New teacher diaries

May 26, 2011

Testing Miss Malarkey

Top 10 questions/comments made by my 3rd-graders during their first-ever set of English language arts and math state exams (aka “Why teaching in a testing grade may cause premature aging,” or “Why I have Band-Aids on all my fingers from nervously picking off the cuticles while proctoring”).

May 12, 2011

'Get me out of 3rd grade'

Test prep in my 3rd-grade class has been extremely stressful. First of all, I’ve never taught “test prep” before, least of all to kids who have never taken “THE TEST” before. I’m convinced my co-teacher and I don’t know what we’re doing and if the children do poorly, it will be our fault for not adequately preparing them.

April 28, 2011

Toy story

I allow my 1st- and 2nd-grade special education students to bring small toys to school. The toys help keep them out of trouble at lunch with necessary imaginative diversions that they don’t get in school otherwise. They also lend a sense of security to the students, who know they have something genuinely their own in school with them.

April 14, 2011

What’s inside the mystery envelope?

A few weeks ago, I was struck with some inspiration before the kids arrived one morning and decided to create a “mystery envelope” to add some intrigue to my elementary special education classroom. After its debut, I hung it near our calendar as a reminder that “you never know what’s inside the mystery envelope!” and as a somewhat passive message that good things come to those who earn them.

March 24, 2011

Lesson from a former student

A former student came to visit me one recent Friday morning. I was taken by surprise when he walked in my door. “Carlos” was a student who had a hard time sitting still in the beginning of last year. He often needed help with things that other students could do independently. Yet he was one of the students I’d miss whenever he was absent.

March 10, 2011

Year of the rabbit

I work in the heart of Flushing, which boasts a large and growing Chinese population. I want my students to feel welcome to share their traditions with the class, and a great way to facilitate this was to plan the biggest Chinese New Year party I could.

February 17, 2011

A number of my students, during mini lessons, are deeply engaged. Deeply engaged, that is, with various activities other than paying attention to my mini lesson. They are drawing on their folders. They are playing with their fingers, or with the person’s hair in front of them.

February 3, 2011

Reinventing the teacher

In my first two years as a teacher, I worked with upper-grade general education classes. This year, I’m in a different world in two ways: I’m teaching primary grades and mine is a special education class.

January 20, 2011

New Year’s resolutions

So a year has come and gone and I’m now starting to feel like more of a veteran than a newbie. As always, I try to take time to reflect on the past and set goals for the future — what better time than just as a new year is beginning?

December 16, 2010

Fits and starts

In my first year of teaching a self-contained special education class of 1st- and 2nd-graders, I’ve been facing my share of challenges. Donald, a bespectacled boy of 7, is one of them.

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