This week, I had my first official observation, in the subject that I hate the most, math. I was nervous, to say the least, for obvious reasons. I was mostly nervous in anticipation for what our assistant principal might say regarding the way our math workshop is set up. Since I have never done math in a “math workshop” format before, this year has certainly been an adjustment. Every school that I have worked at prior to this year, which of course is not many, had always taught in whole group format, sometimes utilizing the “flex group” method for math.
I do however love the method of teaching in small group and differentiating for various types of learners. As I’ve stated in other blog posts, I’ve really found my footing in reading for the most part, utilizing strategy groups to build up my readers, but am truly struggling to find helpful resources and quality professional development tools for math.
After my observation this week I was feeling really defeated as an educator. I wasn’t feeling defeated in my ability to get the point of the lesson across to my students or to keep them engaged while I was sitting with them, but I was feeling defeated in my structure and formatting of the lesson and overall student engagement while I am not with my students.
Fortunately, I work in a district that provides their teachers and teachers outside of the district with incredibly relevant professional developments that we can then utilize in our classroom. As a first year teacher, this has been extremely helpful and I was lucky enough to attend 3 this week alone. During my last PD this week I stumbled across a colleague who I have been following on Twitter since the start of the year. I was finally able to talk with, Ginny Burdett, a 4th grade teacher at a school in the district, regarding her math workshop. She was nice enough to take me into her classroom to model exactly what she does for her math workshop everyday. After our 45 minute conversation, my eyes were completely re-opened and my motivation skyrocketed. Her entire math workshop allows flexibility and differentiation for all types of learners on either side of the learning spectrum.
Having this experience with Ginny, and hearing from other teachers throughout the week at the Professional Developments made me realize that we really are each others best resource. I will only continue to learn and grow from watching others being successful in their practice.
Over the weekend, I completely re-modeled what I want math to look like in the classroom, based on the methods, tips and tricks that Ginny provided to me. I am anxious and excited to see this come to life tomorrow in the classroom, but certainly need to realize that this new learning will take a lot of time and modeling for the whole class. I have to be open to reformatting things that don’t work daily, and making this workshop format, fit my classroom of learners.
I will certainly be documenting, reflecting and changing lots of things throughout the week and am excited to share about my successes and failures with this new workshop format.
I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel that “together we are better.” I say that about my kids in my class and about teachers in the field. We need to band together and utilize each other. We are our best resource and need to embrace the changes that are taking place in education. Get in or get out!!!