Those of you that know me, know that this past year has been a difficult one for many reasons. By the end of the school year, I was running on empty.
I start this school year with a reflection about "What I know" as an educator.
What I know #1: An important question is: Are you okay?
Are my students okay? Are my coworkers okay? Am I okay?
When I first started teaching, well-being was important, however it was often second to deadlines and performance. I have a tendency to push myself and therefore those around me.
I think my time as a school librarian gave me time to connect with students and staff in a different way and therefore changed my approach with others in my school community. Nothing gets done if you aren't okay.
If students aren't feeling safe, learning doesn't happen. If they don't trust, learning doesn't happen. If you don't connect with other educators in your building, learning doesn't happen.
What I know #2: We need to put the mask on ourselves first...
Funny enough, as a person who has HUGE flight anxiety, I am going to use the oxygen mask metaphor.
When the cabin loses pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
I must always take care of myself, and as an extension, my family, my teaching partner and my students first, before I jump into other commitments.
What I know #3: I love to open the door...
Literally and virtually, I am a firm believer in sharing - for free.
Don't get me wrong, if you sell your stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers go nuts! I'll even buy your stuff! No judgement here.
I LITERALLY love having people in my classroom, so come for a visit. See what I am doing, give me ideas and feedback. I not an expert, I am a teacher and I want to learn, change and grow. JUST SEND ME AN EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see if we can arrange an opportunity for us to connect.
I LITERALLY love sharing docs online...I only ask that you tell someone where you got the idea...and if you make it better, please share it back! WE HAVE MORE BRAIN POWER TOGETHER.
I love sharing my practice & classroom VIRTUALLY on my blog, on my personal twitter account @Melissa_Roth and our classroom account @Gr5_6TEPS
My teaching partner and I use the class twitter account to connect and create a window into our daily classroom activities. We have all parents and guardians complete an Online Sharing Permission Form, even though our school has a Media Release form that covers many of these things. We feel that it is important to ensure our families understand how we will use social media and online connections throughout the school year.
Credit to Kathy Cassidy, a primary teacher from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for inspiring me to create this form. The "For Safety & Privacy" box is based on the structure she used in her Gr.1 classroom at the time I saw her present at the CONNECT conference in Niagara Falls in 2013.
What I know #4: There is not only ONE way...
There is not ONE piece of technology that is the "fix all". There is not ONE teaching strategy that will work. You need to have a bunch of tools in your kit, to pull from throughout the school year, so that you can meet the needs of each student and each task.
I find that I am getting ideas from people everywhere, but I have trouble remembering what they are called or where to find a particular tech resource. For that reason, I created a working document that is linked to this blog. Feel free to add to Online apps and Tools for Learning 2018. You will notice the document allows anyone to edit.
What I know #5: Every Kid is a Puzzle...
When I work with students I try to figure out what they need as a person and a learner. I am their teacher, not their friend. I know that they need clear expectations and boundaries (don't we all), but I also know they are unique.
How do they read and break down words? How do they see themselves? How do they deconstruct a math question? How can I make them feel comfortable and accepted?
How can I figure out how each student learns and share it with them, to help them take ownership of their learning journey?
Happy September. Thanks for reading & I hope we can connect.
P.S. Below is my classroom door. Which, ironically in this picture, is literally closed, but figuratively open.
I can't take credit for the decorations, as it is something I saw recreated multiple times online. Unfortunately, I can't give credit to the original creator...but if it was you, I love it! Let me know, so I can give YOU the credit for this awesome message.
I think one of the things that I needed to recognize as an educator, is that it is okay to say "woah" , "slow down" , "give me a minute here"...as long as you are moving forward. When I come to technology conferences like #BIT17 I feel a mixture of things.
Sometimes I am inspired, excited and ready to jump in...other times I feel overwhelmed. I'm not typically overwhelmed by the technology, but more so by they possibilities they present. There is never enough time! How can I possibly present all of these opportunities to my students...in 1 year no less? How do I accomplish all of these things and teach curriculum, assess students, identify needs, help my struggling learners, meet with parents, write reports, run extra-curriculars, etc, etc, etc,....
I believe the answer is to take what you can and try something new. Keep moving forward. Recognize where you are and where you want to be. Set small goals and take small steps forward.
Right now, #STEM is new learning for myself & my teaching partner. This year we decided to devote 1 period per week to doing #STEM rotations. Is it smooth? No. Have there been issues and growing pains? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
Here are the rotations we have created...is there something better out there? Absolutely. I just wanted to share an example of how a couple of regular classroom teachers are trying to make a go of it. Perhaps you might get some ideas about things you would like to try:
STEM ROTATIONS - GR.5/6
STEM CHALLENGE CARDS
Check out my presentation about our
WELCOME to my blog!
Please follow along on my journey. I am an Ontario elementary school teacher who loves to learn new things! I love to share, collaborate and learn from others, so please keep in touch!