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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lesson of Our Times: Human Dignity

The focus of our times is human dignity. As we hear of misdemeanor in the news locally and nationally, we think about what it means to treat one another with respect and dignity. Everywhere people young and old are speaking up about this topic, and it makes all of us think about the times we were dignified, respectful, and kind, and times where we may have misstepped in this arena. The focus of these times, human dignity, is a worthy, honorable, and right focus--a focus we all have to take seriously by thinking deeply about how we do our work, live our lives, and treat each other. It is the right direction, human dignity is the focus we should all work for.

These Goals Require All of Me

The goals set by others and those goals that I've set for myself this year require all of me. The goals are deeper and more time consuming than I anticipated, but so is the success we've reached so far. As a team we are making good progress with the students, and the key is to keep checking in with each other, providing support, and urging each other forward.

How do I know that we're making progress? There are many signs including the following:
  • Fewer children are visiting the principal
  • Children are requesting that I stay after school to provide extra help
  • Many children are coming in for extra help in the mornings
  • Scores on assessments are good
  • Children are helping one another
  • Children have lots of ideas about how to improve the learning and teaching, and they are sharing those ideas with care and interest
My goals this year are deep, child/program centered, and targeted, and unlike other years the work required to meet these goals is work close to home and school that includes lots of time-on-task with students and colleagues and less learning outside of school.

I am looking deeply at how we can uplift the engagement, investment, and success of every student in ways that matter. I am looking at how we can create greater growth for girls and boys, students from every culture, advanced and challenged learners, and children with varying learning dispositions. I am looking carefully at how we spend our time in this end, and how we coordinate our services with one another. I enjoy this analysis and the work that goes with it. The greatest challenge, however, is to stay the course, give the deep attention, and adapt as needed. Onward. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Week Ahead: Math, Math, and More Math

It was a tougher than usual day in the classroom. Absent teachers, drizzle, test prep and the lure of the holidays led to the challenge. We're at the final leg of the math unit, and this is the time for finishing up, solidifying tough concepts/skills, and persevering. I know students are capable of learning the material, but some are more up to the push than others, and one can only push so much as you don't want to push students too much.

In the next few days, I'll really support those who are willing and ready to push forward to achieve on the unit test. All will work at their comfort level on completing the material, and if other teachers are available I'll ask them to help those that need it most.

I continue to find myself on the fence when it comes to the standards. To teach the standards well demands lots of time, attention, and a push--there are a lot of standards and to know them well is a stretch for a fair amount of students. Large classes and a diversity of skill level creates a challenging atmosphere with which to reach these standards. On one hand, to help students achieve a strong foundation of math learning gives those students wonderful capacity and confidence for later learning. Yet, on the other hand, this isn't the kind of passion-based, highly engaging learning that we know creates lifelong learners and lovers of math--in many ways it's too shallow, fast-paced, and less meaningful and relative than other ways to teach. Right now, however, to reach the expectations set by state and system, there's no choice but to teach all these standards with as much depth, meaning, and engagement as possible.

I'll continue on the path set, yet I'll be aware of that "just right push" forward--a push that motivates, but does not stress students out. Onward.