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WBT Culture established the FIRST WEEK!

So this Friday concluded my first FULL week with my 9th graders, and it has been my most successful startup week yet (in my albeit short teaching career of going-on-three-years!). The kids DID laugh and giggle when I first introduced the Rules/ScoreBoard and Class/Yes....and still do sometimes if I use a silly voice for Class/Yes). But by now WBT really just feels like "the way we do things" in my class. It doesn't feel "gimmicky" (like it does at first to all of us, I think) to me or the kids. (I have 99% go-alongs, so that helps).

For example, at one point, I was introducing new vocabulary terms - "independent" versus"dependent" variables, and THEY actually called ME on the carpet for moving on before giving them gestures ("Mrs Molnar! Aren't you forgetting something? The GESTURES?") Now THAT's classroom culture for ya'!

Also, I had a different sort of "WBT Moment" when I was treated to an impromptu visit from former students. They were sent FROM CLASS by my Chemistry colleague across the hall, because she was reviewing the Scientific Method, and her kids (my students from last year, now sophomores) were doing the gestures I had taught them to help them remember! (And she wanted to know the "official" version of my gestures!)

Point is: THEY REMEMBERED A YEAR LATER :-)

I began this journey last year, coming off a difficult first year of teaching, and I began using some WBT strategies last Fall. In the Spring, I continued building on those, and now, finally, after little over a year, it's beginning to feel natural. And I'm even doing a decent job of micro-lecturing (with lots of Teach-Okay's mixed in), though I could do better, I know.

My PowerPix wall is coming along nicely, like Chris Rekstad promised it would ("rolling off like a printing press," I believe was his quote), and I do review of at least a few of the words every day to start off my lesson.

Since I have relatively easy-to-manage classes, I'm trying to figure out how to move my go-alongs up to to Alphas....and what exactly class leadership should look like at the high school level...

In conclusion, I'm not quite in teacher heaven yet, but I think I'm on my way!

Category: 4 comments
The First Three Days: What I Did

We started school last Wednesday, so I have now had my classes for a full three days. On Wednesday, I introduced the Class/Yes, Rules, ScoreBoard, and Teach/OK. I also had a brain model (thanks to our Anatomy & Physiology) and gave them an overview of WHY I teach the way I do. And I squeezed a demo in for my content (Physics). (It sounds like a lot, but I have 80 minute block classes).

I also started a PowerPix wall, though I had to cover up a whiteboard to do it. But it was one I wasn't using much, so maybe I won't miss it.

Thursday I taught them Teach/OK with SWITCH and continued with content. And on Friday, I told them they could only score points on the SCOREBOARD if I got 100% participation for Teach/OK.

How it Went, or, Mrs. Molnar Finally "Gets" the Leadership "Thing"
To summarize: This has been THE SMOOTHEST startup so far. (This will be my third year of teaching, and my second with WBT). And I think it's because this year I'm implementing the class evaluation method from WBT. Even though I haven't officially "scored" myself yet (its only been 3 days), as I walk around the room, I'm focusing more, at least right now, on whether my kids are engaged, than I am on the content itself.

Although it's taken awhile to sink in, I think I finally understand what Coach B means when he says we have to "unite the class behind our leadership." I wan the the kids telling EACH OTHER to get-with-the-program so that NO ONE ends up with the extra homework...(in other words, follow MY agenda, not the troublemaker who sits next to you).

So I'm really going to focus on MY leadership first. I am slowly implementing aspects of the Model WBT Classroom, but I have some doubts about using a "super Improvers Wall" at the high school level. It seems a bit childish. And it appears linked to SuperSpeeed Math and Super1000 reading, which I don't really do in Physics....I did, however, ask my kids to write down a goal for themselves (in their own notebook) for the year (about anything) and said we would revisit it from time to time to see how they are progressing.

And, as I teach Science, I'm not sure about a Genius Laddder for writing....I'll have to give that some though. I'm thinking that, before our first writing assignment or lab, I might spend one day going over it, and my expectations for complete sentences in their writing. But, really, they should KNOW how to write paragraphs by ninth grade! (AND they get explicit instructionall year in English)

No Trouble-Makers Yet?
So, here's the suspicious thing...none of the usual cast of clowns, chatty-types, and other assorted "disruptors" have appeared yet. Could I be merely lucky? Could it be I've gotten them in order in just 3 days? (Maybe a combination?) And I'm not sure who the leaders are yet. There are the usual few in each class who raise their hands to answer every equestion, and who, in turn, aren't afraid to raise their hands to ask insightful questions. But, is this leadership potential? If so, how do I get them to influence those around them to follow their lead?

Other teachers tell me it's too early to tell, but in my (albeit limited) experience, I can usually tell in the first day or two who my problem-students will be....

Now, if I could only find a 1-minute hourglass egg-timer to help me keep from talking too much...!