I haven’t had much chance to write lately. With report cards going out last week and parent teacher interviews and I got sick at the beginning of last week and NaNoWriMo going on and life in general just got away from me. I felt bogged down and to be very honest I was starting to lose hope about how well this year was going to go. I felt like I was just treading water and not getting anywhere. I always knew this year was going to be a challenge and I knew that I was up for it but of course I was worried at the same time.
Stress is an awful thing to deal with. And despite the absolutely amazing support I’ve been getting, from my principal, from my co-workers, and my husband, I was starting to feel the effects of being stressed. It’s not just school, there are other factors causing stress of course, life is like that. Even though things were getting better I was finding myself less able to cope. It would take me longer to wind down at home and it was affecting my digestive system.
Luckily, things are looking up. As I said, my principal is amazing. I’ve been lucky to work for a few great principals and they all have their different qualities that make them great. This year my principal is very hands on and involved. She’s in my classroom about once a day checking up on how things are going, taking kids out to talk about various things with them, she has been a wonderful resource and sounding board for me and I know that she wants these kids to succeed and she wants her teachers to be happy.
I’ve been reading quite a few blogs written by teachers in the States and it does make me realize how lucky we are in Canada that our Education system has not yet degraded that far. I know that my teaching situation this year is not unique and in comparison to some situations I’ve read about, it’s not that bad. My main struggle is that I have twenty-five grade five students in my class, a few with behaviour issues and possible undiagnosed learning challenges. I have three possibly soon to be four students on IBSP’s, four others who are on modified programs and I don’t have an EA with me, it’s just me. Again, I realize this is not a unique situation and lots of people get by teaching classes like this on their own and I could have done this on my own it was just very difficult.
And so my principal got me Mrs. W. She’s not an EA, she’s a teacher who didn’t get a position this year. She was back to supply teaching and was volunteering in another class. She’s been hired on to work with me every morning until at least March Break and I couldn’t be happier. This was her third week with me and the change in our classroom environment has been wonderful. It was slow to start of but my goodness, having another set of eyes, another voice in the classroom has been amazingly helpful. Now there are two of us reinforcing the classroom expectations. Now I can keep teaching while she pulls a child aside to remind them of what they need to be doing. Now we can separate the class into two groups to help focus on their needs when they’re trying to work independently.
Luckily, her teaching style and her way of interacting with students is similar to mine. I think if we had very different styles this arrangement wouldn’t work so well but right now it’s working just great.
The other big change that happened, also because of my principal pushing to have things improve, is that my classroom has been completely re-arranged. As I showed in earlier posts, my classroom is a fairly small rectangular room and my SMART board was on one of the narrow walls. This made arranging the seating plan difficult because the students at the back of the room were very far away from me when I was up at the board. While I was teaching something that didn’t require the SMART Board I would circulate as much as possible, but I found the whole room felt crowded, even after taking out two big tables and my reading corner carpet. And I'm not sure why the font changed on this one paragraph when I added in pictures.
My principal looked into having my SMART board moved to one of the long walls and it happened the end of last week. Wednesday afternoon these two guys showed up and asked me where I wanted it moved to. I was not expecting it to happen so soon so I was caught off guard. I think I put it a little too far off to one side which also restricts my seating plan. And now I’m writing on a chalk board instead of a white board but that’s okay.
I find we have so much more room this way. It’s easier to get to the students who need help and I have fewer bruises on my hips from bumping into tables and desks all day.
I’m hoping that with these two big changes along with some other smaller changes, that we can create the supportive learning environment that my students need to help them learn as much as they can this year.
Oh, and on the French front, there was one comment that happened on Thursday that I have to share. We were having a serious discussion about why it’s important to be learning French, especially in New Brunswick. A few of my students were expressing a negative attitude towards French and so I knew it was an important discussion to have. I shared with them that my husband is looking for work right now and that he’s finding it hard because most jobs that he wants require French and he was only in Immersion for a few years so his French level isn’t high enough.
“He could come here and learn with us!” shouts out one of my girls.
They’re so sweet.
My husband thought that was hilarious.