I haven't written about my classroom lately. This is for many reasons. This year has been overwhelming, and I find it so hard to even blog my updates on Everly, let alone talk about my work day, that seems to keep getting longer and longer. However, today was a day that I want to remember.
It was a great day. And for a very simple reason. I had a really great day with my kids. I teach two very different groups of students, one is an accelerated group of amazingly well behaved students, and then my other group is low socio-economic students who have been known to give their teacher's a run for their money. My "challenging" group has a variety of needs, including 6th graders who are reading at a first grade level. And guess what, when you cannot read, you typically are not the most attentive student in your middle school history class.
But I've been working hard with this group. I want them to love history, or at least the history they learn with me. They are my first group of the day, and I've got energy, and use a "whole body" approach when teaching. You should see me acting out a hominid hunting scene, by myself, in front of thirty tweens. Really, it has got to be a funny picture. But hey, it keeps their attention, so you better believe I have my "man discovering how to make fire" act all lined up for tomorrow.
Today we were learning about our second hominid group, and it was pretty classic history lesson model. Read textbook, fill out our interactive notebooks. We read together, I read a paragraph, and then everyone reads the next one with me. So the kids who don't speak English aren't singled out, the kids who can't read aren't either, and the one who is having a hard time waking up, well, maybe the loud choral reading gets them what they need. We were just having fun today. I wasn't stressed about staying on schedule. Today we learned about one hominid, and I'm okay with that. They were engaged, participating, and enjoying the whole thing.
At one point in the lesson we were circling important details in the photos in our interactive notebook when one student pointed out I had made a crazy smiley face with all of my circles. And sure enough, I had. We all laughed about it, and it seems like nothing now that I write about it, but it was something. One student even said out-loud that "this is the best class ever".
So, what made this so magnificent? It wasn't some ridiculous new teaching strategy. It wasn't the fact that I used all of the current buzzwords in my classroom. Instead, today was the day that I realized I have built a community in my second period. This is the same group of kids who seems to always have a hard time on campus, never doing the "right thing", but they are enjoying each others company, and they seem to enjoy mine. They are safe in my room. They are excited to talk about whatever craziness I'm throwing at them. They know that they can point out something as silly as a smiley face I accidentally had drawn on the board while being super serious with my hominid notes.
Today was a good day. That's it.