Last week, I started working officially at my new school. I had been waiting all summer to meet my new team of teachers and I was so relieved when we finally got to work together last week. We came in for an optional pre-preplanning period to get a head start on our school year and I’m so glad that we did. It gave us a chance to work together and plan out our curriculum for the year.
One of the best parts about my switching schools is that I am teaching the same subject and grade level as I was at my previous school, so the content and curriculum is very familiar and comfortable for me. But working with new people is always a little challenging, even under the best of circumstances. You have to figure out everyone’s working style and then you have to come together to plan without really knowing much about the people you are working with. Coming from my previous team that I worked with who had been together for years, it was a much slower process this time. My former team knew each other so well that we could crank out lessons and curriculum in no time. And, of course, that kind of relationship takes time to build, so my new team works much slower than that right now. But I can already tell that we will work well together and that is a huge relief.
Along with being able to work with my team, I finally got access to my classroom last week. I spent almost every day up there moving my things into my new room and getting it all set up.
My new room is much larger than my old one and so it didn’t take me long to realize that the things I had up last year were not going to be enough to fill this new space. Which was kind of exciting because it meant I got to explore a few new bulletin board ideas that I had always wanted to try, but never had room for before.
(Ignore my kids climbing on the desks…)
My new school is an Avid school. Avid is a program that focuses on college and career readiness and all teachers in the school apply Avid concepts in their classes. Which I think is awesome! A big part of the Avid program is learning to take Cornell Notes, a style of note-taking that is proven to help students master information more efficiently. I’ve never used Cornell Notes before, so most of my summer has been spent learning about them and how to use them in my class this year. I made a bulletin board with the Cornell Note structure on it, so that I don’t have to tell students 100 different times how to format their notes.
I also added an affirmation bulletin board. (SIDE NOTE: This isn’t really a bulletin board. It’s just a big open space on the wall that I made to look like a bulletin board! Teacher trick! I did it with several “bulletin boards” in my room this year because I only had one small real bulletin board in my room and all these huge blank walls.)
I got the idea for this bulletin board on Pinterest (duh.) and I love it. The center of the board will say, “TAKE WHAT YOU NEED!” The idea is that students can pull off the post-it notes with messages they need to hear. Because I teach middle school and it is SUPER un-cool to participate in cheesy things like this, I also plan to give out those post-it notes, too. Let’s say I’m working with someone who is struggling on a task, I might casually pluck the “Trials are your triumphs” note off the board and put it discretely on their desk as a little bit of super secret encouragement (which is the only kind of encouragement most middle schoolers will accept). I’ll report back once the year starts on how this works…
Actually, this is the only REAL bulletin board I have in my room…
One thing I am not used to are desks instead of tables. I do a ton of group work and have always had tables instead of desks for my classes. At this new school, tables are in short supply so even though I have requested them to be traded out with my desks, I don’t think that will happen for a while. On the plus side, these desks are HUGE and awesome!
At my old school, I had a really cozy little corner for my desk and things. I had a few bookshelves that held all my personal knick-knacks and odds and ends and lots of bulletin board space to hang pictures of my family, friends, and students. This room didn’t have any bookshelves in it, so I have been trying to find a way to make my little space feel homey and comfortable. With as much time as I spend in my classroom, I need a little nest of my own. I eventually decided to turn the whole front wall by my desk into my little inspiration wall. I put up this (fake) bulletin board with all my personal pictures and memorabilia and then lined my desk and even the windowsills with keepsakes. I have to hang my diplomas above the bulletin board and then I’ll be finished with my little nook.
Overall, I think it’s coming together nicely. I have a few little things to add next week during preplanning, but I feel pretty good about where I am starting my year. New beginnings tend to overwhelm me, but I’ve learned over the years that the more prepared I am for them, the better I deal with them. And I feel really prepared right now.
Here we go!