looking back to move forward

Sunday, June 28, 2015
I mentioned in my post about reflecting that I really wanted to take the time to think about what worked and what didn't; what supports my education beliefs and what doesn't; and think about moving in to the future.

This year I changed schools, and districts, just two weeks before school started. I am back at the school where I did part of my student teaching way back in the early 90's. The administration has changed, the school is no longer a magnet school (district did away with them a while back), and the population has shifted from 50/50. But I love it. It is home, and the level of support I have is amazing. So that said, I didn't have much time at the beginning of the year to set myself up like I have in years past. I got a lot done but there was a LOT of shove that under a shelf or cabinet and move on. I hope that as I reflect on what the future needs to look like, that much of the shelves and cabinets get cleaned out! Purge baby purge! (my hubs loves the movie the purge.... wonder what a teacher/ classroom clean out version would look like. Scary thought!)

So lets start with what worked... centers!
Yep I LOVE centers! I love creating students who become independent. No they are not perfect, yet. But this really is some of my favorite time during our day. I also LOVE writing!! And begging to be trusted so I could continue with writing first thing in the morning was the best decision I made this year. I also used a lot of what I learned about close reads. I still have some room to build but I saw where my kids grew using a complex text and discussion. Remember where I mentioned that oral language development is key to my beliefs about a classroom? Well Close Reads are where this is evident. When we discuss we get into a circle, me too, on the floor. We sit where we can see every one. We take turns and talk. We turn to our neighbor and talk, we talk across the circle, we build ideas on what someone else might have said.
Another area that seems to fall in to the "it works" category is my management system. This includes supplies and children. See the child in the picture above who has the tag with the bear? She is a table captain for the week. Her job is to get supplies for her table. We keep crayons and pencils on the table, but glue, scissors, and notebooks are kept elsewhere. Her job also includes getting papers and passing them out. I'll post more about my management this summer. I think that I have enough pictures to make it clear ;)

What didn't work?

We as humans don't like showing where we didn't succeed. But I am going to step out and share where I am going to be growing this next year. Math. Yep. Math was not what I wanted it to be. I'd been working at a school that did not have a math coach. I was able to structure math the way I wanted, and then I moved. Some days I felt like our math coach was more of a math general. I get what the goals were, but I was unsure of how to have open conversations with someone who had never seen me teach and I didn't have the relationship with to say "trust me! I am going to get them there." Also we have a text book series that really doesn't get the kids where they need to be. Not a lot of depth, so that caused issues.

I spent the year building the relationship that I needed to be able to say "um this isn't what my kids need, so I'm changing it and here is my classroom data to back me up".  Rebel much? not really, but I will fight to get my kiddos what they need, not what some curriculum map says we need. Also we are looking at changing our math time to first thing in the morning. I am really excited about that change and what it could bring to my teaching math.

With as much as I love to teach writing, this year was a disaster! Ok maybe not in anyone else eyes but in mine it was. Our writing block was at the very end of the day. I mean like 1:40-2:10 and we start dismissal at 2:15 kind of end of the day. That time wasn't horrible until you realized that we picked up from specials at 1:40 and they ALWAYS ran long or required more time than expected to get back and settled into writing. And if you are teaching the littlest of the littles you know, as well as I do,  that 5 minutes is NOT enough time to pack up to go home in an orderly fashion. Which leads me to my pet peeve and another "it didn't work" area of our day- dismissal!

UGH! Why oh why can't dismissal be orderly and quiet! For pete's sake we are GOING home! Dismissal procedure is something that I will be working on next year. And I already have some ideas on how this is going to change.

So there are the big picture pieces to my reflection. I hope to share here as I break them down and look more in-depth at each of these. Maybe I'll even take apart the day and look at each block through the lens of what worked and what didn't.

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