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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Righting the Ship in the School Sea

A lot of times I feel like a ship at sea during the school year. That's because there's an ocean of activity, both expected and unexpected, happening at all times. And to get to the shores of happy, engaged, and well educated students, I have to continually navigate the ship in ways that matter.

We're moving past the busy port of origin into the open waters of the school year now. What does that mean?

Daily Routine
The students caught on to the daily routine quickly. The weekly schedule is posted on the door and they check it every day as they enter the room. The daily schedule is written on chart paper and they check that too. Supplies have places to accommodate learning and tech schedules are set. A good routine sets the stage for independence and time on task with learning.

Assessments
We're giving lots of start-of-year assessments now. Even though it seems a bit laborious, the data really helps us to target our teaching in important ways for every child. In a couple of weeks we'll synthesize that data and create lots of terrific differentiated paths and choices for student learning.

Tech Menus
We're introducing students to lots of great tech programs that they can use to boost their learning throughout the year. Eventually those tech programs will result in terrific learning choice lists that students can follow during workshop learning times and home study.

Professional Learning Community
We created norms, chose roles, and started this worthy professional collaboration weekly meeting, a meeting that has the potential to invigorate and deepen our work with respect to teaching chidren well.

Goal Setting
Professional goals have been set for most of us and we'll soon meet with an administrator to chart the path for professional learning and growth.

Professional Learning
I've identified a number of books and professional learning events that I'll attend and take part in this year--all events and efforts that match my development interests and needs well.

Field Studies and Special Events
The teaching team is tying up the last few details with regard to planning a large number of special learning events for students. These events give us all something special to look forward to and broaden our perspective related to the classroom learning topics.

Feedback
We've been responding to many emails. Soon students will reflect on their initial learning and we'll respond by reviewing their showcase portfolios and individual work. Then it will be time for the first family conferences of the year. Those conferences provide a good time for sharing initial informal and formal assessment data and goal setting.

Team Building
We had our first BIG team building day, The Global Cardboard Challenge Create Day. On our next team event, students will set up their cardboard games, theaters, and play stations on the playground and invite the younger students in the school to play. These events are joyful, collaborative, and open learning events.

The year is off to a good start. Now the focus is on completing assessments, organizing the data, analysis, and program design/development to best teach each child. Onward.