Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reflection 2016

Hi, all you lovely but weary educators! The race for this school year is almost over. You are heading to the finish line!
Now is the time to reflect on the previous year with all of its victories and struggles. Ask yourself some questions and jot down your thoughts.
What did you learn about this year that changed your teaching?
What worked?  Why?
What didn’t work? Why?
How can I use this experience to grow myself as a teacher or grow my students next year?
Knowing what I know now, what would I do differently next time?
What do I need to do to prepare myself to start next school year strong?
Find another educator to do this reflection with you. There is something powerful when you share your best and worst moments! I will meet with my small group next week to reflect and plan. I am stronger with others to surround me on the journey.
Have a restful summer surrounded by friends and family! Try something new and refresh your spirit! I am so thankful for all you do for children and for those who serve them!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Online Safety

Our students love to surf the internet at school and at home. We need to teach our students how to collaborate with others and remain safe online. I just finished an online safety course where I learned about Common Sense Media. This is such a great resource for educators and parents. I wanted to share a few of the excellent lessons for elementary students offered on the website. 

Going Places Safely (K-2)
This lesson teaches students to be safe by following rules when online. 
Students will be able to ...

  • discover that the Internet can be used to visit far-away places and learn new things.
  • compare how staying safe online is similar to staying safe in the real world.
  • explain rules for traveling safely on the Internet.

This lesson teaches students how to search for pictures online using the alphabet.
Students will be able to...
  • learn how to search online by using the alphabet.
  • understand how to search for a specified letter of the alphabet on a children’s directory site.
  • apply the results of their alphabet search to create a picture dictionary.

Keep It Private (K-2)
This lesson helps students to decide what information is private and what can be shared online.
Students will be able to ...

  • recognize the kind of information that is private.
  • understand that they should never give out private information on the Internet.
  • learn to create effective usernames that protect their private information.

One of my favorite parts of each lesson is that you can download a fact sheet to send home to parents. They are available in English and Spanish.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Growing Educators

“One reason, so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

— Anthony Robbins

I spend a great deal of my work week talking about growing readers, writers, and researchers. Today, I want to talk about growing educators. Reflecting on my growth over the last ten years, I see a change in my belief system. The educator that I was and the educator I am now are almost like two different people. Something happened along the way that changed ME.

I realized that the only person who could change in my school culture was me. I had been waiting on others around me to "show me the way"! I began asking questions rather than blaming others. I wanted to know more about what children needed to become successful. I was determined to find answers and grow. I took ownership of my professional development. I realized that professional development should be a career-long endeavor, not just a once-a-year offering by my district.

I guess you could say that I moved from a "fixed mindset" to a "growth mindset." Mindset is a simple idea discovered by Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck. Teacher agency is another term I like!

"Teacher agency is typically viewed as a quality within educators, a matter of personal capacity to act (Priestly et al., 2012) usually in response to stimuli within their pedagogical environment. It describes an educator who has both the ability and opportunity to act upon a set of circumstances that presents itself within that individual’s leadership, curricular or instructional roles. The educator described would then draw from acquired knowledge and experience to intercede appropriately and effectively. Agency is increasingly rare in the educational world of prescriptive improvement, and the term is too “often utilized as a slogan to support school-based reform” (Priestley, Biesta & Robinson, 2012, p. 3). " Teacher Agency in America and Finland By Roger Wilson, GVSU Faculty

Notice it states that it is a rare quality. I know for a fact that it is very rare. So many educators are waiting for someone else to get busy fixing, finding, doing or creating things that will change school culture and student learning. While we are all waiting for someone else, nothing changes,

I became tired of waiting and developed a sense of urgency that is with me to this day. We have so little time to grow our learners! We must make each day count. I can't say that my change made everyone happy or that I was appreciated. It took courage and perseverance. It still takes courage today to step out and say what needs to be said. I spend a lot of time thinking about children and not about adults. What is best for children in the classroom?  How can I keep them engaged throughout the day? What will inspire them to be lifelong learners? The questions never stop!

The more time I devote to professional development and learning; the more passionate I become! It is a worthwhile and exciting journey. I want to leave a legacy of promoting change in education that greatly impacts children. I encourage you to journey with me! Together, we can make a difference.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Inquiry Based Learning

"We have a classroom system, where we could have a community system."

Do we run our schools as a factory system focused on control and order? 

It is time we shift our thinking and practice! 
It starts with teachers.

Where can teachers find information about inquiry?
I have read Harvey and Daniels revised book, Comprehension and Collaboration. It is a great "how to" book, and a great place to start.

Another approach is Genius Hour. A great way to find out more about implementing Genius Hour is to look on Twitter #geniushour! I have found many resources this way.