Uh oh! Summer break is

That means, it is time to prepare for the new school year.  It’s my very first “new school year” as a new teacher (being that I started teaching in the middle of last school year) and boy have the stresses kicked in.  So much to do with so little time.  It feels as if this inservice week just doesn’t have enough hours in the day to complete everything that I want to do.

For starters, my classroom got painted by a group of Lowe’s volunteers and the random cubicles that were in my classroom were removed.  I took that opportunity to rearrange the classroom the way I want.  Since I started in the middle of a school year, I just rolled with the punches and left everything as it was so that my students didn’t experience dramatic change.  Rearranging the entire classroom means moving furniture, reorganizing cabinets and storage, purging of unwanted/unused/broken items.  I am not sure that all of my staff is completely happy with the change and/or need to organize, but hey it’s got to be done!  Change is not always bad.  

So with the rearranging of the furniture and new open space, I was able to create a dedicated area for TEACCH stations (independent deskwork), a small group area, a sensory table/play area, a new staff area, and of course, circle time and snack/lunch areas.  What’s great is that our new snack area now has shelving and access to kitchen items, so students aren’t going to two different locations to complete tasks like heating up their food, or putting away dishes.  It’s all now in one common “eating/food/kitchen” area.  Hopefully, this will provide more functional meaning to tasks such as setting up snack table or sorting dishes.

Moving into an already established classroom comes with its own stresses.  First, I have to go through and sort, organize, and filter previous teacher stuff like lesson plan binders.  It might take a full day to organize just my teacher stuff!  On the bright side, the past 6 months of operating a class under someone else’s standards/physical environment, has given me lots of time to think about how I can add my personality and flavor into it.  I want the classroom to reflect who I am as a person and as a teacher.

Reflection of the past 6 months

Being that it is a new school year, I figure I ought to reflect on the first 6 months of teaching and create personal goals for the new school year.  It has been a wonderful learning experience being a new teacher.  I am very fortunate to work in a small school setting that allows me to really focus on growing as a teacher and allow me to make mistakes and experiment with programming.  I think my biggest challenges have been:

  • Not second guessing myself, especially when my co-teacher questions everything! I know what I am doing.  I spent 4 years studying and working in the field.
  • Leading a team of very different personalities has been a real personal challenge.  I have a somewhat passive personality.  Some of my staff members have very strong and dominating personalities.  It has been a process learning strategies to maintain myself (as to not lose myself in their dominance) and to establish my own dominance being that it is my classroom and I have the final say so.  I have had conversations with my co-teacher, in particular, and what I have learned is that she wants to lead a classroom of her own and has a hard time following someone else’s lead.  We have 2 total different visions for the classroom.

Goals for the new school year

  • I want establish a more dominant stand and stronger leader position with my staff, and most importantly, with my co-teacher.  How do I make it clear that it is my classroom, my final decision, etc without taking away the team rapport and/or being rude about it?
  • Train my staff on how to teach core academic subjects and manage small groups
  • Train my staff in organizational and planning skills
  • Figure out how to write great goals that focus on both academics and daily living skills
  • Create fundraiser ideas to help fund fieldtrips

I am excited to start the new school year.  I am excited to implement new ideas, such as new academic based small groups, parent newsletters, monthly themes, and sensory play groups.  Happy 2012-2013 school year!