Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nine for Nine

As I'm savoring the last few weeks of summer break, I'm looking ahead to year nine.  Yikes, nine?  Sigh!

Last year I had the most amazing year with thirty six fifth graders.  We had some bumps in the road, but overall, I had amazingly supportive families and loved co-teaching with Ms. S for PBL (project based learning).  We tried curriculum units with moderate success (the timing, planning, and copying was more intense than we anticipated).  I had a lot of fun with my students, they learned a lot, and I'm proud of the work we did.

I've enjoyed my summer.  I tackled some craft projects, crafted, napped, vacationed, saw friends, and read books.  

But now it's time to look ahead to the 2017-2018 school year.  I've got my bulletin board ideas mapped out (thank you Pinterest) and will ease into the school year by headed back early.  (More information about my super short summer and decision to return early is found {here}.
In honor of year nine, I've decided on the following goals:

1) Have a clean desk on a more consistent basis.  Read more about my struggle {here}.

2) Continue with my {teacher instagram} account.  

I had great success with class dojo last year, but I want to step out a little more and use social media to create more of a classroom environment.

The idea was inspired by Your School Rocks, So Tell People! and approved by my administration.  It wasn't approved so much as I texted my principal that I was going to do it and wanted to make sure they were in the loop. In my opinion, it's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission.  

I then recommended the book to her and let her borrow it, so she's able to see the rationale behind it.  To be fair, I've got an amazing principal who encourages us to take risks and try new things.  She doesn't micromanage (which is good, I need freedom and creative opportunities to be successful).  As long as she is told the "why" or purpose behind the action, she tends to be on board.

So my purpose for a teacher Instagram account? To share the awesome things my students are doing with the outside world.  I'll continue to use class dojo for close up face pictures of my students, but post the artistic (non FERPA violating) pictures on my teacher account.  That way aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc can still see all the things my kiddos are up to.  

I will also use this as a forum to post inspirational messages.  I have friends that battle with depression, so seeing supportive messages may help.

Read my thoughts on the book {here}.

3.  Provide more prompt feedback with writing tasks...maybe.

I'm not supposed to say it...but I hate grading writing.  I'd rather do literally anything else.  In fact this is how I feel about grading writing:

Hopefully it'll be better in third.  There won't be as many essays to grade.  They won't be as long. I can give smaller, more frequent assignments and focus more on the mechanics of writing instruction.

With smaller assignments, I can (theoretically) grade them faster and provide faster feedback.  Fingers crossed!

On a side note, I totally bribe myself with Panera when I'm grading writing.

I am not ashamed.

4. I want to take a more active role with community involvement this year.  I went to most of the social events last year, but only the girls' soccer games.  I'd like to be more prevalent at school events.  This will go hand in hand with our school's new house system, based on the Ron Clark Academy.  

As a member of the Reveur house, I'll be bonding with not only  my own students, but kiddos across the school. 

(More on the RCA {here}.  Fair warning, it's a long post and Ron Clark information is at the end.)

5. Provide my students with more computer time.  One of the benefits of being in the pod is that computers are right outside our door.  Third grade will also be the first time my students take standardized testing on the computers, so I want to give them ample opportunities to be familiar with computers.

6. This one is a little tricky for me.  I want to collaborate with my grade level, but not do all the work.  This balance is something I've struggled with my whole teaching career.  I want things done right for the benefit of my students, but I don't want to do everyone's work.  This commitment to excellence means sometimes I pull more than my fair share of the weight. I want to learn the new curriculum, continue to build my {TpT store}, collaborate with new team members but not be taken advantage of.  

7. Along with goal six is setting limits.  Last year, I sold all of my preps to be a Read by 3 strategist. I loved getting into classrooms and mentoring new teachers.  It also meant I needed to juggle a lot and be flexible with when other teachers wanted to meet and discuss classroom events.  While my contract time is 8:26-3:36, I unofficially made my work hours 7:10-4:45.  Living close to school means I was home by five and left work at work (most of the time).  I'd like to keep to that schedule this year, even though I'm still in limbo if we will have Read by 3 again.  We're waiting on funding from the state to determine if I'll be a teacher/strategist again this year.

8. Continue to build up my PLN (professional learning network) with twitter chats (specifically #TLAP on Mondays), blogging, Instagram, book chats, and the DEN on facebook.  My husband loves me, but he really doesn't want to sit around discussing teacher philosophies and classroom ideas.  (To be fair, I don't want to engage in an in-depth analysis of his fantasy baseball stats or how his latest round of video games went.  We stick to the highlights.)  I've got a stack of books to read, 4 of them being related to teaching (and one being for our honeymoon plane ride):

I'm excited to implement Ron Clark Academy principles in the classroom.  I'm excited to learn more about Google Classroom.  I'm excited to try to create video updates (another idea from Your School Rocks) instead of (boring) paper newsletters.

9. Be open to change.

What are you looking forward to this year?

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