I have many hopes for this year. This summer I’ve had some mixed feelings – its year 22, which means, I am likely in my last 6-10 years of my teaching career. Which means, I don’t have that many more “tries” at getting it right. Wow. That makes me a little sad.
But having that realization – I savor moments when I get to talk with former students. I realize what a privilege I’ve had and I am grateful.
Open house last week was exactly what I needed – to get pumped about having students back with me again. So many possibilities!
Class / Lesson Closures #1TMCthing as @druinok puts it “Never Skip the Close”
I have focused on questioning for the past several years and intentional effort to utilize reflection / literacy strategies but I feel that I need to mesh those big ideas with closure. Helping students reflect and wrap it all together, walk away with a concrete something to hold on and refer back to. I know how to do it, but I fail to wrap up a lesson nicely. That is my number one focus this year. Class wrap up and lesson closures. Listening to Tracy Zager at #TMC16 and the time with David Wees & team in the Contemplate and Calculate morning sessions helped me realized my need but also made it feel doable with some purposeful planning.
My initial plan is to practice #CthenC from week 1 and embed that routine weekly to really help students become comfortable with it early in the year. I’ve mentioned this before, but the meta reflection component will allow students to process their thinking, talk and share. But my role will be to scribe some of their thoughts, but most importantly – to make those connections back to the students’ initial noticings.
I believe that may have been my BIG A-HA moment at TMC16. I had always struggled finding a good way to make connections for students when implementing Smith & Stein’s Five Practices – but #CthenC provided a structure I feel comfortable with – one I see as attainable – able to successfully guide students in those connections.
On days we are not utilizing #CthenC, I plan to have an alarm set on my fitbit 6 minutes prior to end of each class bell. This will give me 1 minute to wrap up, refocus students; 4 minutes to reflection/exit slip and 1 minute to allow students to pack up, ready to leave.
Laugh and Enjoy
Why did I go into education? Because I want students to enjoy seeing patterns, finding structure and using those ideas to make predictions, and do more complex math. I want them to not dread coming to class. I want them to experience success. I want them to see they can do it, believe in themselves and I want to see their smiles when they get it! That’s my joy. They smile when they’ve accomplished something difficult. Last year, I wanted to laugh more and we did, but I plan to continue growing in this area.
Glenn shared his success with daily high fives and Shelli shared how much it impacted the culture in her classroom. I did it a few weeks, but then got busy, started focusing on the things that didn’t matter and let it fall to the wayside.
Again, I begin the year and do well with this. Friday Five – I called / emailed five parents every Friday. I make it about 6 weeks, then I begin to fall off the wagon. Its imperative that I do this. Its key to open and keep the communication lines open with parents / guardians. Sadly, when my energy goes south, I let it go because there’s no accountability. In my opinion, administration could care less. They say they want us to do this, yet there has never been follow-up or a conversation about it unless instigated by me. Even though I am very wrong in letting this go, its easy (wrongfully so) to not follow through. When noone else is in the building past 3:00 on Friday afternoon (okay, Mrs. Stapp is still there too), its hard to make myself stay and get the task completed.
That makes me sound very unprofessional. As a parent, I’m disappointed in myself. But I also know that at some point in the year, I get to a point of self-preservation, I simply cannot do it all. My intent is to set boundaries, weekly goals and stick with them, even if only a brief communication – I need to be accountable to this.
Daily Self-Reflection / Weekly Blog
Thanks to conversations out of Sara VanDerwerf’s flex session at TMC16, I felt a ping of how important this is. Even if only a daily 5-8 minute reflection of how the day went or quick post for #180blog. I want to be accountable to weekly blogging. Its the first thing to go when I start treadding. Yet, its the most powerful tool in helping me grow.