21 August 2015

Reflecting on the first full week of school

Wow, I survived! I'm tired, and have been working 11-12 hour days, but I'm starting to feel like I might be able to get back into my study this weekend. After a short week last week, the five days this week felt a bit like a marathon, but it was pretty good. This morning, as I got a bit grumpy and short with my students first thing this morning, I knew I was tired. Thankfully I managed to get control of my mood and we ended up having a pretty good day, although those students who totally missed Fun Friday because they didn't do their homework probably didn't think so.

For the most part the week went well. Tuesday did not go at all to plan. When setting up my computer ready for the maths lesson I had planned, it kept telling me that my PowerPoint software was unlicensed, and throwing me out of the program. I tried doing a system restore, and that didn't work so I ended up having to refresh the system, which basically uninstalled everything back to a bare basic Windows set up. That meant I had to reinstall everything, including Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader. I got Adobe Reader installed, but couldn't get the computer to talk to the projector. One of the ICT teachers came down in the afternoon and tried to help, but he couldn't solve it either. Eventually I got onto the Acer website and downloaded the driver for the VGA card, and happily that solved the problem. I've still got some software that needs to be reinstalled, but at least the computer is functional again. It was a frustrating day, as I use the computer and projector for almost every Mathematics and English lesson, but I did  get through the day. I thank God that He has helped me to become more flexible, and that enabled me to adapt to the unforeseen challenges.

Once again, I was reminded that I need to show as well as tell the children exactly what they have to do, especially with things that I want done in a particular way. The prime example was homework. A few students got it from my "telling" but quite a few didn't. When I used the work of one of the students who did get it to show those who didn't get it what was required I got much better results. Part of the problem was that the document camera which I usually use for "showing" has developed a crack in one of the joints, and won't stay in position. I'm hopeful I can get a replacement for it, but also will be looking to see how I can repair/modify it so it is usable.

One thing I did manage to achieve this week was take some photos of the classroom on Monday afternoon, so you can see it now it's getting closer to being completely set up. I'd still love at least one more power outlet, preferably behind my desk, but for the time being I'm managing.

Classroom library, CAFE menu board, posters starting to go up, and storage.
This could still be a bit tidier, but most of my good boxes are now hidden away.

I love having space to walk around the mats.
With only 20 students there's one mat each, and if I get more students then there's room to add more mats!
I project onto the whiteboard, lowering the blind over the window darkens the room just enough.

I made a couple of adjustments to this area, moving my desk and turning the small shelf around,
and now it's working really well.
This is the other end of the classroom. My special needs student likes using the table in the corner, which I was going to use for the student computer, so I may need to come up with another plan for that, but at the moment it's working well. The noodles are for swimming lessons, and live in my room or they would quickly become damaged and unusable.

Weekly homework, daily timetable, and a small area for teaching above student storage.
We use the folders when I'm testing students to discourage copying.
The last five years has seen slow growth in my collection of games and puzzles to the good collection you see here.

The rest of the student storage areas, trays for books and work to be handed in,
classroom rules and management system, and the classroom jobs display.

This was one of my treats to myself this summer. These are fairly cheap in the USA but in Australia they are pretty expensive, so I make selections carefully. This year I bought this set for class jobs, and a matching set for birthdays, which I'll put up in the next week or two, once I get the information from the office (they've been crazy busy down there).
Well, that's it for this post. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the bright, spacious, new Grade 4K classroom. I'm loving it, and I think the children are too.

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