Learning something new everyday!

Monday, August 27, 2012

My word....

As I'm sitting here (6am, coffee in hand) anticipating returning to the classroom today to set up and get ready for the new year, I'm thinking "What is one thing I'm going to do better this year?"

My word came quickly, almost too quickly that I brushed it off thinking its too obvious, but I kept coming back to it soooo....
Yes, I told you, obvious right?  Sometimes you just have to go with it! So here it is, my plan to get connected!

  1. Be a Connected Educator. This is where the obvious comes from because I just signed up to join this site a couple of weeks ago to continue making global connections with teachers and classrooms. I believe in sharing and learning from each other within your class, school, district, country and around the world. Twitter and this blog have been a large part of my quest to connect and I have learned much, but now I want to make this experience "real" for my students. It must improve student learning, not just my own.
  2. To connect with each student everyday. Maybe it will be an organized, purposeful method as Amy mentions here or something else, but to connect with each student everyday in a meaningful way letting them know I value them and they are important.
  3. To connect with parents. I plan to make use of the phone! I have read about the power of the positive call home here and from Matt here. I can imagine as a mom what that would feel like. Ultimately it gets back to the child. It is empowering for students! Yes, I will use the class blog, Twitter, and face to face interactions before and after school, but calling home is purposeful, individual, and I will reach every parent regardless of work schedule.
  4. My school is full of talented, wonderful teachers who do great things with kids. I need to connect with my own staff better. I am a busy mom as well as teacher and when my students go home my thoughts starting turning to my own kids and the pressure to get home in a timely manner is great, however, I would like to visit the rooms of my colleagues on a regular basis. I mean physically walk down the hall or down the stairs, or up the stairs to enter their rooms. I would like to see what they are doing, talk to them, encourage them, or get encouragement. I haven't been good at this, room for BIG improvement here!
  5. I want to make some new connections in my district too. I have trouble with this because I am comfortable watching and listening. I do these well! I was a quiet introverted child as I continue to be as an adult. I believe though, that I will benefit from stepping out to make face to face connections. Maybe at district workshops, sporting events or meetings. If I will encourage my students to do this, so should I!
Ok, it is in B&W so hold me accountable!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Preparing for a new year....

As our first day (Sept. 4) quickly approaches I've been asked many times, "Are you ready for a new year?" and "What do you do to get ready?".  The short answers are "No" and "Lots".

No, I'm not ready for a new year quite yet! While it is true that autumn is one of my favourite seasons, (as much for the fresh start and new relationships the start of school provides as for the weather, food, and clothing that comes with it),  I'm so enjoying carefree, flexible days of summer with my own kids. We do live in Canada after all so let's celebrate the seasons! During the school year I find myself pulled in so many directions I have a hard time maintaining a balance between my personal and professional life. I love teaching young children and feel passionate about being the best teacher I can be (as I do about being the best mom, wife, friend, daughter, Christian...I can be). For me, this means much reading, time to think, conversing with my PLN, more time to think, writing, and relaxing. When school ended this past June, it took me a couple of weeks to truly unwind. More than two full weeks of family vacation at the beach never felt so good! The faces of my students from this past year still seam so fresh in my mind however, I am beginning to feel that spark of anticipation and excitement  for Sepember and the new little faces.
Each is an original, never two the same.

Yes, I do lots in preparation for a new year!  I spent lots of time at the beginning of summer reading. I read both for pleasure  and for my profession. I have a large stack of great professional books I've collected recently. I read in the backyard with my kids, at the beach with my family and on the pool deck. My iPad has more books and articles as well.  The most engaging and applicable information I have found though, is via Twitter. Although I still consider myself a newbie to social media and to technology in general, I have jumped in and embraced a steep learning curve alongside my students. Here are some of the things I've been working on besides reading:

  • Signed up for Global Read Aloud.  We will be reading Charlotte's Web and collaborating with classes around the world in many ways. I have to familiarize myself with Edmodo and Skype.
  • Applied for and was accepted for a Flat Classrooms Project and opted to do a spring project.
  • Created a new "class" blog where I will be sharing with families and others as an extension  of the learning we do in class.
  • Worked on creating some Smartboard lessons as my Smartboard is new to me as of December this past year.
  • Collected supplies for my classroom.
  • Designed a new floor plan to make better use of the space and accommodate the new technology we have purchased.
  • Planned a couple of field trips.
  • I will be doing a few summer ProD sessions. One with my school on digital portfolios as well as Dr. Stuart Shanker's Self Regulation  and Fun Friends.
  • I enrolled in Fins Friends for the 2012/13 school year.
While I have done much in the way of preparation for the new year, most beneficial for me has been to relax and enjoy time with my family. I believe I can be a better teacher and more "in the moment" if I am relaxed and refreshed as only a summer vacation will do. So I will be making the most of the next couple of weeks (yes, I will go in to set up my classroom too)!