Sunday, January 20, 2019

MLK Weekend: A Weekend of Reflection

Educators who work in classrooms with lots of children have little time for energized reflection. That's why this three-day weekend in the middle of winter is such a welcome time to simply think about what's important and what needs to be done. We all need this good time to reflect on our values, efforts, and time. As I reflect this weekend, a number of ideas and actions come to mind.

Extra Help Sessions
I find that extra help sessions during the week are rewarding because students are enthusiastic, they make progress, and I am able to help. As it stands now I offer two extra help sessions to any interested students two mornings a week. I'm adding two more mornings targeted at a few specific students for whom I want to target instruction more. I am also going to open up a lunch time for a few more students, students who are unable to access the morning help sessions. These extra help studies result in greater confidence, engagement, and success with study--it's worth the time.

Positive, healthy energy
Good teaching requires good energy, and good energy requires a healthy lifestyle. No teacher can be all or do all, and we have to make schedules that allow us to get plenty of rest, exercise, good nutrition, and time for relaxation and reflection in order to teach well. Every teacher has to make difficult choices about where and with whom they'll invest their time and energy--this is essential to good teaching and learning.

Lifelong Learning and Advocacy
To teach well requires that we consistently evolve our programs in ways that matter. This continual evolution requires a steady diet of professional learning. To gain positive professional learning, you first have to identify the areas where you need and want the most support. For me that relates to four areas of teaching and learning including math education, science education, social-emotional learning, and teacher leadership/communication. In each of those areas, I have essential questions that I am focused on including the following:

  • How do I foster math learning that is engaging, empowering, and successful? Learning that includes a variety of strategies and learning experiences from floor-to-ceiling explorations to online practice to individual support and whole class teaching.
  • How do I streamline science learning so that accessing materials, background information, and clean-up are a natural part of the routine leaving greater time and energy for the rich collaborative investigation, experiments, and exploration?
  • How do I create a teaching/learning environment that empowers students in ways that they can access the materials and learning venues they need and desire with confidence, enthusiasm, and strength? How do I create a supportive environment where students support one another with compassion, empathy, care, a sense of humor, and meaningful support? 
  • How do I hone my teacher leadership and communication skills so that I am supportive to my own goals as well as the goals of my colleagues and the school in general? How do I rightly and sensitively use my ability to advocate in my school system and elsewhere to best support optimal teaching and learning for all children?
How do you find adequate, positive time for reflection, the kind of time that empowers your ability to teach and learn well? When you reflect, what comes to the forefront of your thoughts--what takes priority and why? How do you act on your reflections, how do you translate your good thoughts and intentions into successful action? 

To reflect is essential when it comes to good living and good teaching, and the MLK weekend provides many of us with good time to do this.