Three weeks in to Summer Break and I know a few people are still in session. Wow. This summer is one of transition for our family, our daughter will be heading off to college this fall, there are a few weeks this summer she is out of town for work. There are days I wonder what my new identity will include in this transition.
I have been teaching summer school these past three weeks and its filled part of the void. It has also made me consider how to reach kids who may otherwise fall through the cracks during the school year. I have wondered how often I’ve missed identifying a student who needed screening for services. I have realized I am not trained for certain learning challenges some students face and that is when I need to ask for support myself of those in special education field – for suggestions, strategies I have not tried. There is nothing more frustrating than to see a student giving their best effort and still unable to grasp/hold on to certain concepts. I see it as an opportunity to dig in a little deeper and find other ways.
The remainder of my summer will be filled with reorganizing some spaces at home, visits with friends and family, morning coffee, afternoon reading in the sun and most importantly valuable family time. But it will also include a time of reflection, digging deeper from evaluations of this past year, searching and planning for ways to grow, improve. I hold close the idea shared by Steve Leinwand, the 10% rule. “Whether its 6 minutes of a class period, 18 days in the school year, an entire unit of study or one lesson within a unit…” focusing on improving 10% is very reasonable. One year, my goal was class closure. I began setting silent alarms on my FitBit 6 minutes prior to end of class and planned reflections for students to wrap up their thinking. It was easy, cost efficient, but took intentional action – now this is a consistent thing for me.
Someone asked me once why I choose to read so much during Summer Break. Well, once the school year starts, my feet hit the ground, I really don’t have the time to then. I ponder responses from students on my evaluations, reflect on my previous year’s PGP and choose some areas I would like to focus. My room is filled with somebody’s kids and I want to be the best for them as I’d want for my own child.
My Summer Goals…
With a spring semester of lasts with my senior, I let my health slip to the side. I want to make it a priority once again. Small steps each week to work my way back to a consistent and better routine.
#2022myreads goal has been to go through the alphabet by authors’ last names. I have a J book on hold in Libby app; I have checked out books for Z and X. I just need some suggestions for a book by an author whose last name begins with Y! So far, I have completed 40 books this year and with any luck and your suggestions, I’ll have completed my Authors’ Alphabet by summer’s end!
Things with good feedback from students that I want to continue: VNPS, VRG and Spiral Reviews. Improvements I would like to make are to build sets for VNPS using ideas from variation theory / thin slicing and suggestions from Mr. Barton’s book, Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain.
My biggest focus this school year with Building Thinking Classrooms will be the notes and consolidation. I’ve pondered the idea of leveling to the bottom this past year and feel that I have a good grasp of what it might look like now. A recent chat in #eduread of Michael Pershan’s Teaching Math with Examples has helped me sort through some of this.
I want to realign my plans for Spiral Reviews to include BIG ideas from 8th grade curriculum for the first quarter, but then utilize Spiral Reviews to build upon the ideas of retrieval practice, interleaving and spacing as discussed from Powerful Teaching, Agarwal and Bain from a few summers ago. And many students loved our use of “flip chart cards” which included examples, notes, vocabulary highlighted in spiral reviews – they could quickly review and reference. I would like to find a way to improve and implement this tool as a means of international and regular review and reflection that would truly impact student learning. Memory is the residue of thinking. (Willingham?)
Through some of the reading and research, I know I can dig deeper in to worked examples, variation theory, the Same Surface Different Deep from Mr. Barton which can maybe lead to differentiation for learners.
I am over the top excited as a colleague and I get to begin courses for our school’s Teaching and Learning Pathway. Essentially we will offer two courses, The Learning Community and The Learner Centered Classroom – which will introduce students interested in education to many facets of the pathway, visit different grade levels and learn about some of the behind the scenes work educators do. Their third course, The Teaching Profession will give them an opportunity to earn dual-credit as an intro to education class with a nearby college. As a possible fourth course, students will be assigned a placement to observe, collaborate and work within a classroom setting in our district. This is such a great opportunity for them to dip their toes in the water and see if education is truly a pathway they might like to pursue! Obviously there will be many hours invested in this new journey!
As our district is in its 3rd year with Bounce Coalition and learning more about ACES – Adverse Childhood Effects – I want to explore an idea shared in a session, the blue dot. Whether I do this on my own or with my grade level team, we would look at our rosters, a blue dot is assigned to names of students involved in sports, clubs, extracurriculars, community groups, has a connection with an adult within our building, etc. The way I interpreted this idea – students who are without blue dots become a focus. Can we make a connection with them? Help them find an avenue of interest to become involved in the school opportunities or within the community. This idea has stuck with me ever since I heard about it.
Technology – I keep saying I’m going to learn a little Python; I’m interested in gathering information on becoming either a Google Certified Trainer or Innovator; But my biggest tech goal is to learn more about Computation Layer so I can build better Desmos AB tasks for my students and their learning. I’ve said it for years, but this is the summer I will do more with CL.
Some of these are goals I’d like to reach by end of summer. However, I am a realist and know many will continue throughout next school year. I look forward to next summer’s reflection to see how far I have come. What are some of your goals this summer?