Teacher Tuesday- Happy, Focused, and Clear

[all about the Struggle Bus!]

This year I’ve instituted a few new things in my classroom to help both students and myself, so I thought I’d share them today.  

Happy: Every day I pretty much as soon as I walk into my classroom I make a to-do list for the day (Mondays I make a master list and then farm out the big, looming tasks; I’ll cover organization in another post), and earlier this school year I’ve started adding three things at the bottom that make me happy or are positive. I don’t usually buy into “think rainbows and butterflies/manifest your greatness/everyone is beautiful” kind of thoughts, but this has really helped me start the day and refocus if things get rough later. These items can be about home or work, simple or complex, important or trivial. Today my list was that I paid off my iPhone, sorted some thing out with our picky HOA (grass is hard to grow in December, sheesh), and that I was able to confirm some fun plans later this month.

Focused: My students are okay with their cell phones; some never look at them, some way too frequently, and some have cheated with them in class. I don’t like taking them away, just because they’re not toddlers and also for liability reasons, so I bought clear plastic boxes (with lids!) for each table group and when I see they might be becoming an issue, or we’re taking a test, I have them put away. This way the phones are right in front of them and I don’t have to touch them. It’s been so easy, cheap, and effective that I’ll do it until everyone has communication chips permanently implanted in their bodies.

Clear: We read a lot of complicated works in IB that the students often have issues with, but might feel uncomfortable asking. I now have a “Struggle Bus” poster on one of my cabinets that students can put question post-its on, which I’ll address as we move through the work. We had a ton for Macbeth but less so for the last book, which I thought was interesting. This also helps inform my future teachings of the books, as I can see what the kids are having the most trouble with. Even if it’s not being utilized in droves, I like the fact that it is a resource for kids to get come clarification if they need it.   

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