Thursday, August 13, 2009

quick house-keeping and an important question

To those of you who have just come in, it must be a little bit confusing this layout and the switch-over from a blog about Springfield to a blog about DC. So, I'll lay it all out for ya:

Two days ago, I began the DC part of this adventure and changed my moniker from Suddenly, Springfield to Reading the District. Before, I thought I was rejected by DCPS--but it turns out that I wasn't rejected 100%, rather (like everything in DC, complications) put off the "preferred list," which meant that I wasn't invited to get the triple-threat panel interview, the phone interview, and the case-study. Which, to be honest, I'm pretty happy about.

That was the blog post before I started this job. Since then, I was interviewed, and dropped off the face of the blogosphere to enjoy the life known as job hunting and "finishing the end of the year." Thus, the posting lackage for a long while. Anyway, I've been hired and have gone to two productive, overwhelming orientations and workshops (they sent me away to Nashville (say what playa???) with my Read 180 team (that's the program I'm working with)). Now I'm onto round three and next week is round four before school (like, gulp, Scoob!) starts the 24th.

Speaking of which, something that caught my eye in my reading on my "first three weeks" as a Read 180 teacher (they have a little booklet for that complete with absolute instruction as to what I should do, etc, which is great, though a little dry and the "get to know each other" games are more boring than a cage match between a potato and a zucchini (which by the way I did not know how to spell.) So, anyway, what caught my eye was setting up expectations. They have room for us to talk about it, but not much in the way of setting up the groundrules day one. Instead, they begin to have on day four, which seems odd to me. Why not begin your class by introducing not only each other but also the rules of engagement, as it were?

The main question I have is: what should my rules and expectations be? According to my Adolescent Growth & Developoment teacher (shudder), I should have no more than five norms/rules. And no more than five consequences to breaking those norms/expectations/rules. Now, my question is: what the hell're my norms going to be? Shall I break the mold and dispense with the "thou shalt always raise your hand" norm? Go hippy-dippy and talk about RESPECT and what that means to us? I was thinking of adopting the ol' character targets: RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, COURAGE, QUALITY and COMPASSION. Those can be spinned pretty well; but how, in God's great earth, can you make norms out of those?

These are my questions world--any answers or alternatives?


Michael said...

I don't think there is a magic number for the number of rules/norms and consequences for said rules/norms. I think you can also go with the five characteristics if you make it clear and the students know and understand what you mean by them. You have to get to know your students before determining if those are appropriate for the classroom. Also I think the same goes for consequences. I gotta get to work so I will cut my comment short but if I remember I will get back on and finish later!


Adam S. said...

One thing I noticed in Alison's teaching that I think is worth emulting. Most teachers give rules in the form "you will not do X." Often, the teacher will pull rank and violate the rule herself. Alison's rules were always of the form "We will X," where she considered it her job to role-model the rule and apologize when she broke it. I think that's the difference between the "I said so" rules that teenagers hate and actually showing them that certain habits will actually make them learn more and enjoy more.