Whew! I just finished the first days of a new school year. This is my 18th year of teaching, so the first days of school aren’t exactly “new” for me any more. What is new is my wholehearted use of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques with my fourth grade students. I don’t know if it’s the techniques or my experience, but this school year is the most stress-free start ever! The hardest part of my first day of school was staying up late to watch the Season 4 premiere of Duck Dynasty! 9 o’clock is past my bedtime! Okay, so let’s reflect on the first three days…what’s gone well, what’s a little shaky and what would I do differently.
Rule 3 Surprise
Rule #3. I modified the wording from Coach B’s original: “Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.” I changed it to read: “Raise your hand for permission to leave the room.” Hmmm…after only three days, I’m beginning to wonder about that decision. I thought that having my fourth grade students raise their hand every time they needed to blow their nose or turn in an assignment would drive me nuts. You know what might drive me nuts instead? Having kids “in my face” to ask me a question. It’s like there is some kind of magnetic attraction between us! It’s still only August. I will just use these opportunities to teach them what I expect.
Out with the Old, In with the New
There’s nothing like actually teaching a Power Pix to students to suddenly realize that your gesture is…well, not exactly right! I’ve had time to teach three math Power Pix so far, and I’ve modified or completely changed two of the three gestures!! The changes are definitely an improvement and needed to happen, so I don’t regret that decision. I simply created a file in Evernote where I’m keeping track of those Power Pix that need to have their gestures modified. Next summer’s “to do” list has already begun!
Fourth Grade Pace
One decision that I am happy about is starting off at a slower pace. I gave myself eight days to teach my students all our Whole Brain Teaching techniques and routines. In the past, I used the first three days of school to complete our fourth grade testing. It was a tight fit to get it all done in that time frame. This year, I had the time to not only teach my students our procedures, but also practice them many times. The payoff is that I spend less time correcting them later in the school year, and we can focus on instruction. That makes everyone happy, happy, happy!