Monday, December 17, 2012

my first "classroom"

A few weeks ago I posted about a possible new position within my school...well, I got that job. And now I am trying my best to run the alternative high school. Keep in mind that I am an elementary teacher people! Any other teachers will agree, that you are elementary or secondary (middle school or high school) So kids that are in alternative high school is a huge leap from first graders and even being a one-on-one aide with an eighth grader. But since I'm not actually teaching the high school content, its not so bad. I just have to "manage the classroom," which some days can be a challenge. But the moral of the story is I got this room...a lifeless uninspiring boring place. There was a teacher in here, who quit, and then a sub for a couple weeks while they tried to figure out what to do with the position. So the sub did a little bit to make it more warm and inviting and a little less prison like...

So here's what I have done so far to make it better...but I am open to suggestions on other ways to improve it. Any other alt. ed. people out there?? I'd love some suggestions.

 The sub had made the original board...with the colored background stars and the students' names. The first thing I did was add the courses completed header so that you actually knew what the board was for. I also updated the name to a much cuter font. They were just in boring old Times New Roman--lame! But the addition of the board at all was much better than the room was before!

The sub also had a system in place for tracking how many "modules" they complete in a week. I forgot to take a before picture, so this in an in between picture. The previous system was just using white board markers- each student's name was written and they got a tally for each "module" that they completed. It was also labeled, I just updated it to be cute and bright. I also updated the names to match the other board.

Then, I took it a step further and made these adorable stars! I just love them. They are super simple, just printed on the bright colored paper, cut, laminated, cut out and add a magnet to the back. I also added the current leader space. These kids need all the extra motivation they can get!!

 Another thing that was lacking when I arrived was rules. The problem was, there weren't any! Swearing, phones out constantly, messing around and making no progress!! It was absolute chaos! So I posted rules and the At-Risk Coordinator and I made a contract for each of the students and their parents to sign.

  Next to the modules tracking board I also posted a few alternative education guidelines.  It tells them how many courses they need to complete per semester and how the modules are broken down so they know exactly how to earn stars and how many they will earn.

I also posted due dates for each of the courses. Common sense tells you that kids need directions, and rules and timelines. So deadlines were set for each of their courses. I set their first set of deadlines with way more than enough time to complete the course, just so I wasn't coming in as some crazy lady with insane expectations. They had little to no structure before, so I didn't any of them to stop showing up because of all the new rules.

I still feel like its very bare and unwelcoming...but maybe that's just because I'm used to elementary. I feel like it needs a comfy chair and a rug in the corner. But maybe that's just what I think it needs, and not actually what the kids need?

Any high school or alternative education teachers out there with suggestions??? I would appreciate any input!

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