplies–my shelves look so neat and tidy now! I’m going to post another few pictures once I have them all set up. The font I used is free and it’s called Pinwheel.
FINALLY I have a SmartBoard in my classroom! I feel like I’m the last teacher in America to get one!
And good riddance to my overhead projector. Yuck!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Been a while since I posted here but I wanted to let you know Ben and I welcomed our first child, Noah Benjamin, on October 19, 2011. He arrived a month early weighing 5 pounds and 6 ounces, 19 inches long. He is beautiful and we are so very proud!
It seems like at least once a day I hear a teacher or other adult say something that amounts to, or implies, “School was a lot better (or kids were a lot better) in the 60s/70s/80s/90s.”
We all know that we have a tendency to idealize the past. I was a student in the 80s and 90s, and I know schools had problems then. I know teachers worked hard, put in long hours, and were underpaid. Classes were large–there were 29 in my 5th grade class. Many kids had serious behavior and learning issues, even in my wealthy, high-performing suburban school system. School 20 years ago was NOT paradise.
But American public schools in 2011 are widely deemed to be failing. According to a lot of people I hear from, kids today aren’t ready for college or the job market. They can’t speak properly or write well. They have no self-contol, no sense of responsibility. All they care about is video games (or rap, or drugs, or gangs, or whatever). To hear many adults talk, most of America’s children are far inferior to the children of decades past, and the problem keeps getting worse.
Here’s my question, for people who have been around longer than I have: what is the cause of this decline? Assuming for the sake of argument that schools and kids were better “back in the day,” what changed? Is it NCLB? The recession? Budget cuts? Teacher or parent laziness? The internet? Cell phones? Divorce/single parent families? Alien force fields?
I sound sarcastic but I’m actually serious. If our schools really are in large part abject failures, more so than before–and many people think this is the case–what is the primary problem here?