Welcome to 6th grade! I hope that this year is both a fun and educational one for you, full of bright thoughts and new success! If you ever have a question concerning any of your classes, please feel free to come to me. No question, when it comes to knowledge, is ever too ridiculous.
First, let's go over what it takes to be a good student:
1. COME TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY. Even when you are ill, these are good times to stay in bed and catch up with any work that you might be behind on, including reading.
2. HAVE YOUR SUPPLIES READY. Though each class will need different supplies, this will usually include a notebook, your laptop, and a writing utensil (preferably a pen).
3. KEEP YOUR MATERIALS ORGANIZED. I know that this has been a problem for you in the past, but I will make sure to go over different organizational skills, as well as provide you with "trinkets" that will make staying organized easy.
4. PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS. I cannot stress this one enough; you will never know when something important might come up, so always make sure to be attentive. If you need something repeated because you believe that you might have misheard, simply raise your hand and ask for the statement to be repeated.
5. COMPLETE ASSIGNMENTS ON TIME. Frankly, I am not a very patient teacher; I will not wait a couple of days for an assignment to be turned in that I gave you one day to do. Of course, if an emergency should arise (or I feel that you need more time to fully comprehend what is being discussed), then this will change. Late assignments will reflect on your different grades, so don't do it!
6. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. This is another standard that I cannot stress enough. I will always repeat the directions for you until we both make sure that you understand them, that is not a problem. However, if you have told me that you understand the directions, then I expect you to follow them. Why repeat an assignment when you don't have to?
7. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT. Though I am not a patient teacher, I am an understanding one. I will give you back just as much as you give to me. If you do not understand a subject, simply tell me that you don't understand. It would be best to be as clear as possible about something that you don't understand, but sometimes that's not possible. Each subject has a schedule that can be "fixed" to go over each topic as much as necessary.
8. PARTICIPATE IN CLASS ACTIVITIES. I expect participation in all of your subjects. Just because I am at the front of the room does not mean that the class is about me. In fact, it has very little to do with me; it's all about you. Participation also helps me to understand what you do and do not understand. Of course, participation is served better with a side of manners.
9. FOLLOW ALL SCHOOL RULES. Many of the school's rules are outlined in these standards on what it takes to be a good student. Some of them are also listed below. Follow these rules; it will make the flow of your school year easier and faster. Keep in mind, though, that rules can be changed or "fixed" as deemed necessary either by you or I.
10. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. This is a simple standard for you to follow, because I do not doubt that you will give me your best. You always have. I do not expect perfection; I would be unnecessary if you already "knew it all". As we go along, though, give me all that you've got!
Now, let's go over the classroom rules:
These rules are as much for me as they are for you. They are here to set the atmosphere for the classroom, for the learning environment every single day.
1. RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN! What?! you are thinking in your head. What is the point, then, of discussing them at all? you are also wondering. Well, let me clarify. "Really good education is all about risk-taking and about making a mess; learning is chaotic, right?" What this means is that I am willing to teach you in whatever way you learn best. If that means that you need to go outside to clear your mind, we'll take our laptops outside and stretch our bones and continue on with what we are doing. It also means that I don't expect you to do everything right the first time, you can "make a mess". If it takes you five pieces of paper to learn one math problem but, in the end, you know exactly how to do it, then that was the point of teaching you that math problem in the first place.
2. ALL FOR ONE, AND ONE FOR ALL. "On the first day of school I always tell my students that our classroom is their second home and that our class is an extension of their family. I believe this is just as important as creating an exceptional curriculum." Since you are being home schooled, most of this quote goes without saying. Basically, I expect you to be here with me just as much as I am here for you.
3. BRING YOUR PASSIONS INTO THE CLASSROOM. "As a professional spoken-word poet, I try to embody how learning to read and write well serves as a purpose beyond the academic. These are critical skills that have the power to open up new worlds of opportunities. My poetry provides an entry point for my students to engage in literature, and empowers them to delve into text when they may have otherwise been hesitant to do so." So many subjects are related to each other, that you'd be surprised. When you're learning about science you're also learning about math, and don't get me started on reading, which is involved in all of your subjects! If you prefer one subject over another, think of it along those terms. If, for example, I am teaching you a science principle that seems particularly boring, then just think of it in mathematical terms. If music helps you to study, another GREAT example, then quietly turn it on.
4. NEVER TEACH TO THE TEST. "Exceptional test scores, brilliant job applicants, and competitive colleges should simply be by-products of a great education, not the sole purpose of it." You've dealth with SOLs and they weren't too fun, were they? While much of the material on these kinds of tests is important to know, I want you to be educated, not test-ificated. This means that you will learn all of the information that would be on this kind of test but not because you will be taking a test. You will know this information as it pertains to your current (or future) life. Sure, you will take tests--no way around that really--but that's more of a check for me, making sure that we are understanding each other. I am not going to cram your head with information, say "Here you go, remember this for the upcoming test". Rather, I will be telling you how this is important to you and say "Learn this because you may need it for this".
5. KEEP IT REAL. "If you're willing to take a little bit of a risk with some of your curriculum and experiment with more hands-on experiences with the kids, you can develop programs that are so much better adapted to the needs of the particular students you're teaching, offering them real ways to apply their learning instead of just passively receiving information." Rule 5 goes hand-in-hand with Rule 4. You are learning for your life, not learning for a standardized test. I will try to keep your lessons as experimental as possible. For example, we may take a money problem and go to a store to apply that problem. I want you to see and experience how your education applies to real-world situations that you may be in, not just read a book or fill out a worksheet to pass time.
6. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN UN-TEACHABLE CHILD. "My students are kids just like any other kids. Of course they can learn. Of course they can love school. Of course they can build good relationships. Of course they have a voice. They just need to learn how to use it." This is sort of similar to what I wrote earlier: Never be afraid to ask me any question. But, let's take that last part of this quote for a second: Of course they have a voice. They just need to learn how to use it. One thing you can be sure that I will teach you is how to use your voice. In a respectful manner, but you will learn how to voice your opinions and you will know that what you think matters. I've been teaching you that all along, anyways.
7. NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTION. "So here I was, a first-year teacher, with 250 students and a hundred-dollar budget. My solution was bucket drumming. I had the idea to go to Home Depot and buy a bunch of five-gallon paint buckets to use as drums. The kids loved it... This is my fourth year now, and it's really taken off. The program has created almost a mini-culture of young drummers roaming around Philadelphia's public schools." What works is what we will do, preferably within a budget. If I need to change the structure or curriculum of a classroom to get the idea across to you, then the need has a right to be filled. Rules for learning are meant to be bent. You have a necessity to learn in an environment where you can let your mind open up.