Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mr. Smith's Topics

I was going through a bag of mine recently and found a neatly folded square of paper at the bottom of a hidden compartment. I unfolded it and, to my surprise, discovered a small bullet list of ideas called "Mr. Smith's Topics".

I distinctly remember writing this on a scrap a paper while still in boot camp. Scared out of my mind, tired, and apparently missing my old life as a teacher, I listed a number of topics to talk to my future students, proof that I had planned to return to teaching, it seems. These ideas were ten minute discussions that could be done at a set time each day, kind of like Drop Everything And Read time slot. These kind of social lessons would never be on any test but would be invaluable life lessons.

I did something similar but more informal and unstructured when I taught fourth grade. The kids really seemed to like it; I suppose I was reminiscing and wanted to perfect that teaching moment. I suppose I was thinking of these topics after listening to my shipmates bark insults at each other throughout the night. I suppose I thought I could see my former students in some of them. "Maybe if I had taught them this, they would be better off".

So, here's what was on my mind at the time:

- politeness, manners, being respectful
- school habits
- classroom job assignments
- the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance
- how to apologize
- personal space, property
- dealing with stress, anger
- equal opportunity, anti-discrimination
- how to be a friend
- healthy habits, diet, exercise
- avoid wasting food
- FB, texting, privacy, online bullying
- goal setting (short and long term)
- attention to details, listening, preventing someone from repeating themselves
- middle and high school - what to expect
- college and beyond
- working a job
- video games, TV, movie choices
- reading for pleasure - benefits
- foreign countries, languages
- reading buddies, volunteerism, altruism
- teamwork

On the back of the sheet reads: "Changes to the classroom". this must have been things that I wanted to do better coming off the end of last teaching year.

- 1st month school rules and regulations "Mr. Smith's boot camp"
- maintain voice level discipline
- organize community project
- outline better expectations for the reading buddies project
- better accountability for Accelerated Reader
- Letters for the Troops
- Penpal program
- slower breakdown of math explanations
- Khan Academy
- better expectations for homework
- library book checkout list
- lose chair privileges
- ask for more classroom supplies
- parent communication clarification
- water bottles at desks for better hydration
- teach port side, starboard side

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