Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Highs and Lows of the First Week Back 2013

As I read to my class after lunch, I noticed some yawns and heavy eyes. No, I don't think my reading is that bad, and the book - One For The Murphys - is proving a good choice.  It's rather that the first week is always a big week.  Everything is new, new people, new procedures and plus there is that heat. Every door and window is open, and the noise that the trucks make as they regularly and monotonously drone by all adds up by the end of the day.

At the moment we are all needing to draw on whatever resilience we have to meet the challenges.  Resilience is a catch word in our class this week, it is our first word wall word. I am hearing stories of our 2012 Year 8 class who are now at secondary school and I would think they are needing to draw on their resilience in big doses.  I remember we are all facing challenges and that gives me the motivation to hope for myself...

As I myself am having to do the draw on my reserves of resilience.  Seems to be a slightly empty well at the moment.  There are highs and lows. The highs get me through the lows.  Then there are the humourous moments too when I find I am just not present to what I am doing.  I am unable to multi task. I have always held that I can't, although a student teacher who spent some time with me argued differently! I personally think multi tasking is over rated and not something I value anyway!
This was the date I put up for the first day! When I later in the morning asked students to date their books, their were howls of protest. They informed me I was taking 6 years off their lives!  Where was my mind I wonder when I wrote that.

Today I was doing some Quickwrites with them, giving them a minute to write and then counting the words.  All went well until the final Quickwrite, when I went into a dream, I know where I was this time.
I was thinking about how well Read to Self had gone earlier in the morning and was feeling rather pleased.  I was brought back to earth when I heard my name called a second time, my students had realised they had gone well over a minute, and that I was a very unreliable timekeeper.    Another laugh and forget counting the words!

Today a couple of students were writing up on a google doc a class covenant that we had worked on over the last few days.  They were now drafting it up for class approval. They shared it with me and I put it up on the large screen. After we had discussed the words I asked them to bullet point part of it.  A couple of dismayed faces a few minutes later and some giggles, they had lost the whole document.  I only know some things, not all things about google docs. I said to them I know there are drafts kept somewhere but I don't know where, let's try Help!  We retrieved the document and we learned something new.  However it was a bit of a tangent.

We are using google docs with the students this year, and so while some students who worked with me know how to log on, most had not worked with them.  So I demonstrated how to do it, and sent them of in 2's and 3's to practice.  I can say by the end of time that was achieved, however it was the first time we had really used the computers this year and there were some hiccups and passwords forgotten... etc., etc.  Meanwhile some of the students had finished and ..... became noisy and boisterous.  I had to stop and refocus them.  Self management is another key word this week.  I am so missing my self managing students from 2012.  I haven't had to teacher manage for a long time.  This is all a little bit of a culture shock.  I know we will get there, but I'm finding it exhausting as I juggle them and all the other demands on my time.  

Another pleasant part of the day was when a 2012 student turned up to say hello to me and some of the Year 8 students who had been in the class with her last year.  It was really exciting to hear all the excellent opportunities she is being introduced to at college.  
As she stands beside me I realise she is as tall or even taller than myself.  Some of my present students tower over me.  Oh well, all in the name of progress.  However, note to self I must not keep  looking back at my 2012 class, I need to 'love' the class I am with. It will come.

Today was Sahara's birthday. She had brought in a beautiful birthday cake.  While I was cutting and handing it out, behind me, a 12 year old boy hugs another for saying he could have his slice of cake, and he knocks yoghurt flying all over another and the carpet.  I passed back a couple of paper towels and they cleaned up.  After morning tea break more talk about cause, effect and consequences, and 'accidents'.  I suspect with the make up of some of the students this is going to be a prolonged learning event, will it take a term? a year? Ouch, I am not sure.

Reflecting on all this I know I am going to need to slow down, I am so eager to get things flowing and a great learning environment happening. I need to be patient and build for as long as it takes.  I know once the Daily Five structure is up and running fully it will certainly help to build those on task, self management skills.  Thank goodness for it.  My mind is going - "and you haven't even started Maths yet".  I say back, "be quiet and let me get there when I can".


  1. thank you for sharing this ... I always like learning how other teachers start their school year, as the first, and only time I've tried it ... well, let's say it lasted 6 days ...

    LOVELY Pic by the way :)

  2. Thank you Michael. I think it is a challenging time, because very little is just rolling. The teacher has to set it in motion. So even though this is about my 40th start with a new class it is of course always different because each set of students are unique.
    All the best for this year.

  3. Thanks for sharing Kathryn (love the date - hehe). Like you, I always find the first few weeks tiring for similar reasons - too much teacher talk, lack of independence, reminiscing about how the class were at the end of last year. We're lucky with composite classes in that we keep children for two years. This is my second year with Daily 5 so I am really interested to see how it goes with children who have done it for a year - so far not too many complaints about Reading to Self for such a short time! I loved when I introduced the independent book boxes on the first day and one of the newbies asked if he could take his box out at lunchtime and read!! All the best.

    1. I love that take your book box out to lunch!

      Today is Friday, things had a more flow feel to it, which I can only say was bliss.


  4. It sounds like a start to any year, some ups & downs, distracted people, teachers & students. You sound like a thoughtful teacher, Kathryn, & I bet it was a good week, just not what you're used to with the previous group. Happy Beginnings!

  5. Goog idea for learning at home. This content is engaging thought-provoking and motivational.


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