Back to School Adventures

Goodness, it’s been a long time! I haven’t really been working that much on education stuff for the past year, mostly because I didn’t have to take almost any education classes. But I have my Bachelor’s in English now! And somehow graduated Summa Cum Laude. Good to know that hard work paid off in the form of getting into UMD’s grad school to get my M. Ed.

Now that I’ve updated ya’ll on my professional progress over the last year, it’s time to address the present. It’s been a rather rocky road as I start my year long internship in a local high school. I was told I would be working with one mentor teacher who teaches on-level and honors 9th graders back in May, so I prepared over the summer by looking over the curriculum and reading the books on the 9th grade list. As teacher prep week approached, I hadn’t got any word back on when I should report. So I went in on Tuesday at 7am hoping I would find out what the plan was. Then I was told I would actually have to work with a different mentor teacher, who teaches 10th on-level and 11th honors, meaning I would have to prepare for two totally different curricula in a short space. I had met my new mentor teacher for a 10-second long introduction when she left for lunch, leaving me confused and unsure of what I should be doing. Only later did I find out that I was switched to the new mentor without communicating with the coordinator of the grad school. Had and anxiety attack on Thursday morning, but went in on Friday for a pretty smooth day. I’m all caught up on the plan for the next few weeks and my mentor and I seem to be getting along just fine. Not exactly the way I imagined my first week, but it seems to be settling down. Students come in on Monday, and I’m excited to meet them.

Speaking of students, I’ve adopted a cute little icebreaker for my classes. It’s a version of Tangled Web, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a really fun way to get students to know each other while raising the energy of a class.

  1. Make a yarn ball for each class. It’s a good idea to use a whole skein for a 25-ish student class. I like making my yarn balls center pull, like the ones here. You can use a toilet/paper towel roll like in the link or a dowel rod/stick. I usually use this really awesome driftwood staff to wrap the yarn around.
  2. (Optional) Write a list of things you want the students to say when they introduce themselves. Names should always be included but beyond that it depends on the subject you’re teaching and the class. If you’re teaching a mixed-grade group, you might want the students to specify the grade or year they’re in. Then have them say some things about themselves. Some examples:
    • Favorite hobby
    • One goal you have for the year
    • A song you’re really diggin’ right now
    • Number of siblings
    • Favorite animal
  3. Explain the steps of this exercise to students before they begin. It’ll help things run A LOT more smoothly.
  4. Grab the loose end of the yarn and hold onto it while you answer the questions yourself. When a student find something in common with you (let’s say you have 3 siblings and they also have 3 siblings), they will shout “CONNECT.”
  5. Then, while holding onto the string of yarn, throw the ball to that student who shouted “CONNECT” first. They will grab the string of yarn so that it doesn’t have that much slack, introduce themselves and pass the ball to the next person that says connect while holding onto the string of yarn. (This process will eventually yield a web of string symbolizing the way the class is connected and that we have to work as a team or else the web breaks. Cute, right?)
  6. When you’ve gotten to the last person, you have two options. You can either
    • Let them all let go and collect the mess of yarn, or
    • Have students walk the ball of yarn and gather the yarn in the reverse order that they introduced themselves. That is, the last person to introduce themselves would walk to the second to last person (the one they shared a connection with) and so on.) This way you can deal with a slightly neater tangle of yarn to rewind.

And that’s pretty much all I have this week. Expect more updates throughout the coming months. I will be learning a lot and want to share my progress with you! I’ll probably also need some help, so please feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

Ciao for now!



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