finding ways to use cooking, crafts, and hospitality to be a blessing for others

Saturday, September 11

My Classroom

Back to School Series: Day 5
My Classroom

I am a math teacher and really enjoy teaching math! I really really really like it! As a kid, I thought being a teacher would be fun; and, in particular I liked my math teachers. But, I grew up, earned a degree in business finance and started working in trade control. Then, I got married, moved to a new city with my husband and was without a job. Our new city was without trading so started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life. Becoming a math teacher ranked high on the list.

Now, its a few years later, and here I am a 2nd-year math teacher. Quite the blessing! I teach middle school and I must say the students are the easiest and best part of the job. They are funny and sweet and remind me how awesome God is. The energy it takes to be a teacher has given me a new appreciation for God and how he forgives me and teaches me and is patient with me. I say that all because it is hard to be a teacher who is consistently patient, upbeat, modeling good behaviors, and teaching hard concepts. Not to mention working in a Christian school and the added aspect of being a mentor and counselor for the students.

... anyhow, being a teacher literally teaches me something new everyday. I am not sure that there is a better job, or a harder job (other than being a parent).

Anyhow, as a teacher, I get the joy and headache of decorating a classroom each fall. I love doing it, but it is quite the labor of love.

This blog post is about hospitality in the sense that I tried to make every aspect of this room welcoming, interesting and helpful for the students. You may like scanning through these pictures, but the captions are little details about how I organize the room (I am type A)---things that perhaps only another teacher would find interesting, or maybe even helpful.

The theme of my classroom this year is colorful... mostly because I wanted a pink and purple classroom this year but I did not want the male students to have to endure that torture, so I did a rainbow theme.

Entrance to Classroom
I made the paper link and welcome banner
I used this paper cutter for the banner
I teach middle school math at a private school (hence the stain glass reflection on the door)

view as you enter the classroom
I made a paper chain to hang across the front and back walls in the room
I was inspired to make a paper chain for the room because of fun ideas I have for parties

view from my desk towards the back of the classroom

top shelf: extra sharpies and colored pencils
2nd shelf: prayer center and snap cups
3rd shelf: extra books and art boxes
bottom shelf: small dry erase practice boards and more extra books

A note on the dry erase boards: I have a class set of dry erase boards cut from a large shower board from the hardware store. I also supply students with dry erase markers and inexpensive wash cloths for erasers. We use these practice boards intermittently for formative assessments. I also have a class set of white card stock that I laminated. This is super inexpensive and an alternative to the larger board. I use it just to mix it up with the kids.

Snap Cups
Throughout the week students can anonymously write encouraging notes to other students that I read aloud on Fridays. The students LOVE this! And, yes this idea is from Legally Blonde... which I adore

Art Supplies
To streamline the process of handing out supplies I put together these little boxes full of art supplies that we occasionally use in class. The students share a box with their neighbor. It makes distribution and clean-up so simple. The boxes have markers, colored pencils, scissors, sharpies and glue.

Book Cart

Back Wall
This table is where I file handouts and post school news and math concept posters.

I made the tablecloths to match the window valences.
tutorial coming soon

Handouts File
I teach Pre-AP Math 7, Algebra 1 and Pre-AP Algebra 1. In order to streamline my handouts filing system and make it easily accessible for students who lose a worksheet or were absent from class I created these files. I labeled folders within each bin #1-31. Any handouts given today, September 10th are filed behind the 10 in the corresponding class bin. This system works really well for me.

Pink Slips
Pink slips are our school's answer to late work. Each day students turn in their homework. If they did not complete the assignment (I only accept completed work) or forgot to do it, they fill out and turn in a pink slip. The slip has a place for the student to put their name, class period, assignment name and reason for not doing the work. Then on the bottom it has a place for me to keep up with how late the work is. First day we take off points, Second day we contact parents and assign a detention where they have to complete the work and it is graded (in this case, even if it is not finished). The pink slip policy works well but is a lot more work than having a policy allowing no late work...

Tutoring Station
Currently I am putting together a bin of worksheets that assess for/assist with basic math skill reviews. I will also have note handouts on older concepts they may want to review. I think it will be helpful to have on hand and give to students as needed. But I also want it in a location they can check independently, if they desire.

The dry erase board says "Leap" on it. That is one of the programs that our school offers to further assist students. During the last period of the day I meet with a small group of students to go over assignments they were given that day in other teacher's classrooms. I assist with homework and reinforcing study skills. So, the bin of worksheets I put together will also have some study skills handouts and tips available too :)

The Sign-In Desk
When the bell rings for class to start I shut the door. If a student comes in after the door is shut, they know they are late. Tardy students sign-in at this desk. I have bell schedule and clock so they can take accountability for their tardiness.

Also at this station are clipboards with behavior reports. If a student is being a series disruption to the class I just tell them to "grab a board". Students know that means to grab a clipboard from the red basket and fill it out in the hallway. The form on the board asks them to explain and account for there poor behavior. It makes a nice for a good record of events for parent conferences. I rarely use this procedure. In fact, it is one of the last steps before a student is referred to the principal. It has worked to be an effective deterrent for students.

Stellar Work Station
I have not posted anything on the board yet, but it is a place where I post work from students who did awesome on an assignment or turned in something done exceptionally well. Around the perimeter of the board are stars made by each of the students with their name and math goal for the year.

Some of the qualities of stellar math work

Graded Papers Bin
Similar to the handouts bin, I file student papers by last name in these bins. Students are free to check their file at any time to grab papers and put into their class binders. I prefer this system to passing out graded papers, but it does take some time to file the papers.

Turn In File
Students turn in their papers to this bin.
You would think it is self explanatory... Except, I have used this process and location since Day 1 in class, but some students still ask where to turn in their paper...

I am still working on filing out the bottom 2 shelves.
I am going through old math reference books to put them on those shelves to use as a resource for myself and the students.

I challenge you to count all the apples in this room...

This is a framed Mary Engelbreit card. And, no it is not meant to be sarcastic or rude!
You can not tell from this picture, but the little pieces of paper popping out the tray the girl is holding have names of different professions and jobs that one can be. It is meant to illustrate my end goal for the students... and, it is sort of funny.

I taught math and science last year and one of my students decorated this with math and science tools and acronyms. It is pretty cool.

I made this paper weight
One can not have enough paper weights, pens, pencils, post-its or paper clips when a teacher

I decorated these pens
they are wrapped in floral tape with attached silk flowers
tutorial coming soon

My Desk
The poster is one like my high school math teacher had posted and I remember it being inspiring. Students comment on it all the time.

I have teach one web design class that meets in another room, so the green bin is my teaching station on-the-go for that class

I like Mary Engelbreit artwork

...More Apples...

I use 2 filing cabinets.
I have a drawer for each subject, and drawers for for enrichment resources, templates, records, and supplies

Window Valences I made
tutorial coming soon

another bookshelf
This bookshelf is for things I need easy access to. Such as lesson planning binders, scope and sequence binders, faculty and student handbook binders, stacks of papers to grade...

more Mary Engelbriet art

A little name banner that I made
I used this cutter

This is my "to do" station
First, I love sweat-less water glasses. And I really love the iphone. It is melodramatic to say, but it has 'changed my life'... haha. But really, I have always been a cheap phone sort of girl, but when I ran into a deal to get one for cheap I jumped on it, and oh--how I recommend this phone for you (but that is another story!)

In the "to do" station: the sections I have in the file are:

: things I need to prep in the morning for the day's lesson or for later in the week

To Do: e-mails to make or random things to get done that day or week

Copy/Hole Punch: things to copy when I get the chance

Resources: handouts I am given and need easy access to for the day or week

Sub Plans: emergency lesson plans in case I get sick-- great to put in an easy place for a substitute teacher to spot

Emergency Plans
: for fire drills and emergencies

On the upper right hand of the screen I printed a mini bell schedule

Overhead Calculator
Yes, I am a bit of a geek. When I was in middle school, my math teacher used a calculator like this one in class. And, I thought it was pretty cool. Not, cool like COOL, but math teacher cool. Anyhow, one day in class last year I was telling that story and one of my male students took it to heart and bought me this calculator for my birthday. Such a sweet gift. In fact, sometime I should post just on the sweet things my students do :)

Candy Bucket on the bottom... oh yeah!

Proper Heading Poster
I am an enforcer of the properly formatted homework assignment :)

Assignments Board and Teaching Station
I post the week's lesson objectives, topics and homework assignments on this board each Monday

Teaching Station

Teaching Station Supplies
dry erase markers, board magnets, paper clips, grading chart...
I also keep a bin at the front of the room for handouts I am using in class that week

Here is where I file handouts that I have copied and will handout to students that week. I also store warm-up activities, grading keys, and riddles in this bin for me to grab at a moment's notice. In the apple bag I keep a supply of red pens and pencils that I sale to the students. Last year I gave them out for free and student's became less responsible, so this year I required them to have pencil bags in their binders and I sell (instead of give away) supplies. I joke with them that I am saving to buy a beach house... and then I turn it into a math problem for them to figure out how many things I would need to sale to buy a beach house... they get a laugh out of it.

bulletin board

bulletin board

Well, that's all folks! Have a great weekend!!!