Sunday, September 30, 2018

Focus on What Matters

In any organization bureaucracy can take over one's mind, one's attention, and one's direction. This is not what should happen. Instead the mission and vision of the work should lead one forward--what does that mean for me heading into the second month of school?

I will take the time to look over students' first unit of math study carefully--who achieved and who still needs more teaching and learning in this regard? After that analysis, I'll make plans about when and how I'll reteach and support students who missed some essential learning in that unit. I'll also head into the next unit with all students in ways that have been successful to students in the past. I'll also begin the teaching and learning related to physical science and STEAM study while embedding SEL lessons throughout the teaching and learning. To do that means taking care to thoughtfully plan our first multidisciplinary lesson related to our watershed study--this lesson will include both physical science, math standards.

System-Wide Decisions
Our school system leadership will meet with us to discuss changing school start times. I will listen carefully to the proposals and my colleagues questions and ideas. It's important that school start times are ideal for all students not just some, and my research to date points to the fact that the most positive change will cost the system extra money and I will likely choose along the lines of what's best for all students with regard to the research about student health and optimal learning/living.

Professional Learning
We have a systemwide professional learning event however we don't know what that will be or where it will be. I am a learner that likes to preview material and learning with good time, so I worry about learning that doesn't include good lead time or an introduction. However, I'll do as I'm asked to do--attend the learning event and cull what I can to develop my practice.

Student Service Meeting 
We had a very good nuts and bolts student service meeting last week. This week we'll likely go deeper to discuss practices we can embed to serve all students well. This is a positive weekly meeting.

ELA Data Meeting
We'll dive into scores and more related to reading instruction this week and make groups for RTI reading instruction where we help students to build fluency and comprehension skills in meaningful ways. This practice has resulted in positive reading and writing growth over the years. It's a lot of work, but work that's worth it.

Student Teacher
I'll continue to supervise the student teacher by reviewing the schedule of the week to come, helping her to plan, prepare, and teach lessons, and observing her work in action as she teaches a number of lessons this week. She's an excellent teacher so that's a joy.

Teaching in Nature
As noted in the previous post many lessons will revolve around standards-based environmental education this week including multidisciplinary background lessons about watersheds and river habitats, an introduction to the history, geography, and biology of the local habitat, a fun and games study of facts related to the SUASCO watershed, a hands-on model making event, and a class hike and hands-on exploration in nature. This effort will take care and attention to multiple learning points and with dedication will result in an awesome first week of study with our Drumlin farm naturalist coach, students, family members, and educators.

Student Response
In keeping with this year's goal, I'll collect this week's practice packet on Tuesday and review students' efforts Tuesday afternoon and evening. On Wednesday I'll review students' online work. I'll provide two mornings of extra help before school, and talk to students and contact families and educators with regard to students who are not keeping up with their practice to see how we might support those students more. My goal is to check in on all learners each week via these feedback loops to ensure that every child is having the opportunity for just-right practice and response on a weekly basis.

As you can see it will be a busy week ahead--one that demands I keep the focus. This is typically true for all educators wherever they teach. Onward.