Saturday, August 23, 2014

Keeping It Real.

I just finished my first week of school!  I can't wait to share some of the fun things we did this week, but today I want to talk about "keeping it real" on our blogs. If you are like me, you often read teaching blogs and think to yourself:
"Is this for real?"
"Darn, I felt good about my classroom until I saw that second grade Pinterest picture with chandeliers and light up desks."
"How did she manage to complete those craftivities, math projects, reports, and science experiments in the same week as parent-teacher conferences, a Halloween party, AND report cards?!"

As I reflect back on my first week of school, I think it's important that as bloggers, we keep it realWe naturally want to share the GREAT things that are happening in our classroom in hopes of spreading inspiration, help, and ideas to our followers. That's a good thing, because if we are not blogging to inspire, help, and share, then we shouldn't be blogging in the first place. :) Sometimes, however, I want to send an honest message that says:

Truth: I had a rough few days during this first week of school.  I have 25 first graders who are SO sweet.  They really are wonderful and have the funniest, cutest personalities! I already love them so much!  I KNOW it's going to be an amazing year but many of my new firsties are struggling with expectations for walking in the hallways, keeping their hands to themselves, and using the restroom.  They are going to be a great class but they are going to take a bit longer to get into routine than some classes I've had in the past.  They are AMAZING in the classroom, but my expectations for the restrooms, hallways, and lining up are very different than what they were used to in kindergarten. So we are chugging along. My week went a lot like this:

We talked about what we look and sound like in the hallway. We modeled the correct, incorrect, and correct way (again) to walk in the hallway. We practiced walking in the hallway (with absolutely no agenda or place to be at - just walked to practice).  We talked about what we look and sound like when we line up. We practiced lining up. We repeated lining up for lunch 6 times one day. We modeled, modeled, modeled the correct way to behave in the restroom. 

Press the REPEAT button and that was my week.  On Thursday, I had a moment of, "What if they NEVER get it?!"  

But guess what? They did.  It is not perfect yet. But Friday was a million times better.  They walked in a straight line. They used the restroom quietly and quickly. They were respectful and silent in the hallways.  It was a true sign that we were going to be a-okay, folks!
Taping calendar numbers to the floor with clear packing tape helped them know where to stand in line. It also gave each of them their own personal "space."

I'm sharing this with you because we have all felt like this before. We have all been frustrated or worried that our kids will not be able to get into "routine" during back to school time.  Sometimes it's because we forget what first graders are like in August and September. Sometimes it's because no matter how amazing you are at classroom management, you'll have those classes during your career that are just "tough."  I blog to share ideas, but I also want my blog to be a place that teachers can come to and think, "I'm not alone in this struggle either."  Blogging is just as much about sharing as it is about supporting one another.  If you ARE struggling to get your kids to meet your behavioral expectations, I will tell you that constant modeling and practice are the two key aspects for success.  You may need to put off some academic activities that you had originally planned in order to do so.  That's okay! :)  We often need to move slow in order to eventually move very fast later in the year. :)  

Fellow bloggers, I'm challenging you to share some struggles you face in your classroom. Followers, I'm challenging you to rise above the world of Pinterest and know that you are an AMAZING teacher who does not need chandeliers and light up desks to prove it. ;)

Later today, one of my little sweethearts got up out of his seat during an activity and started walking toward me. My first thought was to repeat our WBT Rule #3: "Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat." But before I could spit the words out of my mouth he hugged me, said "I love you," and then returned to his seat.

How could you NOT know this is going to be a great year?! :)

31 comments:

  1. Awwwwww, you are so wonderfully real!!!!!

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  2. Had the same week too sweet friend! So glad to hear I am not alone. We will get there!

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  3. Sounds exactly like my week. My class also struggled with not talking while I was talking. We started a stamina chart for listening without talking. We'll get there...just going to take a little longer this year.

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  4. I really needed this post and the comments before mine. I was feeling really defeated this week, but I feel better that I am not alone. This is going to be one of those tough groups, but we will make it through.

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  5. Yup - I'm all about bloggers keeping it real....I'm no interior designer nor am I a miracle maker...we move mountains daily and I'd say that's pretty darn AWESOME!!!!!

    We all know your frustrations all too well...it's part of the gig, right? Sounds like you've worked some mini-miracles in that classroom of yours!!!!

    xoxo
    Holly
    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

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  6. Thank you...we don't have a chandelier, either! Good to hear even rock stars like you feel a bit discouraged at times. Monday is another day!!

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  7. Omgosh I LOVE this post!!

    Last year I had an ADORABLE class but they were HARD work, I had had my previous class for 2 years and I guess I was remembering them with my rose tinted glasses on when I had my new class. Up until Christmas I wondered what I was doing wrong - I had children having daily screaming tantrums, I was kicked and punched on a daily basis and then one day, it all just 'clicked' at the end of December and they turned into one of the most adorable classes I've ever had the pleasure of teaching.

    Sometimes seeing all of the wonderful activities on here does make you think, 'How on earth do they do it (and afford it!!!)?!?!' but it's nice to see that we all have our struggles, and that's perfectly ok!

    Thank you!

    Dani

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  8. I love this! Thank you for posting and letting us know it's going to be ok! I start school on Monday and even though this will be my 4th year teaching, it is a new school, new district, new kids and parents and new grade level to get used to and I am very nervous but I'll get there. Thanks!

    Sarah
    Teachingiscolorful.blogspot.com

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  9. Thanks for a "real" post! Hoping all bloggers will consider this!

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  10. I love this. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you.
    - Kelly :)
    Mrs. Campbell's Kids

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  11. Your story made me smile and reminded me of a time when I had pulled a child aside to talk to her about her behavior. The whole time I was talking to her, she hung her head down-I thought in remorse. After I finished, she looked up and said, "Mrs. Bales, I love your shoes!" Oh Lordy! Don't you just love teaching?

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  12. This is exactly what I needed to read right now! Having similar struggles with my firsties right now but am realizing that each day is a little bit better than the last when it comes to those expectations. Thank you for such a thoughtful and relatable post!

    Paige
    Paiges of Learning

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  13. Amen! What a great post for all to read, thank you! School starts in a little over a week, so I will remember to blog about both my success and challenges! And, I don't have a pintrest worthy classroom :-)
    Drazsclass.Blogspot.com

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  14. Thanks for sharing and most of all for keeping it real!!!!!

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  15. Perfect post! I love the idea of keeping it real. This was my first week with my kiddos and I share some of your exact thoughts and feelings. We modeled all week until yesterday and yesterday was by far our most difficult day. Why? After reading your post, I realized that we didn't really review our expectations like we had all week. Modeling is definitely the key to successful classroom management.

    This is my 20 th year of teaching. But this year I felt like it was my first. I totally felt inadequate and second guessed everything I thought and planned. I did this because of what I had been seeing and reading on social media. I love the fact that at a skip, jump, and a click I can find a wealth of information and advice for anything related to education. But while that is all great, there is a part of that can really tear a teachers self worth down when they are reading about glitter and sparkle and perfect classes with even more perfect teachers. I love that this whole post is on keeping it real. I learn more from the truth than I do the sparkle sometimes. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings. And thanks for keeping it real!

    Karen
    An Apple a Day in First Grade

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  16. Wonderful post, thanks so much for sharing! We just finished our second week and are still working on getting lines quiet too. Thank goodness we are super close to the cafeteria and the bathrooms or I might pull my hair out. It is so tuff to remember how "little" they are at the beginning of the year. Thanks for keeping it real so we don't feel alone...lol. When our little ones tell us things like that it makes all those bad days totally worth it!

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

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  17. I agree...it is NOT all glitter, unicorns, and gentle breezes. Last year was more like staple guns, dragons, and hurricanes for me. I am doing LOTS of positive self talk that this year I will remain calm, centered, and positive....do you SEEEEEEEEEEEEEE the calm around me? No chandeliers in this girl's room either, but I think I can still manage to pull out a decent lesson once in a while without it. ;) Now--walking in lines well? Ask me on September 3!

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  18. Hmm, maybe I'll take my chandeliers down. JUST KIDDING! I have been thinking about this exact topic for the last few days. There is a saying that is something like "You can't compare your insides to everyone else's outsides." I think the same can be said in this instance, but it would be more like "You can't compare pinterest/blog posts to your day-to-day." Thanks for the much needed message! (Also, isn't always the case that the most adorable and lovable classes are the most work. Personality is a double-edged sword I guess.) :-)

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  19. You are so right !!! Love you girl. I know you will get your firsties where you want them to be socially, emotionally and academically. They are lucky to have you. Xoxo vicky

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  20. Great post! I totally agree! Even with the students it's great to admit our struggles and things that go wrong in the classroom. We're human and our students need to see us as real people. If we model dealing with struggle in positive ways, our students will deal with their struggles much more effectively.

    What I Have Learned

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  21. Wow Christina, it is like you wrote this post for me! The first 3 weeks were TOUGH this year inside and outside. But, it has gotten better every week, and last week was our best yet. We still have some rough spots in our day, but we are constantly working on them (with some students needing extra 1 on 1 practice) I am so glad you wrote this! Thanks

    Nicole
    Mrs. Rios Teaches

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  22. I think I might have snorted with laughter while reading the "chandeliers and light up desk" comment! Bravo to you for writing honestly about the repetition, frustration, repetition, exhaustion, repetition, and more repetition that is the name of our primary teaching game at the beginning of the school year. My second graders may need HULA HOOPS to define their space bubbles this year, and seat belts to stay at in/on and not over, under, or falling off of their chairs! HA! Maybe a little velcro will work on Monday? Humor will see us through! Thanks for sharing your "real life" story!
    ~Jennifer
    Stories and Songs in Second

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  23. I don't think those first 1-3 weeks of school are ever easy!! Especially in kindergarten! I always forget and then when the new year rolls around, I quickly remember!!!! We started on a Thursday and have been going strong for 12 days now! My kinders are very precious, but by the end of the day, I am spent. Thanks so much for your honesty. BTW, I'm still trying to get my classroom better organized and I'm just now decorating my door to make it look really cute! We weren't able to get many days to get our rooms ready this summer and during preplanning, so we are all hoping that next year we will have more time. It will get better with time....I just know it will!! Thanks again! Linda G.

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  24. I think the first week are the hardest or that could be the honeymoon stage some ppl say! Great post!

    Love

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! It's so easy for us to compare our classrooms, blogs, and even ourselves to our teacher friends. I remember while putting my classroom together having the thought of I gotta make this area cute like ___'s blog for it to be good. I had to take a step back and remind myself that classroom design should always have kids in mind first!
    Teaching, Love, Cupcakes

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  26. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real. Teaching is hard. Building a classroom community and procedures takes time. My hardest day is usually followed by my best day. A good night sleep and reflection are the best tools we can use as teachers. Kathy Griffin's Teaching Strategies

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  27. I love this post! Yes, we do need to post more about the imperfect things that happen because, let's face it, there's plenty of it! I definitely have those lessons that flop, those moments where the class just isn't engaged, times when the camera is far from away for good reason. :) I can't wait to read more about your journey this year. :)

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  28. Great post! If you aren't real readers are going to know it anyway. I also LOVE the reflective-journaling aspect of blogging. I don't always have witty or eloquent things to say, but a year from now, when I reread it to see what I was doing, I remember to adjust for what went well, what didn't, and my new group of kiddos. Thanks for sharing your heart.
    Laurie
    Chickadee Jubilee

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  29. Wow, thanks for writing such a touching post! It was a good reminder that yes everyday is not going to all sunshine and happy faces and it is important to recognize these days learn from them and move on. I am new to blogging but I will definitely be sharing my good times, rough times and all the stuff in between with my followers. I look forward to reading more about your adventures with your class this school year. Have fun!!

    You can check my blog out at http://dancingwithmrsg.blogspot.ca/

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  30. LOVED your post, and that lining up giant learning curve brought back some memories! I know every day can't be all glitter and sparkles, but I always like to sprinkle just a little glitter somewhere in the room before the kids get there just to give me hope that some sparkling days are just around the corner!
    Hope you have a great year!

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