End of First Week!

Just finished my first week of teaching!

It’s true what they say, the first couple of years is always the hardest. Being in my third year now, I feel as if things are coming together. It really helps a lot that the I have been teaching most of the same students for two years and they know what my expectations are. I couldn’t have imagined a better first week with such a smooth running classroom (although once I lost misplaced the photocopies I was going to teach with).

I took some more photos of my class.

Read on!

Below: Took an old cardboard paper sorter that the admin didn’t want anymore. I snatched it up as soon as I saw it! These things are actually quite expensive, often over $50! I covered it with some colourful wrapping paper, but still need to relabel the shelves. The students pick up their daily handouts from here.

Below: The pencil case system is working quite wellI. Pencil cases #1 through 10 are on blue and the others are red. A sign on the wall explains that each case has a calculator, a red pen, a pencil and an eraser; if anything is missing, the teacher should be notified during the same period. It is the first thing students pick up when they come in and they get the pencil case with their “special ninja code”.

About 90% of the students do this on their own; I still have a few stragglers that come in and sit down empty-handed, wondering what to do … I have to gently chide them but I never, ever, EVER help them get their pencil cases.

I have reinforced these expectations with a few resentful rants that “I am not anyone’s waitress.” I really got tired of cleaning up after every period last year. In the last five days, I have had practically no issues.

BelowThe ladder of consequences, which I started today. Each student – in total, I have approximately 44 on paper – have their name written on a clothespin. If there is any misbehaviour, their clip goes on “verbal reminder #1”.

I explained to students that this is how I treat everyone fairly; everyone is given the opportunity to have a couple of warnings. Transparency and consistency reduces escalation as students can clearly see the consequences and where they stand.

Below: One of my favourite posters. I printed this a couple of years ago and found that it was still fairly intact. These posters help students with their metacognitive skills and encourage students to flip from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a ‘growth mindset’.

One of my favourite students, L., was reading this aloud from the bottom to the top and dancing as he read the last sentence! It was pretty funny.

Below: Yesterday, I made a foldable for our INB (interactive notebook) to review the place value system. While this might obvious to a lot of kids, second language learners can struggle with the terms, so it’s imperative to review the basics. This is also an opportune time to do some diagnostics and helps me figure out where each student stands.

Today, we did a lesson on rounding and I encouraged them to review using their foldable; these good habits build independence and gives them a set of tools for them to refer to, when they need it. Better than flash cards and I don’t have to run around the room answer the same question half a dozen times!

Below: A little poetry to help with our rounding lesson! This rhyme comes from Math with Mrs. D.


Below: Our secret math ninja codes on their pencil cases.

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8 thoughts on “End of First Week!

  1. I like the clothespin idea… I struggle with that stuff. I’m not capable of denying bathroom privileges, but love the rest… and may steal it 🙂


    • Go for it! I gave a copy of it to another teacher today. I was going to add “teacher and parent meeting” but then I ran out of space 😛


  2. Cool ideas, Min Min. Clothespin: saw something similar on Pinterest; was thinking of trying it. Obv. it must be working for you. The Ninja codes are an esp. Cool idea. Heck yeah I’d get excited about finding my code and figuring my special challenge out.
    You provide them all w their own pencil cases, though? Kids don’t play around w the contents of each other’s cases, though?


    • The kids here don’t really care about pencils and pencil cases, which is why they don’t bring their own. So far, no sabotaging … Stolen erasers to flick at one another is the only problem.


  3. Awesome ideas Min Min!! I love the clothes pin idea as well! I think I will try that in my class this year! I will definitely keep reading this!


    • The clothespin idea actually started from something else. I had a class of grade 7s who would never write their names in, it drove me mad!!! Then there were kids that would pretend to hand in their work. Eventually I started the clothespin system as their exit ticket because then I could see who was trying to sneak out without putting their paper in.

      Once they all left, I’d quickly take the pins off and then write in any missing names. It worked really well and stopped a lot of problems.


  4. I suggest you add a timeline of what you expect your class would learn/ achieve during the year course. What rewards/encouragement the class would get if the goal in different stage is achieved. Ownership of the task; peer pressure; team work. These are to support your ladder poster message that they can do it . Now they know what “it” is and when to complete it,


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