The first few days are going to be a little different than our typical daily schedule. We also adjust our schedule to meet 2 hour delays, or special events that might occur throughout the school year. This is how our team of 4 can manage a class of 32 students with varying needs.
We begin school at 8:00, but students are welcome to come at 7:45 or earlier if their parent works at the school. They enter the building, find the classroom area, locate their hook, take their shoes off, hang their bags up and then are prepared to walk into the classroom. They have the option to going to the kitchen and getting a school prepared nutritious breakfast.
From 8:00am til 10:30am gives us equal time to have small group lessons throughout the morning. This is seven half an hour lesson periods to divide the students up. While I teach Language Arts in one corner of the room, the Math teacher teaches another lesson on the other side of the room, and a Geography teacher in our adjacent classroom. The students come to their lessons as directed and the lessons are different in each nature, based on the student and students of the group. Most of these lesson times are reserved for either a new individual lesson with a student (either presenting new material or a concept), or independent work time (when students are practicing skills they have been given a lesson on to master).
When students are not in an a structured lesson period, they are free and roaming the classroom as seen in many Montessori classrooms. This gives them the opportunity to choose work on the shelves, paint in the Art Lab, work on things that are unfinished, stay extra in an assigned lesson if they need more time or assistance, read books around the classroom, eat snack or breakfast, sketch in their sketch book, and the options go on! We have one designated "floating teacher," in the classroom who helps assist these students to find something productive to do, and get to their scheduled lessons at the right time.
After our morning work period, it is time for us to all come together. We participate briefly in a "Mad Minutes," or 3-minute timed math facts test. Each student is on their own level. After this event, we come together for a Community Meeting. Here, a classroom leader calls students to be appropriate in the meeting, asks if any would like to acknowledge others, asks if there are any concerns for the whole group and helps the students solve these problems. Following, we have another student read "grace," and then the students are dismissed to get their lunch tables ready for lunch. After lunch, we have recess, and then guided reading groups or sustained silent reading.
Our afternoons are a time for longer lessons with slightly bigger groups. Here, we present our science lessons to groups based on years they are in the classroom (year 1, 2, 3). Intervention time also occurs in the afternoon for students who need extra support in the classroom learning foundational concepts. In the adjacent classroom, the teacher presents lessons on sewing work. These groups are less about an individual focus and more on working in small groups. These lessons occur for forty minutes, until 2:30pm when we come together for music class. After music, it is dismissal time.
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