Friday, August 16, 2019

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: School Year Notes

I wanted to place all  my notes about this wonderful book in one place for ready reference:


2019-2020 Reading List

Solidarity Economy

Be a helper

This is the first of the last three years of my teaching career. It is also my 34th year of teaching. Last year, my 33rd year of teaching, was my best year to date thanks to the incredible collaboration of my grade-level team and the modern ways we teach today. We truly fostered a dynamic teaching/learning community and reaped many positive results with regard to students' overall experience of school and academic success. Of course there remains room for growth and goals to achieve, but I've never felt better about teaching with a new school year on the horizon.

With three years left, time to do the job well, a good level of experience, and an open mind, I want to spend my final three years doing the best I can by my grade-level team including students, families, colleagues, and community members. I also want to help out when and where I can. Since there are many new educators and leaders in my midst, I can offer a historical perspective to the school system and community in general. That being said, I am also excited to learn from the new educators and administrators too--I love the way that new people can inspire your outlook and add to your knowledge and skill.

How do I plan to be a helper? I plan to be present should people have questions or needs. I plan to help out with time and support when available, and I plan to add my perspective when I believe it is helpful. I also plan to step back too in order to let others lead with their ideas, experience, and perspective.

I want to end my teaching career with as much good dedication and service as I can. That's important to me, and a positive way to begin a new year. Onward.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Some things are not meant to be

This week I worked towards a couple of personal and professional initiatives that simply are not meant to be. I worked at those efforts in a large number of ways, and when obstacles arose, I did the research and tried to work at them in different ways. No matter what I tried, I didn't make any headway, and I used up a lot of time trying. When I give it my all, and no one is losing out significantly, I do give up if an effort doesn't work after numerous tries, and that's exactly what happened with these events--eventually it became clear that for whatever reason that may exist, those efforts are not suppose to happen right now.

This has happened to me in my life in the past, and generally when I've tried and tried and tried, and events don't go as hoped for, I eventually look back and recognize that the events simply were not meant to be and by not engaging in those events, room was left for other, more important efforts.

The lack of success with these relatively insignificant events alerted me once again to the advantage of good planning and lead time. In many ways, these events were somewhat spontaneous and the schedule was already full. On the other hand, there was another event added on at the last minute that turned out to be just perfect--a smooth, easy add-on that resulted in positivity.

Not all goes as planned, and some things are not meant to be. Those are adages that come in handy on days like this.

School Schedules and Calendars: Lead Time Matters

We received our school schedule yesterday a couple of weeks before the start of school. It's advantageous for educators to receive those schedules ahead of the first few teaching days of the year because it allows us to carefully plan classroom routines and events.

We also have a shared school calendar, and that helps a lot too. The more that educators have shared calendars, scheduling documents, and apt processes related to effective scheduling, the better. Lead time and good process help us to make plans for awesome field studies, expert visitors, and student-centered programming and learning experiences. All educators know that once the school year gets started, there's little time for this kind of good planning and prep.

Now that our system leadership has shared the schedules, teachers can begin the next leg of planning including the following:

Scheduling Intervention Services
Multiple educators push in and pull out with regard to providing specialized services and therapies to students. Now that we've crafted a draft schedule, we'll want to carefully plan those service routines so that students do not miss essential class time and so that students receive the good services they are supposed to receive.

Scheduling Field Studies and Expert Visitors
There is substantial phone time and paperwork related to scheduling expert visitors. To do that before the school year begins is advantageous for all.

Team Time and Weekly Routines
Having this information allows our collegial team to plan a healthy, positive weekly routine of learning experiences and team time.