Sunday, May 22, 2016

Teaching Well: The Week Ahead - Last Full Week in May

It's been a busy weekend of mostly school work due to a number of ongoing issues. For some reason, this stress rages at the end of May when many last minute directives surface.

I'm a big fan of planning and preparation that mostly happens nine months ahead of implementation. I think this keeps stress at bay and good, thoughtful work flowing. When we're playing catch-up, stress reigns and that kind of stress is not good for anyone.

Those distanced from the day-to-day work of classroom life probably forget the intensity of student need, programming, and paperwork that's a natural part of the end of the school year. Those of us in classrooms daily are fully aware of this and that's why we plan our programs carefully to leave time for the attention it takes to end the year with care, energy, and attention. In an ideal world, we'd have more hands-on support during the final weeks of school than less, and we'd have less new directives and initiatives than more at this sensitive time of year. The school year plans and patterns matter a lot when it comes to doing good work.

The week ahead is an exciting week of teaching and learning.

Fifth Grade Play
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the fifth grade play will take center stage. The key here is supporting students' end-of-practice efforts with enthusiasm, positivity, and good coaching. I've got to get my costume ready and practice my lines too as I have a small role in the performance.

Nature Walk
We've also got a great nature walk planned with high school students and parents. I've drafted the scavenger hunt which relates well to our science study. I have to carve out time with my colleagues to review the scavenger hunt with students, make groups, and prepare related materials for this short walk in the woods.

Spadefoot Tadpoles
They're growing big. It's time to pick up more food, clean the tanks, and continue to support these tiny endangered animals as they prepare for their new Drumlin Farm habitat. It's great to see how tiny creatures like this can spur a sense of calm and curiosity in the classroom.

Biography Project
During quiet times, students and teachers will continue to work on biography projects and presentations. I've signed out the computer lab for this and I'll likely place a desk between the classroom and the hallway lab so students can spread out and work in both places. We're at the challenging part of that project, the place where we push students to write more, research deeper, and find those facts and anecdotes that turn a basic report into a thought providing "interview."

Massachusetts Collaborative
I'm meeting with an education consultant this week who has a great idea related to helping teachers throughout Massachusetts improve and develop their teaching/learning efforts. This woman has a terrific vision, and I know that working with her will positively affect my craft as well as the connections I'm able to bring to colleagues too.

There's a couple of great celebrations this week too--one professional and one personal. I don't want to use up all my energy at the start of the week so that I still have energy to celebrate with those that I honor and those that I love.