Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spelling

As a resource room teacher, many of your students will probably have a lot of difficulty spelling even simple words.  I have recently started using the students writing as a way to create their spelling word lists.  My plan for next year is to give the students a few weeks to adjust to school.  I will look at the spelling lists they are given in the classroom (and look to see how they are doing so far).  Then I will decide which students need an individualized spelling list.  After getting parents permission, I will use the students writing to determine their spelling list. 
I created a sheet titled "Future Spelling Lists".  Together, the student and I will look through their writing.  We will pick out words that they really need to know and add them to the list.  Set a number of words the student will have each week, say 10.  Assign the first 10 words on the list.  If the student spells the word correctly on the test, put a check next to the word.  If the word is spelled incorrectly on the test, do not put a check.  It can be added to a future spelling list.  If you notice that the student is now spelling the word correctly in their writing, highlight the word to show true mastery.  I am going to keep this list in the students writing folder. 
If you are having trouble finding 10 misspelled words a week, talk with the teacher about current and upcoming units in science, social studies, and math.  Use some of the vocabulary words as spelling words.  Another list could be the names of pets, friends and family members.  I hope you will find this helpful!

-Becky

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Planning

My apologies for not updating in a while!  There has been a lot going on lately and since I didn't follow my own advice, I was short on time.  Set aside one day a week to stay late and write your plans for the following week. Once they are written, make the copies you need and stick the materials into manila folders, labeled with the days of the week. All Monday materials will go in the Monday folder etc...I personally keep these files on my desk in a step sorter. I have gotten my kids used to using these as well. On Monday, I will have the Tuesday folder on the table with the kids. At the end of the period, they can throw their unfinished work into the Tuesday folder for tomorrow. If a substitute comes in unexpectedly, your plans are done and your materials are ready to go. After a few weeks, your students will be so used to this system that they can show the sub exactly where everything is.

-Becky

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mental Health Days

I really needed a mental health day today.  Although today is more like a get-all-the-paperwork-done-without-students day.  It seems impossible to keep up with all the paperwork I have this year.  I know it's  not impossible but it sure feels that way.  I have service logs (each day I see a student I have to write down the date, time I saw them, if I was out or they were out, and what "day" it is in the 6 day cycle.  If I miss a day, I have to write down my make up times.  I have to turn these in to 3 different people...well 4 because I have 2 principals...at the end of each month.), IEP's to write, end of the year reflections, reflections for my portfolio, forms to fill out for district office, welcome letters to write for my incoming summer students, and gathering lesson ideas for the summer students.  After making that list I'm starting to feel like one day off isn't enough!  It doesn't help that I have a sore throat and I feel like I'm starting to get a sinus infection.  I'm going to go curl up and watch some HGTV for a while before I begin to tackle this daunting to-do list. 

-Becky

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Schedule

My schedule changes every 2-4 weeks. Students are added, moved around, or no longer need my help. It's easy to just copy and paste kids around in your schedule but I really recommend printing out a new copy of your schedule EVERYTIME it changes. Keep them all in a folder with the dates of the changes and why it changed. I would also keep a list of students in that folder. When you get new students, write down their name and the date they were added.  If students are switched from another teacher to you, have them email it to you.  You can simply say "I have to go get my next group, can you just email me the name?" Get everything in writing...it's better to be safe than sorry. 
-Becky

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Attendance

How are you going to keep track of attendance? Some schools will require you to take it everyday (especially in the middle school and high school). If not, you should still keep track for your own purposes. My records do not always match the schools (times are off, dates are entered wrong). Mailbox magazine has a lot of helpful organizers for teachers in it. Go to your library and flip through some of them. Look for a class list to keep attendance with. I personally didn't keep up with the organizer I found. My schedule changes too quickly - I see some kids every other day etc... I now keep track in my lesson plans. I have two columns set up. In the first column I list the time, teacher, grade, classroom number, and students names that I see in that time period. In the second column, I write out my plan for the day. I simply put a check or an A next to their names everyday. If students are out frequently, I try to mark the reason. For example, if a student is continually getting lice, I mark the days the student has lice. You never know when that information is going to come in handy!
-Becky

Monday, May 10, 2010

Welcome Letter

After you decide on your rules and consequences, your next to-do list item is creating a welcome letter to students and parents. My letter was very simple. I introduced myself as their child’s special education teacher. I told them that I thought parent-school communication is very important and I gave them my contact information. I also stated that I attached an information sheet to the letter and asked them to fill it out and send it back by the second week of school. The contact sheet asked for:
1. Students name
2. Mothers name, phone, email
3. Fathers name, phone, email
4. Best way and time to contact them
5. Any allergies their child has
6. Blank lines for anything else they think I should know about their child
In your letter, you can also include any special activities you have planned (make sure they are principal approved before telling parents). My school didn't allow me to have my own supply list but if you can, add that as well. Some teachers offer a Hershey Kiss for every book donated to the classroom (and a label with the students name inside of course!). My blackboard site was not up before school started, but if yours is, include information on how to access the site and what information you have on it. There are many pieces of information you can include in this letter but there is also nothing wrong with keeping it very simple. You can always send home other letters.

-Becky

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rules and Consequences

Once you have a job, writing your rules and consequences is the most important thing on your to-do list. Take your time with this. Choose rules that are easy to understand yet are broad enough to cover many situations. Some of my rules are:
1. Enter and exit the room quietly (I share a classroom so this is VERY important to me)
2. Think before you speak and act. (This covers all bad behaviors)
3. Come in with a positive attitude.

Most of the books I read said you should write these with your students. I think that in a resource room and your first year, you should have them written and ready to go on the wall Day 1. Reveal the rules one by one and go over why each rule is important. Have the students practice each rule before going on to the next. I had my students sign the rules on the first day of school. Then I hung it up in a visible spot. If you spend a good portion of the first week on the rules (in depth the first day, review them the next few days), the students will follow them.
When you write consequences, make sure you pick things that you can stick to. If you are really against sending students to the principal – don’t use that as a consequence. Pick things that you are comfortable with. I like to use a visual system with my students. I use a color system – green is good, yellow is first warning, orange is miss 10 minutes of recess, red is all of recess and a letter or call home. Each student has a pencil name tag that is glued onto a clothes pin. Their pencil is clipped onto the color they are on. Everyone starts at green.  As they break rules, they move to the next color.  Make sure the rules and consequences are posted in the room. 
Also have some sort of reward system in place. Even if it is as simple as “I’m going to randomly reward students who are following the rules.” I give out random tickets (like carnival tickets I found at orientaltrading.com). Students can earn a ticket for coming into the room quietly, helping a friend, following directions, using vocabulary words…anything! My prize bin is organized by the number of tickets things cost. They save their tickets in a zip-lock bag. Review the rules and consequences when students need reminders (especially after long breaks). Don’t forget to go over fire drill exits and procedures etc on the first day as well.
-Becky

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hello World...

Hello World,
Allow me to introduce myself and my concept for this blog. My name is Becky and I am a first year Resource Room teacher. I teach students from K-5th grade in 2 different buildings. Needless to say, organizing myself to teach 6 different grade levels at 2 buildings was not an easy task. It's still not easy even after 8 months of practice! As I was searching professional books for help, I realized that there is nothing out there for specifically for Resource Room teachers. My goal for this blog is to reflect on my teaching and share with you my tips and tricks for getting through the first few years. I also want this to be a learning experience for me. Please share your ideas with me as I share with you. I hope you will find my experiences and advice helpful. I look forward to sharing with you!

-Becky