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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ECET2-MA2016: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I keep thinking back to ECET2-MA2016, and despite the somewhat discouraging political/organizational realities of school life, what I learned that day is truly positively impacting my teaching.

I had so much fun using GoNoodle with the students. I started with the same pattern dance/song that Audrey and Victor shared on Saturday.

I also did a lot of coaching in math and really thought about Jose's inspirational talk and message as I coached each child. It's so rewarding to be able to help children grow with confidence and care. And as Jose reminded us, when we treat them well, they respond in like.

Further, I reached out to family members for a bit of support for current learning goals, and since we work as a team, they were quick to write back a few responses and a correction to help the whole team of family members, students, and teachers.

Though feeling somewhat "shackled" by mandates, when I'm in the classroom working with my grade-level colleagues, children, and family members, that ECET2-MA2016 spirit reigns and that's valuable.
These respectful and inspiring ECET2 values definitely empower what we can do to serve and teach children well. 

Direction: Freedom and Happiness

In light of recent events, I'll move towards freedom.

ECET2-MA2016 was a move towards freedom as the event brought earnest, dedicated educators together and elevated and celebrated what we can do for children.

Reading, research, creating, writing, and collaborating are all freeing activities--activities that serve to better what we can do individually and collectively.

Too tight, managed protocols may limit freedom, but might be necessary. I will complete those as necessary, but not choose those when I have choice. Instead I'll choose avenues towards greater freedom, understanding, working together, and learning.

How does this impact my path?

Scope and Sequence
I will follow this as I have been told to do this. I want to keep my job and I will not be insubordinate, so I will follow the plan as directed.

Professional Learning
I will respectfully take part in mandated professional learning. I will also continue to choose wonderful professional learning events that inspire my teaching craft and potential.

I will seek to work with collaborative groups that help all of us do a better job and serve children well. Currently those groups include my specific and broad grade-level teams, local union work, DESE's Teacher Advisory Cabinet, MTA's Professional Learning Committee, ECET2 activity, SEL Research Project, and affiliations with curriculum groups and associations.

Healthy, Joyful Activity
I always say it, but I don't always do it but "All work and no play makes dull teachers," so I'll look to build up the joy and healthy activity in my life.

I'll seek ways to contribute and build community at home and at school. Every day I teach with a wonderful group of students and colleagues, so I'll work with them to empower what we can do together to teach and learn well.

I want to be a positive member of the learning/teaching community. The "shackles" I feel are there, but I will work to remove those through greater direction towards freedom and happiness. Onward.


There are times when the school environment creates
shackles that limit the creativity, response, and good teaching
possible. How can we remove those shackles? I'm thinking about that.
Sometimes the teaching/learning world makes me feel like I'm wearing shackles. The top-down directives, admonishments, and limitations limit the creativity, response, and learning I do--why learn or try that if I can't use it?

When and why does this happen? What would be ideal for an educator like me?

Standards-Based Curriculum
I'm a teacher who is a fan of the standards-based approach to teaching. I like having a list of loose-tight standards' goals to meet, and I like the intent of the common core which is that educators can meet those standards with creativity, meaning, and response rather than in one specific way. If I had this freedom more often, I would create and use lessons that inspire my students' creativity, collaboration, leadership, and dynamic learning. Instead, I have a long list of paper/pencil lessons I'm suppose to teach, lessons which offer less creativity, interest, and response than what I'd use if I had that freedom.

Free Tech Access
In my teaching/learning dream world, I'd be able to easily add and delete apps and programs, continuously researching and trying out new programs to make math learning engaging, entertaining, and fun! I'd try to match app with child so that every child could learn in vigorous ways. I'd learn to use Minecraft and employ it with regard to students' lessons. I'd also use lots of collaborative education gaming sites too. My classroom would be a vibrant tech infused environment. In the past, my class was much more like this, but since then many more restrictions and rules have been added to my teaching expectations. Further, I'd like to find a way to give every child who does not have access to a computer, a computer and access to WIFI at home. In school I'd make sure that there was one-to-one access to high quality tech for every student--it's time.

Teacher Leadership
Rather than lots of leaders who do not teach, I'd work with teams of teacher leaders who problem solve and lead together in hybrid roles of teaching and leading. For example, I'd love to see every teacher on a leadership team, and it would be great to see those leadership teams use modern day strategic process to make authentic decisions together to lead our teaching/learning. I believe this kind of distributive leadership or "teams within teams" would uplift elementary schools and also provide terrific modeling for students with regard to the collaboration and leadership skills they'll use in their future.

Learning Design Decisions
I'd like to see all educators involved in school design decisions so teachers and students have the kind of welcoming environment they need to teach and learn well.

Transparent, Open, Regular Communication
Rather than find out the news from other sources, I support regular, open, transparent communication to all teaching/learning stakeholders in the community. When this happens there's less conjecture and hearsay, and more time to work with the open information. Too often information is not openly shared with educators, and this creates information share that's similar to a game of "telephone" which may lead to difficult situations.

Good Programming
I would keep much of the good programming we have such as art, music, instrumental, and library. I'd change our technology classes to coding classes since most students are utilizing technology fluidly in the classrooms. Learning coding at a young age will build mathematical skill.

We have a great playground, and I wish that for every school environment.

Adequate Staffing
Our school has good staffing numbers, and this is wonderful. I want to think more deeply about how we employ that staffing to teach best. Timeliness and targeted support is key when it comes to teaching well.

Professional Learning
I'd like to see this better tied to teacher voice and educator choice with regard to each educator's goals. Teachers most often know what they need, and it would be great if professional learning time was dedicated to meeting teacher-identified needs and interests.

Right now, I can dream on my own time, but during school I have protocols to follow. It seems like those who manage my work are tired of my questioning, new ideas, and requests. It's discouraging, but that's the way it is.