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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Teaching/Learning Rhythms

Throughout your teaching/learning life you'll employ different rhythms in order to teach well and attend to your personal life and family.

Yesterday a teacher who is also a dad shared that one of his at-school prep times is 5am on Sunday mornings. That's a routine that allows him to get his work done and still care for family. When I was a young mom, my husband came home early once a week so I could work late to prepare the week's work, clean up the classroom, and sometimes participate in a course or extra learning event. Teachers, who typically have a myriad of at-home and school schedules, get the work done with all kinds of routines, and this works well if you're cognizant of the need to create a good rhythm, one that serves you, your family, and work well.

It's also advantageous if the system you work for employs a rhythm too--an expected schedule that's presented at the end of the past year or start of the next that creates a framework for the year. The schedule might include professional learning days, school vacations, testing dates, special events, report dates, and if possible, the dates of important decisions such as teacher placement, summer work, and changes in school system practice or expectation.

Summer, a teacher's "think tank" time, is a good time to think about the best rhythm for your work in the school year to come. When will you learn? When will you respond to students' efforts? When will you contribute to the grade-level team, school team, and system-wide team? Will you participate in extra learning events, presentations, or conferences? You won't be able to plan for all and a flexible attitude towards new events is good, but if you can create a good rhythm for your own work you'll be off to a good start.

As for me, I overextended a bit this year so next year I'll try to strike a better balance with the work and learning schedule.

In general, I like my early morning think, read, write time. That serves my work well and I plan to keep that in place for most days.

I also enjoy contributing to the school by serving on a committee or possibly two. I'll work with my grade-level team in this regard so that one of us serves on each of the designated committees which include tech committee, child study, and faculty senate.

I want to leave plenty of time for our new team model which will include two PLCs--one for curriculum/data review and one for attention to specific learners and special education-general education collaboration. I also want to leave time for student response which will include a daily check-in of students' home study, follow up for students who are unable to study at home, and regular assessment review.

With school time left over, I'll work on special events for the grade level including field studies, big projects, and model review and revision.

It will be a year of leaning in to the grade level/school focus with a rhythm that supports good, positive energy and effort.

What will your teaching/learning rhythm look like next year? Where will your emphasis lie? Where do you want to build and develop your craft, and how do you want to contribute to the grade-level, school, and system? For those of us who have limitless jobs, these are good questions to consider during summer days.