Exploring the brain

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We’re looking into the brain right now in class. The students started exploring google expeditions and the brain tours are really interesting. Students were able to zoom into the brain, check out inside parts of it, explore the central nervous system and just get a really good understanding of the different parts by seeing the connections.

I was wondering about the different ways we could “see” the brain to tune us in, and I hadn’t used google expeditions before so wanted to try it out.

My main dilemma was whether to guide them or not. I chose to let them explore. I feel they learned a lot more this way, because they had the opportunity to see what they wanted when they wanted and explore a little more deeply into the ideas that connected to them.

 

How is it connected?

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As a class we’ve been looking at connection in our brain unit. Last night was our parent curriculum night. I’m a team lead with seven new teachers on my team (including myself).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to support my learners, my parents and my colleagues and wondering how all of these things are connected.

I’m not sure, but it seems like in previous years I’ve been pushing myself to help in some way, or be present or be something. This year I’m trying (rather unsuccessfully) to listen and just make sure other people are heard.

Parents want the best for their kids (so do I, but it’s not really about me), so last night I tried to listen, and be available for the real worries the parents feel. I tried to support my team by acknowledging and listening about stressful situations, because they are real and time consuming and at times encompassing. I try to listen to what my students are actually saying, to see how they see connections, without me trying to put too much of my voice in their work.

I think a lot of teaching is about making others better, not really taking part in the process, but encouraging and suggesting and at times teaching specific skills, but only when the students really ask, and really need the help.

I think it’s probably the same with parents and team mates, the more I work on making them better (and the better they want to be, not necessarily the better I want them to be) the more likely they will achieve success.

It’s hard though. Stepping back, removing my self and trying to just focus on other’s needs.  It’s hard not to take some things personally, it’s hard to just get things done on my own, my work, my study, my life. But I think it will become easier, at least that’s my hope.

First week

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Wow, the beginning of the school year flew by.  The first week is over (almost) and the real fun is just starting.

This week I tried to focus on making good relationships, with my team and my kids. I really believe that this will set the whole year up for success. If we trust each other and believe in each other we can work things out together and with each other in mind.

Maybe more cynically I’ve been reading and listening about how people make decisions, and for good or ill, we make them based on our identity and usually our identity revolving how we see ourselves in a group.

If this is true then we need to make sure our group feels cohesive. We need to make sure we feel united so our decisions reflect how we can best work together. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s been a good start.

First days

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First week of new staff at school. It’s amazing the things you forget, the things that become ordinary, the things we somehow don’t know but should, and the way we normalise our work lives.

I’ve been getting a lot of great questions, about the hows and whys of school, not just the whats which is really exciting. It’s good to be back in the flow of things, good to be writing, and pushing thoughts and just reconnecting with the lit review writing too. Still need a lot more to go, but feeling really confident this year, and happy to be working on getting some great things done in the fifth grade.

Hoping the next couple weeks continue being great.

Building a community

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This week, based on heaps of meetings, and one more coming up, I’ve been thinking about how best to form engaged communities of practice. I’m wondering how and why we share things with others (or maybe even do we share with others). If we are sharing, what benefits does it bring us, does it limit us in any way?

As our teams change and adapt to new situations, I’m wondering how we can get the best out of each person.  When we empower people (even if they might not want to be empowered) how do we get them leading effectively?

As we’re forming a new grade 5 team this upcoming year, I’m wondering about the first steps. How do we get there as a team, how do we as individuals know what we want to share?

I’ve been reading all over the place lately (which isn’t good for my doctoral research) some Adam Grant, some curriculum design, some IB material, and I’m wondering how we can get people from the team effectively leading in areas they may not feel supremely comfortable in.

I still have a feeling it’s about really knowing the person and helping them be their best, and trusting them with the process, but is there a way I can help them with specific skills first (or is that even necessary).

Anyway, been thinking a lot about August.

This is one of my saddest year ends in six years. Having this group of kids has helped me really love teaching again (I’ve been out of traditional classroom teaching for maybe six years). But it’s made me a little sad about the upcoming holiday. I’m going to miss them.

End of the year

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As the year wraps up we are enjoying the harvest (I guess) of our work all year. We’ve sown a lot of seeds, planted a lot of ideas, and now we are celebrating what has come of our hard work.

This year (my first back in the classroom in five years) has been really rewarding. I’ve loved being with a small community of students (instead of the 1000 or so I usually work with) and it’s been great growing and working with them.

As this year is coming to an end, and a new year, in a different grade level, and a slightly different role start to take shape, I’m really wondering about how teams grow.

We’ve (some of the school leaders for next year) recently attended a leadership workshop. It’s been great getting to know people in a similar position, but also just having a whole school approach to how we grow together. I’m thinking about how I can best apply my learning for next year, and what that means for the future teams I’ll be a part of.

My biggest take away is that hierarchy can be good. I’ve always kind of resisted that type of leadership, but after this meeting, I’ve come to better understand the benefits that a hierarchy can provide. We don’t want to be purely hierarchical, but knowing when and how to establish authority and then swing back towards a more dynamic form of work relationships is something I really look forward to trying to implement.

Working in teams

IMG20170913085153So I’ve still been really focused on what it means to work on a team or group. I’m more or less planning for next year and how I can help my team be a little more group oriented.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of developing team identity and what that means. Senge was big in organizational development earlier in my educational career, and now I’m wondering about how best to work with a small team in a big organization. What does that mean, how do we develop identity and how can we work with our team to make a difference in our team.

I think first for us is identity development. Not just grade level, but actually understanding who we are as individuals and what that means for us as a group. What do we really know about each other, how can we bring about bigger change as a group, seeing ourselves as part of a bigger whole? I’m not really sure of everything just yet but that’s my plan.

Adam Grant’s give and take is also going to be a part of my summer reading, trying to get things moving for a more successful team. We’ll see how it goes.