Mr. Kubala and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

We all have them.  I had a doozy of one a few weeks ago.  Myself and, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

It all started off when I decided to use the iPads in my classroom for the first time.  I did not have a system for handing them out efficiently so there was chaos in getting the iPads to students.  I also opted to forego the day’s Warm-Up so we could get to the fun Review Activity I had planned for the day – more chaos.  That day a parent decided she was going to sit next to her student during that class which helped with that one student, but all other students were off the wall.  One more change to the regular routine I would guess.

Students were unfocused, not following my directions and I had to, dare I say, raise my voice to get the students’ attention.  To top it all off, my Principal decided she would be in my room to make Mom more comfortable and make sure that everything was going well.

Although I have been teaching a number of years, I am new to this campus and this was the first time my new Principal saw me in action.  Not good.  I am embarrassed by what she saw.  The only good thing I can say is that after the students were settled, they got into the review game I had planned.  Everything else, unfortunately, was a loss.

Lessons I had forgotten:

  • Students need to have the expectations set out BEFORE the equipment is handed out.
  • It is easier to start class with control and keep it than to gain control back later in the class.  (The same can be said for the school-year)
  • Do not deviate from routines – they are there to keep order in class.  Students need to know what to expect in your class.
  • It’s okay to say, “No.”  I knew that my day was not going well, I should not have allowed the parent in my classroom on that particular day.  Any other day, OK, with more than one minute notice.
  • Invite your Supervisor, whoever that may be, to your class well before they have a chance to see you at your worst.  I’ve had plenty of other days that would have been a better representation of what kind of teacher I am.

I have my formal evaluation this week and with a little luck, and a lot of planning, I am hoping that my Principal has a better opportunity to see me in action.  I am also going to have to work extra hard to get out of the hole that I am now in because of the first impression she has of my teaching.

What about you?  Have you ever had a similar experience?  What did you do?  How did your Supervisor respond?

Automatic Classroom Seating Chart Maker – Updated

A seating chart is one of the most important tools in a teacher’s arsenal in classroom management.  Happy Class makes this an easy task and potentially saves hours and hours of work.

HappyClassLogo

First you setup your classroom with the seats arranged they are in your classroom.  Next you input the names of your students.  Much like any other seating chart app, Happy Class automatically arranges all of the students in a random order.  The power comes in teaching Happy Class the relationships of the students.

Happy Class allows you to teach it which students work well next to each other and which students should not sit next to each other.  This is an awesome power to have!  I have used it for one class so far and it helped me tremendously.  I projected the seating chart onto the screen and had the students find their new seats.  I was able to easily tweak the new seating chart on the fly by dragging the names of students to the corresponding seats.

Overall, Happy Class worked really well.  I was very impressed with the interface and ease of use.  It is free to use for one classroom and one roster of students.  In my opinion the price of $15/yr  is steep for the Pro account.  The Pro account does allow an unlimited number of students, unlimited number of classrooms, and unlimited number of class rosters.

Again, for one teacher this seems overly expensive, however if you work in a team of teachers the $15 could be divided by the number of teachers on your team.  My only concern would be as the number of teachers using the same account increase so do the chances that someone will accidentally mess up another teacher’s classroom.

Happy Class is a very cool concept and worth a look.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

http://happyclassapp.com

Update:

I have since run into problems using Happy Class.  I have contacted tech support several times and alerted them via Twitter also.  My problems have not been resolved.    In a large class with many relationships, it is freezing on Achieving Happiness.  This has been a huge frustration.

Classroom Economy

A few weeks ago I introduced my classes to a classroom economy.  For those of you unfamiliar with a classroom economy, it is a system setup for classroom management and introduces students to how an economy works.

The system can be as simple or complex as you like.  I am using the system available for free at http://www.myclassroomeconomy.org/

Everything you need is on the website, or if you don’t have access to a printer, they will mail you everything you need for free.  I am mostly using the resources available for Grades 7-8 since I teach 8th grade science.  I modified some of the jobs and added a few that are specific just to my classroom.  For example I have an Entrance Door Monitor and an Exit Door Monitor.  The Entrance Door Monitor makes sure students coming into the classroom get their daily warm-up.

The gist of a classroom economy is that every student has a job that they get paid for in classroom dollars.  They are responsible for paying for rent of their desks and/or chairs.  Most of the jobs pay around $150/week while rent costs $800/month.  Students get paid extra for high scores on tests or participation in extra-curricular activities.

One thing that was keeping from trying this sooner was keeping track of what I called, “Kubala Dolla’s.”  After much searching, I found an online bank created for this particular purpose.  You can setup a free account at http://www.mykidsbank.org/  You will have to setup accounts for all of your students, but I find that this is much easier than keeping up with all of that paper.

One of the best things about mykidsbank.org is that you can print your own money in denominations of your choosing.  Each bill you print will have its’ own unique code so students just can’t go and make copies of them.  They will have to enter the code whenever they deposit their cash into the bank.

Since I use mykidsbank.org, the Banker’s job is a little different than what is described on myclassroomeconomy.org.  My bankers are responsible for taking fines out of students’ accounts issued by the Police Officer.  Bankers also make transfers when a student writes a check.  I made my own check template which you can download from:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/gjaqjbrf62416rk/Checks_template.docx

This upcoming week will be the first time students have to pay rent, so we will see how many students have saved enough money.  I am still formulating a plan for those students who do not have enough money for rent.

I will post more about the success and challenges that I face with this system in the future.