Friday, September 6, 2013

Welcome to the Circus!

Middle school is exactly like a circus. There is no difference. There are funky outfits (think neon spandex and blue hair), daring acrobatics (a.k.a leaping over desks and cartwheeling in the hallway between classes), and clowns (class clowns, that is…) And, if all of that isn’t enough, there are real live animals! This little guy sneaked into my room via lunch box for a visit recently:

Shadow the turtle. 

Seriously though, my seventh graders are crazy nuts! I love them and their nuttiness, but am oh so thankful that it’s Friday because this ringmaster needs a break! 

I stayed after school for a while today in order to rearrange my classroom for next weeks introduction to writer’s workshop. My students have been working on crafting a personal narrative — they have just finished up rough drafts and will be starting peer editing and revising on Wednesday of next week. 

It was a tough call but I went ahead and moved my desks from rows that faced each other to clusters of 4 and 5. I was hesitant because did I mention that my classes are crazy? They love love love to talk and I have one class in particular that is extra nutty — they’re a hot mess, actually. I have about 5 students that all want to be the class clown so they vie for the imaginary Emmy award every day. Redirection usually works but I’m not sure
that putting students in closer proximity to each other is a good thing right now because we are still working on appropriate classroom behavior during instruction time.  It has to be done in order for the workshop to be successful, but I’m afraid that, especially for my crazy class, the new seating arrangement is going to be too much for them to handle. I guess we’ll see how it goes…

Old seating arrangement -- rows 
Old seating arrangement -- rows
New seating arrangement -- clusters

How do you handle group work? What should I do to make sure that this is a good experience for all involved? Any specific rules I should lay out in advance? 

In other news, I’m pretty excited about a few new cutesy things I found at School Tools while visiting my parents over Labor Day weekend: 

Charlie Brown stickers for my
Peanuts obsession


Hope you all have a fabulous weekend away from your own circus!



  1. Oh my goodness, Emily! It has been so long since I have been an active blogger, and just saw that you got THE job - YAYAYA! Congratulations. :) I am so glad it is the perfect job for you, in the perfect school. Is the school in Ky? Also, bless you and your sub adventure. My assistant superintendent offered to pay for a sub for new teachers so we could attend a planning day (during the 2nd week of school). I was not courageous enough to say yes - haha. Go you! :)

    Also, I am so glad you are using desk clusters! They are so much interactive and friendly than rows.

    Happy Friday,
    The Brown-Bag Teacher

    1. Thank you so much, Catherine!! I saw your most recent blog post and I wanted so badly to comment, but my iPhone doesn't play well with Bloglovin... I feel the exact same way you do -- a few weeks ago these kids were just names on a piece of paper and now I call them mine. I love laughing with them and I can already see their progress in the short time I've spent with them. It truly is so rewarding. So glad you're enjoying it also!

      No, I'm actually teaching in WV. I am at the school where I did student teaching which is such.a.blessing.

      Have an awesome week :)


  2. I like your desks! Mine are full on desks but yours look like high school. What happened to the turtle?
    Kristy @ 2 Peas and a Dog Teaching Blog

    1. Thank you! I am loving the clusters so far. The only thing is that they get messed up after every period (but so do rows...). It's a pet peeve but I'll get over it.

      Poor Shadow the turtle was confiscated by administration :(


  3. Hi Emily,
    I was on a bloggervation all summer, and now that I'm back I see that you got the job! Hurray! I'm so happy for you! Although, I do wish you could be MY 7th grade teaching partner at my school:(
    You are going to be fantastic! It takes a very long time before you feel as though you can "tame" the circus animals. I like to celebrate the small successes. But it looks like you are off to a great start! When I put desks in clusters I remind students that it is a privilege to sit like that, and I trust them to be responsible with that privilege.
    I am so happy for you that I am doing my Snoopy happy dance!

    1. Thank you so much, Darlene! I am sooooo loving teaching, but yes, the taming of the animals is hard business.

      Today we discussed how to properly cooperate with groups and being respectful when sitting in clusters. I'm pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other (but hey, it's Monday...)

      Ahhh -- I'm happy dancing too now! Thanks so much for following me and for the encouragement :)