New Blogger Initiative Post #1 (Prompt 5): Take a photograph of something you’re proud of. It could be something from your classroom. Something a student gave to you/wrote for you. A bulletin board. A poster. A jar of candy you keep in your office to share with students. Explain what it means to you…
While the student voted superlative “Most Likely To Save The World” certificate hangs nicely on my bulletin board, there is no question in mind that I am most proud of my entrance table. Yes, my entrance table.
Students pick up all worksheets, homework, and supplies on their way into the classroom so that I do not have to waste any class time distributing items. This procedure is taught on day 1 when students pick up their information cards and syllabus. Some teachers expect that students will begin to work on the homework assignment rather than listen if they have it in front of them, but they don’t. Not in my experience anyways. The occasional student will get right to work on the assignment if they know how to do it, but most of my students barely glance at a sheet until I tell them to look at it.
It takes a good deal of effort and organization on my part, but it is totally worth it. If you have back to back classes that are different subjects, then you will need to switch the materials sometime during the class period, so that everything is set up appropriately for the next class. I usually do this during the first 5 minutes of the period while students are working on the warm up, or half way through class when students are switching to an activity or group work. At the same time, I quickly write an absent student’s name on each sheet and slip the pages into the absent file folder so that I don’t have to worry about that later.
What does the entrance table mean to me? It means that students come in, see that I’m ready for them, and know there is a plan for the day. It means that if someone makes a mistake and needs a new sheet, they can just go get one without interrupting the entire class. It means that an administrator or colleague who enters the room can grab a sheet and immediately know what we’re working on. It means seamless transitions between activities. And most importantly, it means that valuable class time is spent learning and doing math, rather than getting ready to do math.