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Shaundalyn Elliott's Diary
The First 180 Days


Shaundalyn Elliott, a recent college graduate, always dreamed of being a corporate lawyer. Her deep feelings of responsibility to the minority students in her hometown led her instead to a teaching position at her alma mater, an urban middle school in Montgomery, Alabama. Each week during this school year -- Shaundalyn's first year in the classroom -- she will share with Education World readers her thoughts and feelings about her first 180 days!

Shaundalyn's Diary: 'Twas the Month Before Christmas ...

Week 15

This week, my students and I began our unit on drama by reading A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. I allowed the students to rearrange themselves and the classroom into the perfect stage for the play and assigned roles in the play to as many students as possible. The process of reading the play aloud took us through the end of the week.

Between lessons, the students and I continue to make plans for our class's upcoming Christmas party. Each student pulled the name of another student that he or she will provide a small gift for, and a local pizza restaurant will donate eight large pizzas.

As the Christmas holidays approach, the students are becoming more and more excited, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold their attention. I find myself continually trying to create innovative strategies that will inspire them and help them focus on the lessons. I understand how they feel, though. I am just as anxious for Christmas to come as they are!

I finally decided that the best way to deal with our Christmas excitement is to bring the holiday into the classroom. When I give a written assignment, I softly play Christmas music as the students work. I also decorated a beautiful tree and hung a cute little Santa on our door. Every day someone drops by to compliment the class on our festive classroom.

Each compliment fills me and my students with pride -- a pride that is obvious in our glances at one another. Every day, particularly during this holiday season, I grow a little bit closer to my students. These days, the warm feelings in our room are generated from more than the heater; they come straight from the heart.

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Shaundalyn Elliot
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