Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Traveling the teaching path 2019-2020

There is rarely a dull day in school. Every day is filled with new decisions, challenges, and opportunities. This energy-packed effort is one reason why I like teaching--I didn't like sitting at a desk all day in the business job I had before I became a teacher.

The challenge is to continually navigate the path in ways that contribute to your overall goals and craft as the new decisions, challenges, and opportunities arise.

Looking down the path, I see a many ways that I'll enrich the learning in the days ahead.

Math Teaching
We're reaching in to gain deep understanding of the divisibility rules and how to use those rules. We'll engage in a class math talk about this today, then practice playing a class Factor Game using our coded 100's chart as a helpful tool. Later this week, I'll review the use of Venn diagrams with children as we explore factors, multiples, and divisibility rules more, and after that we'll have our Factor Game tournament. Next week students will take a short divisibility rules quiz so I can assess what they've learned and we'll move onto learning about numerical expressions in many varied ways including the use of performance assessments--a collaborative approach including student creativity, expression, peer-to-peer editing, teacher-student editing, and presentation.

Science: Survival
Next week the team will spend our science/social studies days focused on portfolio work and more team building, and then the week after that, we'll begin our Survival series with a number of standards-based environmental science activities. I'll spend some time reviewing that unit of study in preparation for our Monday collegial meeting, Thursday's meeting with MA Audubon Drumlin Farm naturalists, the October 2nd online meeting with the DESE team that will work with us as we engage in a program evaluation pilot, and for our participation in Massachusetts' Department of Education Sharing for Success Dissemination Fair on October 8th.

Community Building
I continue to embed a number of SEL lessons from our team collection of SEL lessons and information. So far we've discussed resilience, team building, growth mindset, the history of skin, and the fact that no prejudice is allowed here. I will continue to embed these resources regularly to build students' capacity to learn in successful, student-centered, positive ways.

Read Aloud
The entire fifth grade has been reading, Hatchet, which serves as a great mentor text for discussing story elements, choosing just-right books, writing narratives, and our survival-themed standards based environmental science work.

Class Challenges
As with any class, there are always problems to solve and areas to improve. At present those challenges include the following:
  • Following the daily schedule. Most students are doing a great job with this, but some still need help and reminders.
  • Listening. I'm trying to do my part by not talking for too long or too much, and I'm working with students to do their part as positive, engaged, active listeners.
  • Staying on task: Again most students are staying on task with the learning efforts, but some still need a bit of coaching related to this.
  • Asking questions. I encourage students not to stay stuck and to ask questions instead. I'll continue to coach students in this way.
  • Respectful use of classroom materials: While some students are always respectful and helpful with regard to using classroom materials and cleaning up, others need more coaching.
  • Coverage issues: A few of our grade-level coverage issues need revisiting to make sure we have the best possible coverage routines--we'll attend to that as a team.
All in all, we're off to a great start. The challenges are typical challenges that most educators work at in day-to-day teaching. Onward.