First Day of School Quiz - Year Six

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


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"


"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.

A "cool" teacher

There's less than a week of school left and the students in my classes have been working (surprisingly) hard on their independent science presentations. Most of the class knows what they should be working on and what to do next, so it gives me time to check-in with each student throughout the block.

Today, I checked in with a student whose topic is space stations and the impact they've had on scientific research and space exploration. After conferencing with him on what he was working on and some places where he could improve, I started to leave to move onto the next student. As I began to walk away, the student next to him says it.

"You're a cool teacher."

I really don't like hearing this from students. I really don't. It bothers me. A huge part of me does not want to be known as a cool teacher and would rather simply be known as a great teacher.

The student stared me down and obviously wanted me to respond. Unfortunately, I couldn't think fast enough to reply any other way. I said what was on my mind.

"I'd rather be a great teacher."

We engaged in a little discussion of what I felt the difference was and he tried to understand. I did my best to explain that even though I'm glad he enjoys my class and thinks the activities and lessons we do are fun and says it's his least boring class, I would rather him leave my room having grown as a learner, creator, thinker and individual.

Blank stare...

And then I was floored.

"You mean like how we don't ask you questions that we can answer ourselves?"

Oh, happy day.

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.