Monday, January 23, 2017

This Week's Teaching/Learning Focus: January 2017

As mentioned earlier, many outside-of-school efforts were pushed aside to make space for student teaching/learning efforts recently. Even though this meant spending lots of weekend, evening, and early morning time outside of school on school efforts, I must say that I'm glad I made that time. I finally feel like I'm catching up to the many positively challenging needs in my teaching/learning midst.

The key now is to stay the course so I don't feel the giant weight of not keeping up. In a perfect world, elementary school teachers would not have such extensive outside-of-school work, yet, on the other hand, teaching is one of those limitless jobs--the kind of job where you are always making the decision about how much extra time you'll give your work. Sometimes you will decide to give that giant push of extra work to reach forward to what your vision is for teaching and learning well. Systems can help teachers with this challenge by making the time to think carefully with educators about how they'll use the hours in a day, and particularly how they will build in time for teacher-driven professional work that serves students well. For example, this weekend I've already spent about 10 hours prepping for and working on student report cards. I have another 5 or so hours to go--that's work that is completely done on our own time. Not every educator has to complete report cards, but many do, and it is a considerable time-taker.

So as I catch up to the vision I have for teaching well, I'm focused on this week's teaching and learning. What are the priorities?

Decimal Computation and Problem Solving Review
Today we'll dig into the details of decimal computation and problem solving. Students are making good progress in this area, but we still have room for growth with regard to organization, precision, and problem solving explanations. I'll start with a "think aloud" modeling of that work, and then I'll give students the chance to review and redo a number of the problems I've reviewed in the past few days. I'll take a  look at students' revisions, and colleagues and I will offer support and coaching in this regard.

Decimal Unit Test
On Wednesday students will take the decimal unit test. I'll review those tests next week and use the results to make recommendations for upcoming RTI efforts.

Greatest Common Factor and Lowest Common Multiple
While these specific words are not on our standards, they do arise on an upcoming systemwide assessment. Further reviewing the language helps a lot as we begin to teach the fraction standards. I'll begin this study with a systematic whole class practice and review on Thursday and then an online menu for review for Friday.

Homework Review/Solid Figures Review
I'll check students' homework today. We've got a good home study routine in place and we'll continue that. Again like GCF and LCM, solid figures show up on a systemwide assessment, but not on the standards. Students will have a chance to review that information for homework this week with a packet that they should enjoy and find quite accessible. I make Wednesday mornings and other times available for student help should they need it.

Math RTI
I'll work with my group to make multiplication charts today. I find that if students make their own multiplication charts, it helps them understand how to use the charts and gives them an advantage for upcoming tests.

Reading RTI
My group will continue to practice using One Minute Reader. Students and I both enjoy the short articles this program provides. I'll also complete the mid-year benchmark tests I'm charged to give.

Social Competency
We'll continue our study of Frederick Douglass and our emphasis on character as we focus in on social competency. We'll also soon host the school counselor again to lead us in an open circle exercise. As needed, we have classroom meetings, and I'll continue to regularly embed social emotional learning during the school day. Lately I've been focused on helping all students follow the school routine keeping in mind that a simple, productive schedule helps students feel more ownership, control, voice, and success over their surroundings.

Report Cards
My team and I will complete the report cards which are due on Tuesday (hopefully Tuesday at midnight!).

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Study Group
Finally I've caught up with the group's expectations. It's been a tedious, but profitable, learning endeavor. I'm sure this collaborative effort will serve my teaching well as I work to embed SEL into daily teaching and learning efforts.

I'll spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Educon. While I don't like being away from my family for that long, I am always happy, in the end, when I make the time for Educon. There are few conferences or learning events that live up to the quality and eye-opening learning that Educon provides. I'm ready to be positively challenged and pushed at this three-day education event, one that helps me to keep my work aligned with the best work that is happening in and around education--work that always serves to help me positively serve my students.

Screening Committee
I'm serving on the new superintendent's screening committee. I'm very excited about working with such a dynamic group of citizens, educators, parents, and committee members to participate in this process. I expect to receive information about this during the week since I heard an announcement about it online last week.

School Committee Meetings
As a teacher and representative/secretary of my local union, I've been listening to all the school committee meetings online. I am encouraged by the bright and dedicated work I witness by so many citizens, school committee members, and staff at those meetings. I am learning a lot by watching those meetings. I am especially happy to learn about systemwide efforts that affect my teaching/learning work with lead time and details. I believe that the more we know as educators, the better we can do. When information is secretive or not transparent, good work is hindered. Hence when I watch the school committee meetings, I can share the good information with colleagues and others as needed and act on that information in timely, proactive ways.

Online Scrabble
Okay, not a requirement in any way, but the perfect winter companion when I watch the news or other entertainment--its' a favorite pasttime!

It's going to be a busy, busy week--a week starting with today's schedule:
  • clean bags, coat rack, desks, and folders (weekly organization)
  • pass in last week's homework and start working on this week's homework
  • review homework completion with individual students
  • math decimal computation and problem solving review and revision
  • SEL study group
  • Report Cards
Here's to a busy and successful week for me, my students, and everyone in my PLN! It's time to start turning those wheels. Onward.