The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Making Changes, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about how I was planning on making some changes in my classroom. Today I wanted to give a quick follow-up on how those changes were received.

In addition to changing the book I had selected for our final read aloud, I decided to make some changes to the daily schedule, based largely on some very productive conversations that went on during a PBIS team meeting yesterday evening.

For most of the year, my class has had an afternoon recess at the very end of the day. This has been done partly as an incentive for students to work hard throughout the afternoon and then also an incentive to help them quickly get through their work routines. Unfortunately, there have always been slight issues with this schedule. For one, several students leave the room before the end of the day for reasons like Safety Patrol duty, FitKids (a local program run by the University of Illinois and directed by a good friend of mine, incidentally), and checking in with younger students they’ve been asked to assist or with mentors and other teachers. For another, the end of the day has always been hectic, with students trying to get their belongings and get to buses, rides, the After School Child Care Program, etc.

So with just two and a half weeks of school left, I figured, what the heck, let’s try something new that I’ll probably be doing more consistently next year anyway. Instead of having our afternoon recess at the end of the day as an incentive, we are going to have our afternoon recess after math and before fine arts as a break. At the end of the day, students will pack up and then have the last fifteen minutes or so of the day to work independently on silent reading, writing, or have extra help on math or other academic areas.

I told my class about this, and they all seemed very supportive of the idea, especially those who have missed most or all of recess as a result of the above mentioned reasons. Of course, today was also the day that I had a meeting at 1:15, so I had a sub come in at that time, and there was no time for her to go over what I had asked her to teach if she was going to be taking them outside for recess fifteen minutes after she arrived. So today didn’t actually work out as planned, but hey, that’s life, right? If we don’t get to the new schedule changes this week, we’ll definitely be able to start next Monday!

Oh, and everyone seemed happy that I decided to put aside Abe Lincoln Grows Up and read a new book (It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville–the Newberry Award winner from 1964). We talked a bit this morning about how we sometimes just don’t “feel” a book at the time we start to read it, and how that is okay because we may “feel” it at another date. So yeah, the changes appear to be ones that will be well-received.


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