Check-In: How Was Your First Week?

1101338_lost_3So this week that just passed was my first week of the new school year. It was pretty much amazing. I have a new completely positive approach. I am a brand new Joel this year. There are two things that are paramount in my mind as I stand in front of the class every day. I want the band to have:

  1. A culture of encouragement
  2. An expectation of excellence

If I can model those two things, I am convinced that I can ensure the rest of the students follow suit. We don’t criticize other students, we encourage them. We don’t laugh at mistakes, we learn from them. We don’t point out problems, we provide possible solutions. As I’ve said before, when things settle down a little bit more, I will elaborate on this newly reborn philosophy much more in-depth. Right now though, I’m more interested in where you are.

Was this week the start of the best year ever? What were your biggest problems? What were some things you’ve done differently than in previous years? Comment below…

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

4 Comments on Check-In: How Was Your First Week?

  1. Hey Joel,
    I'm happy that your year has started off with a bang! I think trying to maintain a standard of excellence is definitely the way to go, and the kids will feed off of you in that regard.

    My year really did start off pretty good as well. At least as far as the kids are concerned. Yes, I had no A/C in my room for the first 3 days, the administration at my school gives us last minute (literally) deadlines and requirements and meeting notifications, and supplies didn't come till Thursday afternoon. BUT, for the most part, the kids have been great. The biggest problem has been a lack of listening, which, while frustrating, is normal for new 3rd graders. There are several kids though who have participated their hearts out and done what I've asked, and I have high hopes for this group.

  2. The first week went much better than expected! This was the first year that I actually slept well the night before, without too many butterflies in the stomach. A wise woman at church told me to pray: NOT for patience, but for the Lord to match me up with the "right" kids for my class. That gave me a lot of peace going into the situation. The evening after the first or second day, I was totally out by 9pm, but that's okay!

    My main fear was not teaching ESL for the first time in 8 years, and as it turns out, I do have a diverse group of students, some of whom are ESL. So they ended up making 2 sections of ESL, after originally planning on only one for another teacher. Yay!

    I have a few, as Fred Jones would say, helpless handraisers. So I have made it clear that if the students have not written their names on their papers and are already asking for help, I can tell they have not looked at their assignment and will not "help" them. We have also gone over the Boys' Town social skill of Staying on Task, which includes: Look at your assignment.!!!

    Boys' Town coupling statements have been my best friend, ie: "Just now, when you called out, you interrupted the class. A better choice would have been to get the teacher's attention correctly."

    I went down to 2nd, after teaching 3rd for 2 years, and the major differences thus far are: 2nd graders read out loud!!! Wow! We did some story problems, and we should have just read chorally. Basically, we read chorally as individuals! And they have a much closer physical proximity than 3rd graders, for example, I was doing a DRA at the kidney table, and when someone had a question, she leaned against me to ask. They're just grown up first graders, after all. When one student gives a hug at the end of the day, so does the rest of the line! That, I can live with.

  3. The following refers to my experience as an elementary school teacher (secondary teachers, in my opinion, may not share the following views). In fact, in my experience, I've never known any secondary teacher to accept a teaching assignment in an elementary school when they've been declared "redundant".

    Teaching is my third career, so I'm not one of those out of school and right back into it people. I've taught for 10 years so I have some background.

    Why do teachers quit teaching? I'm sure it's different from Board to Board, but in the one that I work in, the expectations of the Board are overwhelming. I'm not going to blah, blah, blah about it, but let's leave it at this: when teachers are expected to be martyrs, then it's time to quit.

    I can't stop living for 10 months of the year just to assume the fetal position for about the first 2 or 3 weeks of July, spend the next 2 or 3 attending to what I neglected for 10 months just to start to get ready to repeat the process for the rest of the summer. Why would anyone quit teaching…in order to live a balanced "normal" life, that's why.

  4. This is my first year as a professional teacher; I have three (90-minute block scheduled) enthusiastic groups of students who have begun to test their boundaries. I love the students, and I want to keep them secure and in control. Perhaps someone might have some advice on a discipline problem I encountered yesterday:

    Yesterday, almost half of my last class left two minutes before the bell rang. The chaotic clean-up process, which I will adjust, contributed to their opportunism, but I was shocked, angered, and embarrassed that this happened.

    I took down the names of the students who remained, and marked the rest as tardy, but this seems insufficient, and not in keeping with the school's attendance policy. I would appreciate any advice on addressing this problem. Thanks very much!

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