Saturday, September 22, 2012

Teaching Children Well: Pattern and Process

My week was much like the little picture to the right, a bumpy road of learning. The bumps forced me to relook at my process and pattern for teaching and learning during the school year.

The quiet days of summer study are gone, and now we're in the busy, minute-to-minute days of the school year.  I have found that it is best to put a good structure in place so that most of my time and effort can be spent focused on the preparation, action and feedback related to student learning.

What does that pattern and process look like?

First, it is important to set up communication schedules, protocols and focus for the many professionals you work with.  Answering questions such as what is the focus of our collaboration, when will we meet and how will we best work together for students' gain at the start of the collaborative process sets the stage for optimal work.

Next, it is important to set up a system of planning, implementation and feedback.  I'll utilize the following process.
  • Create the weekly plan one week ahead of the teaching leaving time for revision and change. Share the plan with the teaching team so they're able to modify, make revisions or integrate their goals with the overall learning plan.  (I started this practice when I had babies because one never knew what each day would bring.)
  • Share the teaching goals, events, home study chart and focus with students and parents online on Fridays and via hard copy on Mondays.  
  • When planning and revising each unit, reread the new standards and attach the learning standards to the lesson plans.  
  • Unit by unit move all lesson plans and activities to Google sites so that the information is easy to share with the entire team: students, family members, educators and the community.
  • Have a weekly plan of professional development, and for me that includes Twitter chats, a grad course, reading and reflection.
In order to make time for family and fun, I have even charted the pattern on a weekly calendar so the important work that goes into the weekly teaching activity is streamlined, leaving classroom time for meaningful student interaction, and home time for family and friends. 

How does your weekly pattern and process differ from mine?  What tips do you have for streamlining efforts and growing your practice?  Thanks for your thoughts.