Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reflection 4

Reflection Prompt:  Please use the attached summative rubric to self score on the five indicators included in Teacher Leadership (Ineffective,  Improvement Necessary, Effective, Highly Effective). Identify your strongest area with a brief explanation.  Identify which indicator you most need to  develop, the obstacle to your growth and how you can push through the obstacle. 

                                                             Teacher Leadership

              Indicator                                                                                            Self Score

3.1 Contribute to School Culture                                              (4) Highly Effective
3.2 Collaborate with Peers                                                        (3) Effective
3.3 Seek Professional Knowlege and Skills                              (3) Effective
3.4 Advocate for Student Success                                             (3) Effective
3.5 Engage Families for Student Learning                                (2) Improvement Necessary

My strongest area of Teacher Leadership is my contribution to school culture. I do seek out leadership roles when it comes to the school's mission and initiatives- especially where the students are concerned. I tend to work late working on school projects and teacher meetings. I also lend a lot of my school breaks and after school time to my students and peers.

The area I need the most development in is Engaging Families for Student Learning. I want to seek out more ways to engage parents. I could definately make more phone calls home and send letters to parents informing them of the up and coming lessons their children will be taught in my class.

My First Slump

Soooo..... I think I've actually hit my first "slump." I knew it was coming. In fact I felt it coming.

Let me explain...

At the beginning of the school year my mentors told me that the same feelings I had at the beginning of the school year would soon fade away because most of the adrenalin would wear off and reality would set in. But after a few more weeks I would get my momentum back. I believed them, but I didn't want to believe them because I was determined to be different from everyone else. Although I am not exempt from the realities of the classroom- especially urban ed- I still wanted to be that consistent adult in my students' lives that didn't give in to emotion.

Ever since fall break I've really been struggling to maintain a balance. I felt my enthusiasm and drive begin to dwindle down and I couldn't understand why. The more I reflect the more I see how this happens. Long story short, I'm TIRED. I see so many things that cause me to overthink and worry for my students- I just want to be so much to them. I want them to succeed so bad. I want them to rise above. I want them to grow and I want them to be the best they can be. I'm also concerned about meeting expectations and reaching goals that I just feel burnt out! I don't sleep during the week. I'm doing good to get a few hours a night. I toss and turn thinking about the simplest of things like a bell ringer or a transitioning technique and how I'm going to play it out for all of my students. I suppose even 5 cups of coffee in the morning can't sustain this.

There are a few highlighted lessons I've learned in the midst of this slump.

LESSON #1: Slacking on the grading scale may make you the popular teacher... but it WON"T prepare your students for success. Sometimes I worry about being fair and "nice." I want all of my students to get an A, but the truth is, not every student will put in the effort it takes to receive an A. Sticking to my high expectations is key and it will only help my students in the end.

LESSON #2: Disciplining doesn't make you mean just as ignoring bad behavior doesn't make you nice. I have a handful of students who don't appreciate the culture of the classroom and try to upset the atmosphere we have worked hard to create. But I've learned that ignorning those behavior issues, even the smallest of them, does NOT promote a healthy classroom.

Overall I'm learning day by day to let go and let God.  As a believer in Christ I have to daily come to center in Him to find center in myself. This is something that I need to learn all over again for this career. I'm learning to place my students, every single one with every single need, in His hands. That is when I become what they need because His wisdom, understanding and peace is ruler over my wacky emotions and fears. For this I am so thankful and blessed.

Pray for me as I pray for you!

I'm tired... but I'm still in the game!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reflection 3

Reflection Prompt: Think about how the pair/share group time (scholars discussing writing) could have been structured more intentionally in order to maximize work/learning time. As a follow up to our debrief, how did you follow up with your scholars the following day about why you provide for "talk time" and how to productively use it. (2.3, 2.7)

Reflecting back, I could have added more structure to the pair/share group time by providing guided questions for each group. Working without an inclusion teacher or tutor for that class period made it necessary for more planning in which I didn't consider. I'm learning along the way. But I do believe guided questions would have kept more of my students on task for the remainder of the class period, especially for students who tend to get off task easily.

The next day I opened the class up with a scholar talk in which we discussed the purpose of group writing. I used the proverb "iron sharpens iron" to effectively illustrate group work and the benefits thereof. I explained to them that writing with each other can strengthen the weaker areas that each student may have as they become strong. We also discussed that our strengths can enhance another scholar's abilities and make them become better writers.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Plugged In

While in the computer lab typing our personal narratives, I took notice to something. Before taking my class to the lab I clearly stated  my computer lab expectations. They were to walk quietly to the lab, have a seat, log on and begin working quietly on their typing. My first two class periods had a difficult time with this once they got settled in. Students were chatting with their neighbors, sneaking on game sites and fidgetting with irrelevant materials- completely restless as if being still and following directions was an impossible task. Even getting them to type in my desired font, font size and color was a challenge. They wanted to use anything and everything except Times New Roman, 12, black. It was as if they were offended I didn't allow them to mark up their papers with flourescent colors and flirty fonts.

This took a lot of redirecting and behavior monitoring to keep them on task. At one point I had to stop the entire class and explain again my expectations and the purpose of the assignment. After several attempts, the students finally got it together.

But something different took place with my last two classes.

As with the first couple of classes, I stated my expectations and got my students settled in the lab. This time when we walked in, the computer lab director had jazz playing over the speakers throughout the entire lab. My students were settled, focused and began working quickly. There was absolutely no talking, no fidgetting and the assignments were completed in record time. I sat back and watched this in amazement. What was it that hooked my students and kept them driven on the assignment?

It was the music.

It had them mentally satisfied and emotionally stimulated. The jazz riffs literally warped their concentration and turned them into lean mean writing machines. It's crazy how stimulated this generation of young people have become. Technology has not only become a commodity, but a necessity as well. Young people have mastered technology management far beyond my understanding. My students can tweet, update Facebook, Instagram, and surf the net all the while cuffing their ears with blaring  beats from Dr. Dre headphones. It amazes me and frightens me all at the same time. As a teacher it makes me reassess my strategies. Should I incorporate more technology- even more than what I allow? Or should I limit the use so that these stimulations aren't the only avenue in which they feel comfortable learning?

This challenges me...

because there is such a fine line between intentional technology use and social media play. Now, this isn't to say that I reject technology- I use several avenues every single day within my classroom. I try to mix it up a bit so that the students find learning fun, motivational and intriguing. But regardless of what I think, feel, or do, I have to acknowlege my qualitative observation because "it is what it is." If music and technological multi-tasking is keeps my students focused, perhaps I should let up a little.

Still pondering this... Interesting none the less.

Using technology to my advantage is a challenge but definately an option.