I don't always have to be the teacher

There have been times I've felt that it's my job and responsibility to educate and teach every student the difference between right and wrong.

There have been times where a student makes a mistake and I take the opportunity to explain why what they did was wrong.

And there have been times where I fail to notice that sometimes a mistake is simply a mistake and that students may actually have already learned their lesson before I intervene.

I need to remember that I don't always have to be the teacher.

No Opt Out

Getting this new class halfway through the year is forcing me to revisit some of my "back to school" routines and plans. A large part of that comes from the book, "Teach Like a Champion". It's full of great and manageable techniques to use in the classroom.

I'm going to spend the next few weeks looking back through the book to see if there are any that would work well with this new group of students.

Technique 1 - No Opt OutA sequence that begins with a student unable to answer a question should end with the student answering that question giving the right answer.

I could have used this today for sure. We were reviewing some math concepts and there were a handful of students who replied with, "I don't know" or "Umm..." that would have benefitted from this technique. By using this strategy, the class will soon understand that they do not have any other choice but to try.

Doing this tomorrow!

The class switch

I got a new class this semester. It's a year course and another teacher started with them back in the fall. For reasons that I'm not going to explain here, I've been switched to be their teacher for the rest of the year. Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal.

It's an 8th grade class.

I've never taught 8th graders before. I've hung out with them at youth group and taken them on mission trips, but in all of those situations, I wasn't expected to teach them stuff.

My teaching experience spans 4th, 5th and 6th grade. And that's where it stops.

I'm pretty nervous about it, but I'm also really excited about the new challenges it will present me. I am looking forward to seeing what works with them and what does not. What motivates them and what bores them. I'm also interested to see if my management techniques, which I had originally developed for 8 & 9 year-olds, will translate to 12 & 13 year-olds.

First Day of School Quiz - Year Six

This will be the sixth time that I'm giving a 'First Day of School' Quiz.

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I've had a tough time these past two years setting up the questions. Since I've moved to middle school, my schedule has a few kids in my Math block as well as my Science block.

Essentially, I see the same kid twice in a single day.

So I have to make two sets of quizzes. Some of the questions I don't change because I feel like every student of mine should have to answer.

Anyway, the last question is still always my favorite. They give a written response to this prompt:

If Mr. Arakaki wanted to be the best teacher you've ever had, what would he need to do?

Here are some of the ones that caught my eye.*

"He should let us go on faceBook. To tex on owe Phone."

"giveout treats - especially chocolate and pickles."

"Decorate your classroom a bit more."

"To be the best teacher I would have, you would have to be like the cool teacher not strict or mean. But strict When you need to be. When I think of a cool teacher I think funny, and nice. I like when my teachers help Me When I really need help, and they are not tough on me. I also really like the kids of teachers that pushes us to do more and get our work done, it helps me as a student when I have teachers like that."

"First: do not git in fights or do bad thangs. Do not be strike be nice. Don't let us melt in her. Don't give us to much homework. Thats what you should do to be best teach."

"I Thank you should do math with food because. I thank it would be fun and make us want to learn"

"What"

"Basically, tell some jokes and thats about it." 

And one of the students included this awesome note:

"Thanks Mr. A! The apples you like are called Pink Lady. I'll give you seeds some time so you can grow your own apples. At least two, so they can pollinate each other!"

There aren't that many things that I've done every year that I've taught, but this is one of them.

*To preserve authenticity, all responses were typed out exactly as I could decipher.

Moving to Middle School

It's already May and I haven't blogged at all this school year. It may or may not be related to this being my first year teaching content in a new grade level and at a new school. After teaching fourth grade for two years and two more in fifth, I moved on.

6th grade. Middle school.

For some reason, the past few weeks have been finding me frequently reflecting on the past few months. Perhaps it's all of the questions that are asked during the last quarter of the year.

"How was your year, did you like it? Do you miss elementary school? Are you going to come back next year? What sections do you want to teach? So, what do you think of middle school?"

It's taken some time to sort through all of it. Most of the reasons that influenced me to take this current position no longer exist or apply. The complicated part is that there have been new factors which have been introduced during this school year that invite me to stay.

I've been pushed to really examine what I want to do, where I want to be and what direction I want to head.

Need to figure this out. It's time.