Thursday, November 28, 2013

The School Year Ahead

In order to enjoy the holiday, I have to put school to rest, and in order to put school to rest, I need to chart the course ahead. Having a good map makes a big difference when it comes to doing the job well.

School Community
I've tried many different ways to interact and collaborate with the school community. Some have been successful, and some have not been successful. In many ways, my vision for the community doesn't match the vision of others, and this has been troubling at times. Since my earliest days, I've been impatient for change--when I see something good, I want to act on it. Yet the process of innovation and change in complex systems is often slow, slow that is good due to the scrutiny, assessment and discernment, and slow that is not so good with regard to lost potential, fear, and competition. Therefore for the rest of the year, I'll continue those "greater system" efforts that have worked, efforts such as sharing new learning, helping others when I have what they need, and contributing ideas when asked, and I'll back away from some of the bigger issues with regard to systematic change and effort.

The Grade-Level Team
There has been lots of positive sharing, learning, and growth with the grade level team. The fact that we share newsletters, classroom efforts, questions, materials, and tools makes us stronger. Our engagement in shared study and new curriculum efforts have been positive too. This is a dynamic team, one I'm happy to work with, and will continue to support and learn from in multiple ways.

The students are the center of my work.  I want to look for more ways to respond with care, provide feedback, listen, accentuate their contributions, and develop team in my classroom. At this time the children are happy and engaged with the learning. I want to continue that spirit and also build greater independence, collaboration, contribution, and learning in the weeks ahead. For starters, I have a box of papers and online docs to review. When we get back to school, I'll make plenty of time for one-to-one reading/writing conferences too. There are many student creations to share in our upcoming newsletter, and I'll also make time for class meetings so students may tell me what they need, want, and desire in order to learn well.

Learning Design
The challenge to embed the standards into worthy learning design is a wonderful challenge--one I look forward to each day. I truly enjoy the act of personalizing and differentiating content in ways that teach children well. In the next few months I'll focus on three areas of learning design.

First, I'll continue to build a multimodal, blended math learning environment by utilizing many tools, strategies and processes to teach math well.  I want to study more about the connection between math learning and visual literacy too in this regard. The challenge with math is time as there is never enough time to teach all the concepts required with the kind of depth and repetition necessary. Hence, I'll look for ways to be both efficient and sufficient with regard to developing a sturdy math foundation for students' future learning.

I'll work with my grade level team, a consultant, and the ELA curriculum director to renew our narrative unit with both past and new strategies. I'd also like to build my own ability in writing throughout this unit too so that I am able to model the strategies with strength.

Finally, using the work of Donalyn Miller, Fisher, and Frey, I want to develop our reading workshop, close reading, and read aloud work to build a vibrant community of readers. I set aside the time in the schedule for this work, and will make the time to study, read to and with students, and analyze text together.

Throughout the learning efforts, we'll employ multiple tools including technology to strengthen learning, engagement, and share.

Professional Associations
The professional associations I enjoy feed my work as an educator.  In that regard, I'll complete the NBPTS renewal process, engage in RETELL study, plan for spring presentations at The Wayland Literacy and Math Institutes, attend Educon, chat, read blogs, and participate in a number of edcamps in the months to come.

The course for the second half of the school year is set.  I'll return to this menu after the Thanksgiving holiday celebrations.  As always I welcome your feedback should you see areas I've missed or new information that will nurture the course.