Monday, February 11, 2019

Don't Expect a Home Run on the First Hit

New learning and projects are frustrating. There's no way you can anticipate all the obstacles you'll face as you try something new. Yet if we stay in our comfort zone we won't get better--we have to reach.

I'm cognizant of this as I venture in a number of areas including floor-to-ceiling math explorations/projects, team-focus for hands-on science, and relationship building by trying out new structures within the day.

Floor-to-Ceiling Math
The stretch here can translate into visible frustration as I recognize the many needed teaching points and coaching opportunities during the midst of the project. Why didn't I plan for that, I think as one new need after another emerges. With each project, I'll get better at managing and supporting students in positive ways, but it will take time.

Relationship Building
Sometimes students need more of you than what's available. That's why I add extra help sessions throughout the week. Yet sometimes adding too many extra help sessions means you don't have the down time you need to finalize a lesson, complete paperwork, or take a few minutes to reflect on the day at hand. How do we best meet the needs of our students who need more of us? What can we do a a whole school to better accommodate these students. In many cases these are students from loving homes, but homes that can't provide academic coaching and support for a large range of reasons. I know that students will learn more and better if we can fill in these gaps, yet a teacher can only stretch so far before they're at the breaking point. I'll keep thinking and trying out different ways to remedy this.

Teamwork and Science
A recent effort demonstrated that our students, in general, will profit from greater practice, explicit teaching, and coaching with regard to working as successful teams. Our relatively new science projects and explorations offer a perfect venue for this. This takes teamwork on behalf of the teachers too with regard to sharing ideas, building in good time, mapping out the projects, and preparing the learning environment, materials, and lessons to carry out this work. Again, we're steadily working at this, and it's a matter of time to get us where we hope to be.

All three of these initiatives are valuable. Research supports these efforts as does a simple read of the newspaper or look around. With an ever increasingly interdependent and technologically savvy society, it's a no brainer that people have to learn to be good team members and they need to learn and understand a lot about the broad world of science.

I have to remind myself that when you get up to bat for the first time, it's unlikely that you'll hit a home run. Like batting, good teaching requires lots of good practice and study. These efforts are good goals, goals that demand time and team to achieve. Onward.