Looking back on the year, I think I will find it helpful to write this blog post so I can read it again in September and perhaps some other teachers can read it to assist them in preparations for a new school year. I would like to reflect on things that worked well this year and things that I may leave behind. It has been an incredible year of learning new things, learning how to teach new ways and of course, learning how to get back to doing the things we have loved to do. Without further preamble, here goes it.

Things that worked well

New seats every month

Students looked forward to selecting new group buddies each month in order to form new friendships and work with new people. Eventually, students decided to keep their seats as they had found a group they really messed well with. Students were excited for the change each month and some even reminded me the day before in anticipation for the change. I even threw in the option of teacher’s choice which is when I would assign them a random spot in the room.

Leadership Competition

Each year, I love to run a leadership competition in my classroom which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to our classroom and school. Students without the motivation to do anything beyond school work often find the extra energy when this competition is announced. How it works is that students that help out around the class or school would receive a small sticker that they would put beside their name. Before winter break, before March break and at the beginning of June, students count their stickers so far to see who is in the lead. I award the top five at the end of the school year a leadership certificate and a price of their choice. My top student this year volunteered/assisted around the class and school over 270 times this year. I look forward to running this again next year.

Pizza Sales

This year I assisted in selling pizza to the students in our school. Not only that, but I decided to turn it into a small marketing project by having students make posters, announcements and look at the cost/profit per slice. We then looked at the total cost and profit on a weekly basis, tracking why pizza would sell differently from one week to the next. It was an exciting class project as various 7/8 students would sell each week. They used this experience in job interviews for the food sales as I mentioned in a previous blog post.

Job Interviews

I loved hosting job interviews this year which coincided with our resume workshop. Students practiced for either real of fictional job opportunities. They had to provided references and list some experience within the school. The students who were successful were then selected to sell food at our soccer tournament. This was a great way to select the student leaders and I hope to do this again next year with other opportunities.

Student Coaches

Having older students coach the younger students is a great way for them to gain confidence, test their leadership skills and build their resume as a leader in our school. It was great to see my students excel and establish lovely connections with younger students. I also have students job interview for this position as well to ensure equity and transparency within the process. I hope to try this with many more sports next year rather than just soccer.

Equal celebrations for all

Placing the same emphasis on all holidays, board celebrations and spirit days next year will be an important way to establish and promote equity in our school. Making all celebrations optional and making sure all students feel valued. You can read more about how I approached this this year in some of my earlier posts.

Things I would not do again

Pre-planning each month

Planning a month in advance never worked well this year. I would find we would either finish early or late and then I would have to rework the entire plan. I would prefer to plan week by week next year but using the annual plan as a guide. This will ensure that I look at what I did the week before to see where I am going.

Longer assignments

I feel that my students had a maximum amount of time that they would like to spend on a final project/presentation. While students worked on their structures and mechanisms assignment, I found that they would get bored doing it for weeks at a time. The magic number for activities was one week. They would start on a Monday and have to finish or present by the Friday. This would ensure that they put their best effort into it and would also make sure it did not draw on for too long.

Book Roles

Having students all read the same novel with a group of students does have it benefits but of course, none of them read at the same speed as another. I also found that they grew tired of the same six book roles and would rather just do one assignment about the book at the end of reading it. I think for next year I will let them select their own independent novel from the library rather than 1 out of 7 book group books that I had. I would also give the option of all the assignments but perhaps at the middle and end of the book.

That is all I can think of for now but aim to keep a book next year, making sure to keep note of things that worked well and didn’t, marking them down as I go. I hope everyone has a safe and restful summer and I look forward to blogging again in September!

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