Another hiatus of non-blogging finally broken thanks to the two week holiday break that I am currently basking in. While I love, love, LOVE to be busy and constantly have things to do, the three weeks leading up to winter break were rough and I was ready for a “brain break.”
Over the past two weeks I’ve had many exciting endeavors and events take place which is why I feel even more exhausted. We participated in Hour of Code through code.org and were fortunate enough to work with a talented computer scientist, Sakina. Each of our kiddos received an award for participating and overall it seemed that the whole school saw a great turnout. We also launched our class youtube channel which acts as both the platform for my classroom videos as well as the iSWAT News Channel, “News from the Nest.” You can check out our math screen casts and the debut of “News From the Nest” here.
The most exciting meeting that took place during this time was my second observation in math. If you’ve followed my blog in any capacity, you may have recognized my battle with the way our math program was set up in the classroom. My assistant principal was kind enough to set up my second observation for the same subject, math, so that he could provide me substantial feedback on things that have been changed within our format. Despite the fact that two of my kiddos got in a shouting match over seating preferences, very out of character for them, the observation went incredibly well and overall, my AP had lots of great things to compliment and also constructively criticize. He has a very special way of letting you know what you can work on and HOW you can get there. In addition, he has way of empowering you to continue to push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of, which is something that I am always looking to accomplish. I am so thankful for someone who is willing to sit with me and figure out ways that I can continue to grow and will push me as much as I push myself.
I am hopeful that through relationships, such as this one, that I can learn to help my students develop in this same demeanor both inside and outside of the classroom. I am constantly looking for ways to motivate my kiddos both internally and externally. I love studying the way students think and act and often reflect on myself and my learning history about how I was motivated. I have always been and will likely always be the student that wanted to go above and beyond. This attitude and ability is something that I am always looking for in others as well.
I mentioned the amazing Annie Forest in my previous blog post as someone who is forward thinking and always pushing herself and her students to do more. Before we left for break, Annie shared an incredible article with me about being a “marigold” and finding other marigolds amongst the people that you work with both directly and indirectly. I’d like to share the article with you here so that you may reference it and also use it to find the other marigolds amongst you. I’m hopeful that my kiddos can find their own “marigolds” and “runners” in their groups of peers and within me. Check out her blog using the hyperlink above to see where she’ll be speaking in the new year! Hopefully you can make it to one of her presentations. She’s something special!
As I’ve had a little bit of time over break to sit back and relax, the classroom never seems to escape my mind. As I participated in Twitter Chats and read holiday blog posts, I began to compile a virtual notebook using Evernote, or New Years Resolutions I’d like to achieve in my classroom. Two of my favorite ideas as of right now came from a Twitter Chat through @goFormative. If you don’t use Formative, I highly encourage you to check it out in the new year. The possibilities for use is endless and for those of us that like to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time, this is for you.
The reason I bring up Formative, is because two of my most prominent classroom resolutions involve assessment and CCSS aligned activities, as PARCC quickly approaches.
The first thing I’d like to try and achieve in my classroom came directly from a goFormative twitter chat and co-moderator Michelle Malone. She’s an assistant principal and full of ‘growth-mindset’ ideas. I was inspired during our last twitter chat when she stated that we should give the kiddos a standard and let them create. It’d be incredibly interesting to see the results of the formative assessments that they create and also collect data based on student created assessments. In addition to that, it gives students more accountability and responsibility of the content created and learned in the classroom.
I’d also like to try to develop an I Can checklist- either virtual or printed- prior to every unit so that students can keep track of their goals and pacing throughout a unit so they know in advance what they should be responsible for and what they need to achieve by the end of the unit. I think this has a lot of potential for both Standards Based Reporting and aligning Common Core into your classroom. I think I’ll try to create these for math prior to our unit of study first to see how it goes. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew by setting a goal of creating a checklist for every subject and every unit.
A personal goal I have for the new year is get back to my old exercising habits and healthy eating ways. It’s incredibly hard to make time for yourself, and I need to make sure that I am doing that and prioritizing my health in the new year. I was fortunate enough to find a #fitnessedu twitter chat and am hopeful that through participation in that every Sunday night that I can find some inspiration and healthy virtual buddies to keep me going and remember my goal!
As much as I am loving break, I have a very hard time relaxing knowing that I have things I could be doing looming over my head. I am constantly looking for ways to calm myself down and not think about school for just a second, but am still finding myself waking up at 5:30am just to check my Twitter or read an article that I’ve saved to my reading list. I’d love to hear any of your tips or tricks for relaxation and letting some of those anxieties go.
Hope all of the teachers out there are having a wonderful relaxing break. I’m excited for what this new year is going to bring and can’t believe that we are halfway through the year already. Crazy! Hope you had a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year!