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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Room for Growth

This morning's #satchat brought to light the many areas where I have room for growth with regard to classroom teaching. Teaching well is a limitless proposition--you're never there, but you can always improve.

My overall goal is to lean in and teach a dynamic standards-based, student-centered program with an emphasis on positive collaboration, good communication, depth, purpose, and continued growth.

I'm charting my areas of need below so I can take advantage of related learning opportunities in this regard in the days and weeks ahead.

Communication
I continue to want to think about this area of my teaching/learning life. I come from a home where direct conversation was a constant--we debated nightly at the dinner table and there was no topic that was off-limits. I've come to recognize the diversity of communication styles and comfort levels at play in a work environment--we all have different histories, expectations, and styles when it comes to communication. I continue to learn about this as I try out multiple communication venues.

Establishing regular communication patterns that keep the learning team up-to-date and in the know is mostly successful. At times, there may be too many emails outside of the pattern, and I think greater early year analysis and pattern establishment with the team will remedy that. I also want to have more face-to-face contact up front in the year with collaborating teachers in order to create successful patterns of communication and goals together.

I have also found that the more we can prioritize as a team about who-does-what and what we aim to do, the more targeted and pointed our communication will be.

Our weekly PLCs really help with regard to team communication and share as does the weekly meeting I have with my partner teacher. Regular, transparent communication from colleagues and leaders also supports this share.

Home-School Communication
I want to be more explicit next year with regard to home-school communication patterns and expectations. I want to make sure that families understand well what's available as well as the goals of the classroom program. I also want to make lots of time at the start of the school year to invite family participation and voice in this regard, and adapt communication systems accordingly.

Strategic Planning
Strategic planning related to supplies, student services, and the curriculum really helps when it comes to teaching well. If you spend the time upfront organizing those aspects of the teaching/learning year then you have the time needed to troubleshoot and respond to the unexpected events and needs that always arise. This kind of planning relies on lead time and good communication with regard to system-wide, grade-level, school, and curriculum goals as well.

Classroom Choreography
Since students respond to a variety of teaching strategies, there needs to be room to include lots of differentiation with regard to learning experiences, voice, and choice in the classroom. We need to make sure that every child is getting what he/she needs often. I was reminded of that yesterday when I had the chance to work with a young student one-to-one for the first time in a long time. We had such a terrific share and I could tell that the student was really happy. Similarly one of my colleagues takes a boys' writing group each week. They publish a monthly magazine. They respond very well to this personalized, targeted attention that develops skill and a joy of writing too. How do we choreograph the day so that every child gets what he/she needs? What patterns of learning and teaching serve our students best?

Shared Responsibility
This year I work with a partner teacher and a grade-level team. The teaming is terrific and really benefits student learning. No one teacher can do it all and we have to look for ways to work together to target the work so that we're doing what's important for every child.

Curriculum Program
I want to review the curriculum program with depth. I'd like to weed the program of ineffective practice and programs and replace that with more meaningful, culturally relevant work. I will work on this during the summer on my own and with my team. I'll also target topics and venues for greater professional learning in this regard.

This summer I'll make the time to review what worked well this year and what I can improve upon by myself and with my team to teach better. The areas above are areas that will be critical to a good analysis.