Friday, June 23, 2017

Working With Tight Protocols and Mandates

I work with increasingly tight protocols and mandates.

This, as you can imagine, challenges the creative, child-centered teaching approach I value and believe in.

Yet, I want to keep my job to support my family so I will follow the mandates set.

How can I be child-centered, creative, and teach with meaning in the face of these very tight rules and protocols?

Math Scope and Sequence
I have a tight math scope and sequence to follow. The order is not one I would choose, but I have been told that doesn't matter and I must follow the order as set by some. I will find a meaningful way to do this that includes the following elements:
  • Early year introduction to math tools, resources, Google classroom, games, routines, and protocols
  • Early year assessments including tests, math autobiography, portfolio/reflection work
  • Math units that include big picture, paradoxical, brain-friendly introductions, meaningful real-world problems, projects, and data, online and offline practice, teamwork, explicit teaching, vocabulary, exploration, and assessment. 
I'll follow the order prescribed using creativity and sensitivity to bring the prescription to life in ways that are meaningful and engaging for children.

STEAM Projects
I'll work with grade-level colleagues to make time for the STEAM projects. I will bring creativity to the projects as we tie them together with meaningful focus and themes.

As I think about yesterday's STEAM explanation, I realize that it would have been great if the staff had met to discuss this as a teaching team earlier in the year. That would have brought the best ideas forward and helped us to help one another choose materials and think about our process and focus on this important part of the curriculum. 

I'll learn about the many science kits ordered for us and work with colleagues to personalize the kits in ways that make the teaching and learning meaningful to students. 

Professional Learning 
I'll learn with supportive committees such as DESE's Teacher Advisory Cabinet (TAC), MTAs Teaching and Professional Learning Committee (TPL), NEA/MTA's National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Initiative, local union efforts, my dynamic grade-level team and online groups I associate with. These are groups that are filled with enthusiastic, dedicated educators who are forwarding modern processes, think, and effort to transform schools and teach every child well. 

Field Studies
I'll continue to plan and support a worthy array of field studies for students. I hope to connect those field studies deeply with the work we do each day to teach children well.

Open Circle/Social Competency
I'll look for ways to institute a daily class meeting, share, and leadership meeting where students have a chance to express their ideas and questions as they lead and manage their own learning community.

Learning Community Efforts
I'll do what I can to establish and develop a strong learning community of family members, educators and students so that we can support one another with efforts to teach every child well.

Warm, Welcoming Learning Environment
I will forward a grant to support a more modern learning environment, one that replaces the old fashion desks, chairs, and shelving we have. I will write a grant to support this. As a team, we may forward the grant to support classrooms as reading/research nook, writing studio, and STEAM lab--that would give students a variety of supportive learning environments to work in during the year. 

I will avoid outdated learning venues and committees--ones that are essentially ineffective with regard to process and result.