Sunday, August 23, 2009

What do teachers do when the students aren't there???

Some of you will laugh at that question b/c you are educators and know exactly what teachers do when students aren't there...others of you will be reading with anticipation of some really juicy stories.

Sorry if I disappoint you, but teachers mostly work when there are no students in the building. We put up bulletin boards, make copies, plan lessons and homework, arrange furniture, clean, meet about new curriculum, meet and welcome new co-workers, decorate our rooms, make name plates for student's desks...mostly mundane and uninteresting types of things. It is true that we play our music much louder (without worrying if it is appropriate for our students), we eat lunch in our rooms or maybe even out of the building instead of in the faculty room at our assigned times, we laugh and joke a lot, even play a few pranks sometimes...but mostly, we work really really hard to prepare for our students' return.

But wait, you might be thinking that I'm not a teacher, I'm a counselor...surely I don't have to do most of those things. And you are right. I don't have a classroom to arrange or 20-some students to prepare for...so why do they send me back a week before the teachers???

I remember wondering the same thing last year when I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Granted, I did have to set up my office for the first time, but still, I wasn't sure what to do with all of my time.

This year, that has not been an issue. Now that I have been on Lakeview's faculty for a year, I have more than enough to do. I plan lessons in two different curriculum (character education and violence prevention/anti-bullying) for 7 different grade levels (K-6) including planning the dates for the lessons in conjunction with other school wide activities, I work out schedules with 22 different teachers to actually teach the lessons, plan the morning announcements for all 180 days of school, and plan for and help lead our first faculty meeting of the year.

Perhaps the most exciting project I worked on this summer for the new school year is our new school wide behavior management plan. We have adopted a plan being used in other Title 1 (low income neighborhoods) schools across the nation that allow for continuity across grade levels and flexibility in dealing with individual student needs instead of a one-size-fits-all plan. I am super excited about this b/c our school needs this! This new program will help students think about their behavior and what other choices they have when faced with social dilemmas (which is most of what gets kids in trouble)...plus it will give adults the opportunity to give meaningful consequences to negative choices. AND it is the same basic program K-6th grades, so all students will know and understand what they should expect when they choose not to follow our code of conduct, not to mention that all of the adultsin the school will be able to step in when those choices are made and not just the classroom teacher (IF he or she happens to be there, which is unlikely since most stuff happens at lunch and recess). This project required hours and hours of preparation for me to be able to present it to the faculty in "ready to use" form. So tomorrow is the first day of school and we will have to give it all a little time to see how it goes, but I have high hopes that it will help decrease office referrals for our students. :) The less time they spend in the office, in time out, in In School Suspension or at home on Suspension...the more time they spend in the classroom learning what they need to be successful members of society!

I did spend a lot of time last week on some AWESOME bulliten boards which I will try to get pics of so you can see and have a better understanding of my programs. And I hope to have some really fun back-to-school stories...about teachers and students...we really do have great jobs...but I have the best of them all!

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