Almost time for our first break. This last week feels especially long, and I’ve been wondering why.
One of the books I’ve been reading lately is the Handbook of Nature Study. There are a bunch of interesting quotations, here’s one:
I’m not really saying I feel like I know everything, but I wonder if I’ve been actually wondering anything lately. One of the ways I can refresh is just by reinstating my wonder, trying to be excited again. The book goes further to suggest that by spending unstructured time outside, we will be more refreshed.
Often as teachers we think seeing friends, going out, getting things done are important on our weekends, and they are. However, we need to spend some time just outside, looking, observing and getting ready to wonder again.
As our first break comes up, I’m going to take some time to get out and explore.
This week was full of learning. Our conferences with students and parents were on this week. I learned a lot about what their shared goals were, how the parents interacted with their kids, and it’s always interesting to see how the learners interact with their parents (and two teachers) around.
After that was PD. This year was pretty good, we had some exciting speakers, and I’m interested in seeing how I can apply more critical thinking into my classroom.
On the final day in the final session I presented the above slideshow. One of the exciting things about working in such a large school is that you don’t always know who will be in your presentation and that person’s job will be much different from yours (or sometimes the same).
I knew as a school we wanted to focus on assessment and how to record it in a meaningful way. I’ve been using forms for about four or five years to really show the depth of the conversations I have, and how that relates to learning or goals. I’ve embedded Victor Wooten’s video outlining the idea of economy of motion. At school we’re always trying to get so much done, but often we can do the many things in one or two motions, we just need to practice doing those motions.
Anyway, it was an interesting time, and I hope the participants had enough time to really work on what they needed to work on so their forms help students learn more effectively.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.