Beating the Blahs

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This long stretch between Christmas break and Spring Break is taking its toll on the staff and students at school. We’re all ready for a break, and it’s beginning to show. Nevertheless, I’m pushing through and making the best of each day–what else can you do, right?

My partner and I have been experimenting with a variety of teaching methods to see which ones work best for, and continually engage our students. We’ve found that lessons involving physical movement tend to be best at keeping the kids interested in math. We’ve also had some great discussions about  major topics, like negative numbers, the relationship between addition and multiplication, etc, which I love seeing from middle schoolers. They’re working on cooperating with partners and sharing their thoughts in front of the class. This is something that has been extremely effective–having them come up to the board and justify their solutions and thought processes with everyone else. Watching their excitement about being able to assume the role of the teacher is inspiring, because it shows their understanding of a concept and confidence in justifying their reasoning. I try to call on them as often as possible to give them this opportunity. It can often be difficult to ensure that I am getting all of the students to volunteer equally, because some volunteer more than others. However, I think it’s important to get everyone up to the board because it gives me a better sense of the entire class’s understanding, rather than just those whose voices tend to dominate the classroom. I try to regularly reinforce that making mistakes is no big deal–in fact, it can actually help us learn more as a class. This has gotten a few more volunteers to come up and share their thinking with the rest of us.

In order to “beat the blahs,” our school is hosting a slew of events and activities to motivate the students to keep pushing through. We’re currently in the midst of spirit week (which the teachers may be enjoying more than the kids!) as well as activities like student vs. staff basketball games, mini-olypics and more. It has seemed to make the school days a bit more enjoyable for the students, but a break is definitely much needed.

I’ve been teaching at least one hour a day most days, and it is amazing to me how much more comfortable the students are around me compared to when I first arrived. I feel like I’ve built up a good relationship with them, and I really take the time to get to know them–their likes, dislikes–and try to incorporate them, even if only briefly, into the daily lessons. It’s the little things that count. 🙂

That’s about all there is to report as of now. I’m still loving every moment of being in the classroom and teaching the students. In fact, I’m learning quite a few new words myself–urban dictionary has become my new favorite tool! Ha-ha

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