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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Thoughts: The Week Ahead - Last Week in March 2017

Typically I end the week with a projection for the next week, but as you can see by my last posts, I was struck with a big case of exhaustion. The work-plate simply runneth over and it was clear that I needed a big sleep which fortunately I did get last night. For the last three weeks I felt like that little soccer player that constantly hobbles up and down the field chasing the ball but never reaching it. Why did this happen?

Simply stated, I was involved in a very large number of professional learning and teaching efforts in the past two-three years--efforts that grabbed a lot of morning, evening, weekend, and vacation time. Finally, the tank was on empty. Better pacing would have prevented this, but one effort, the book project I'm involved in, took much more time than anticipated. Sometimes when you embark on a new endeavor, you simply can't anticipate how much effort that activity will take. I was also involved in a number of personal family events this year that took a bit more time and energy than anticipated--again that I was difficult to know ahead of time.

Generally I'm the kind of person that likes a chest or bureau with a few empty drawers, or a schedule with open time so that when a good event, object or opportunity arises, there's space for that. I don't like a too-tight schedule or pattern as I value time for creativity and think greatly and too-tight schedules squeeze out spontaneity, serendipity, and creativity. I like lazy mornings that enable me to look out the window, wonder, write, and create--that's ideal for me.

So with all that in mind, I've essentially cleared my plate of professional activities outside of my favorite efforts which are all classroom related by just saying no in the past few weeks to other invites and professional events. I've cleared the path so there's needed time for the children at school, my own personal needs/efforts, and that beloved time for wonder. I expect I won't face this level of exhaustion again anytime soon (fingers crossed).

So what will the week ahead bring?

Professional-Family Event
Sadly a beloved member of our professional team experienced a significant loss this week. He's been attending to this family matter, and his absence has made everyone realize just how much he does everyday to support everyone of us. I really want to be present for him at this time to acknowledge his loss and his tremendous contribution to our learning community each and every day.

Fraction Projects
On Friday I gave students a lesson on model making using a large variety of online tools to support their fraction project work. The projects are coming along wonderfully and I'll spend some time this afternoon looking them over and providing suggestions as students work towards mastery on these story projects. The goal of the project is for students to apply the fraction concepts we've been learning to real world situations in a story context with models, numbers lines, mathematical language, and images.

Fraction Concepts
All week we'll review a large number of fraction concepts by making models, solving problems, and doing number work. The review will include a host of explicit lessons which are a bit dry, but necessary so that students know how to make, interpret, and discuss the concepts and models. Students will use their math tools to follow and contribute to the lessons.

Math Skill, Review, and Enrichment
Students will engage with Khan Academy and Symphony Math to practice skills and review math concepts as they prepare for the systemwide fifth grade math test and upcoming MCAS tests. Khan Academy provides a wonderful multimodal review of all grade level standards on the computer which is great practice for the online MCAS tests which will look much like PARCC tests we took last year. Symphony Math helps students to understand math concepts through a large number of modeling exercises thus helping students to readily connect math concepts to the visual models those concepts represent.  As Symphony Math gets better, I find myself liking the platform much more.

Reading Study
My small reading group will continue to read and discuss the wonderful book, Becoming Naomi Leon - a perfect book for the group.

Special Events
The team will do final preparations for our upcoming trips to the Museum of African American History.

Professional Learning
I'll find time to do some of the work related to the MTA TLP committee I'm on, and I'd like to find time to read the Frederick Douglas autobiography that's been sitting on my bed stand for weeks now.

As I write, I realize how I write and rewrite the plans for days, weeks, and months. It doesn't make for good reading, I know, but it does support this blog's intent which is to tell the true story of one educator at this time in history. It is a story of planning and re-planning as I respond to all that impacts my work as an educator and a mom. No two teachers approach the job in the same way and every teacher's story will read a bit different. I hope that ultimately I'll be able to pen a book that supports new educators in their quest to do what they can to serve every child well. It's remarkable that our country still supports a public education for every child which provides the potential of helping to give every child a strong start in life and the tools with which to contribute to and enjoy a strong nation and global community. This is positive work, and work that I continue to be proud to be apart of. The constant challenge is how to do it well, and this challenge is what makes the job awesome and daunting at the same time. Onward.