Welcome back to a whole new school year! I’ve spent the whole summer steadily preparing for my new assignment and it’s one that I’m embracing.
Here is it…the night before my first day at a new school, new routines, new students, new colleagues—actually, they aren’t that new to me. I’m supposed to be trying to rest up and review my plans for tomorrow and all I can think about is “I have to blog about this!”
To catch you all up….I used to be a middle school math teacher for 16 years. The last 2 years, I was a elementary math coach. Now I’m going to conquer teaching 6th grade, but at an elementary school. I get to be with little kiddos again. Ok…my kiddos won’t be so little, but I get to experience the joy, the smiles, the high-five moments, and the celebrations that come with learning.
This transition was tough at first. In the months following my decision, I had weeks where I was raring to go and then weeks when I was doubting myself. I kept asking myself if I made the right decision by heading to an elementary school. My 6th grade buddies at the other elementary schools were cheering me on every step of the way. And with positive mindset, much support from the other 6th grade teachers, and lots of studying over the summer, I’m ready for my challenge. This is going to be an awesome year.
In diving into this new experience, my inner elementary teacher started coming out. I spent a good 2 months planning for decorating my classroom. One of the kindergarten teachers at my site asked me back in March, “what’s your theme going to be?” My reaction was “Theme?!?!? Middle schools teachers never did a theme!?!?!?” I go home and tell my husband about the conversation and he starts looking up things on Pinterest (he is totally a teacher’s husband!). Low and behold, he holds up this picture….
My classroom is completely decked out with college stuff for my theme. I created something from nothing. All of what I’m about to show you is because of this single picture. As a matter of fact, I’m calling it Acosta Academy. I’ve had colleagues come in to see my progress and were completely floored with what I had done.
I also had a revelation. I put more energy into putting together this elementary classroom than I had in all my 18 years of teaching. I embraced the belief “Go big or go home!” More is more in elementary.
And in the little time that I’ve been in the elementary community, I’ve learned so much. For instance, who knew that you could buy Walmart flat bed sheets for $5.00 and they were big enough for your bulletin boards/walls? And I’ve discovered the joys of lamination. It’s such a magical treat. I can’t get enough.
And I’ve created some goals for myself for this year….
- Integrate 3 Acts, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Estimation, Clotheslines, Open Middle, Numberless Word Problems, number talks and engaging math activities/stations into my math curriculum.
- Learn and implement Google classroom as well as other Google tech with my students (Recently took a Google Cue Launch workshop and will be taking the first test soon)
- Conquer my fear of teaching English/Language Arts. It’s a monster.
- Find creative activities for partnering my kids with kindergarteners. The kinder teacher and I have a few great math ideas/activities.
- Use my time in the classroom to embrace the joy, to foster curiosity, and to give my students the best for their last year at elementary school.
On a side note, I’m proud to announce that my kindergarten collaborator and I have been asked to speak at 2 conferences. One of them will be at Calif. Math Council’s northern conference in Asilomar. The other is at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference in February in Pasadena.
I’ve also been asked the speak at my alma mater, Frostburg State University. Sloop Institute on Leadership & Excellence has asked me to present on “Empowering Others.” I love the topic choice and have already outlined what I’d present. Even though the conference isn’t until March, it’s never to early to brainstorm.
There’s more exciting plans coming in the 2018-2019 year, but I’ll wait to report on that when things are more finalized.
Until next time,