I was recently shopping at an on-line marketplace that has "Everything from A to Z". A few days later I realized that I had forgotten an item that I needed to purchase so I returned to the site to make my selection. Upon logging in and beginning my shopping, I noticed that, as always, the bottom of the screen was displaying items they believed I may be interested in buying based on my previous purchase history. It dawned on me that this was a formative assessment process much like the ones we strive to implement with our students. Just like this marketplace, I seek to collect meaningful information about my students, through the use of formative assessments, to inform me which path to take with each learner.
Obviously it isn’t just the education world that has keyed in on the value of using these types of assessment processes. This marketplace has found a way to collect the data they wish to analyze. As an educator, I need multiple ways to collect and assess data on my students. In conversing with colleagues throughout our district in regards to formative assessments, there two main ideas that keep bubbling to the surface: 1) wanting clarity around what a formative assessment does and does not do and 2) examples of quick and simple formative assessments. Let’s first take a quick look at what a formative assessment does and does not do. Here are some of the basics:
A much more extensive list could likely be compiled, however, when creating or identifying a formative assessment, this chart provides a satisfactory amount of tips to guide my decision making. With this knowledge in mind, let’s look at some examples of quick and simple formative assessment ideas. These ideas can be adapted from the format presented to better meet the needs, age, or ability of the learns you teach.
-Formative Assessment Ideas-
Have students make a two sided chart stating what they do and do not understand. Students can be given a time limit to write, a number of items to include on each side of the chart, or asked to free write until they feel they are done.
Students are given 3 minutes to explain to you 1 new thing they learned from the lesson. You could give students more or less time to complete this activity. Students could also do a drawing to show their learning instead of writing a response.
Using this method, students are not given a specific method to communicate their learning back to you. Instead, you say to the student, “prove to me you understand” in any manner they choose to communicate it.
Metacognition allows for students to process what they did in class and why it was done. At the end of class, have students complete a table similar to the one below. Students could discuss their answers to these questions instead of writing them down.
Place a piece of paper or whiteboard (or use a technology app) in the center of a table and have numerous students respond to a prompt/question at the same time.
Have students draw/diagram what they understand instead of writing it.
Check for Transfer
Check to make sure your students are able to transfer a concept from one domain to another. This could take a variety of forms. For example, can they identify a climax in a short story, a novel, a movie, and an advertisement?
This is similar to checking for transfer. Have students build/create something that requires them to apply what they have learned.
Write It Down
Have students write down an explanation of what they understand. Read these explanations to help inform your instruction, and write comments on them (or discuss them with the student) to give them feedback.
Have students list 3 things they think another student might misunderstand about the topic.
Have students write a postcard as a historical figure to another historical figure discussing and describing a historical event.
To check for understanding, ask students to write three different summaries:
One in 10-15 words
One in 30-50 words
One in 75-100 words
The different lengths require different attention to details.
Used for a pre-assessment, student self-assessment and even as an exit slip. Green = I know this; Yellow = I may know this OR I partially know this; Red = I don’t know this. You can do this before a topic, during a topic and right after the topic.
Students hold an index card (that has a red circle on one side and a green circle on the other) in front of them where you can see it. As they are following along with you and understanding, they show the green circle side. When they miss some information, need clarification, or don’t understand, they turn it to show you the red circle.
Create a Video
Students create short videos or screen-casts where they explain their reasoning. You can then watch what they create and see what they are able to explain, what they omit, and what they may not understand.
Photo to Assess Learning
Choose two or three photos that represent a process. Have students write captions for each photo followed by a short summary.
As you look through the ideas, note that many of them contain little to no preparation, or need to only be prepped before the first time they are used and may then be used repeatedly. These are just a handful of ideas that are out there. For additional ideas, check out Tools for Formative Assessment and Formative Assessment Strategies.
With all the options for ways to formatively assess students, be careful not to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice. Select one or two new methods to implement as a place to start. As you become more and more comfortable with the assessments you are using, slowly add new ones to your tool kit. Before you know it, you will have a multitude of options to select from as you work with differing groups of students. Most importantly, remember that just as the marketplace from the beginning of my story uses a formative process to encourage & sustain my buying and spending habits, our formative assessments should encourage & sustain our students engagement in their learning.
This post brought to you by Rebecca Mecikalski, Elementary Implementation Associate
Well, we are officially rolling with the school year! The new supplies are in their places, new routines are being solidified, and classrooms are buzzing with new learning. We’ve introduced ourselves to our students and had them introduce themselves to us. There have been all sorts of ice breakers and “get to know you” activities. We know that this student loves dogs, this other one loves to dance, another one loves music, and this one over here loves to read science fiction. Our traditional “get to know you” activities are really great tools to gather information about our students. We talk about them a lot at the beginning of the year, but I’m proposing we DON’T stop doing them once the shine wears off of those new school supplies.
This time of year, when I reflect on the different ways we get to know our students after the first few days of school, I often think of my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Anderson. Our first assignment of the year was to write our own obituary (yeah…super morbid, right?). I wrote the required one page of “She was loved by her family…” “She was preceded in death by…” “She did this and that…”. I turned it in and a few days later, it came back to me, dripping in red ink. I was convinced I had completely failed. As I started to read the comments on my paper though, my anxiety lifted. All along the margins, I read comments like, “No way! Your grandpa was my bus driver when I was a kid!” and “Your cousin is my best friend!”. Awkward and anxious me suddenly knew I had someone in my corner. Mr. Anderson was making connections with me that went beyond my favorite color or which sports I play, and I suddenly cared much more about my English class than I ever imagined I would. Throughout the year in that English class, every writing assignment came back with Mr. Anderson’s commentary along the margins, forcing me to rethink my thesis or supporting arguments, or cracking a joke about a silly spelling error. Every once in a while, I would find a post it on my desk, introducing me to authors like Jane Smiley or Toni Morrison (who is, to this day, my favorite). Mr. Anderson had taken the time throughout the year to get to know me both as a learner and as a person who had a life outside of his classroom.
This year, you are going to hear a lot about the district’s continued work around culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices, or CLR. We know we need to think about culture and bias. We know how important it is to understand who our students are culturally and the cultural nuances they bring to our classrooms every day. That is why I’d like to provide a few “get to know you” strategies that can be used throughout the year, multiple times, to continue to build relationships and connections with your students and get to know them as cultural beings.
- Six Word Memoir -
Invite students to reflect on how they see themselves; as learners, as third graders, as members of the community or members of their families, etc. The options are endless. Then, have them summarize themselves in 6 words. For example, here is one of my own: Farm girl, city girl, indecisive girl.
The beauty of this strategy is that is can be used multiple times throughout the year. As students feel more and more comfortable, watch their memoirs change. For more examples, look here.
- Group It -
This one is quick, fun, AND it gets students moving around the room. (CLR strategy, yo!)
Round one: Choose a category (such as favorite colors) and tell students to divide themselves into only 4 groups. The students have to work together to determine which 4 colors will be represented. Those whose favorite may not be listed will have to get creative about which group they will belong to.
Round two: Tell students they will now have to divide themselves into 3 groups. Give them another category. Again, students will have to work together and get creative to determine how they will group themselves.
Round three: Now tell students they will have to divide into only 2 groups. Give them a category and let them decide how to split themselves.
This activity helps students find commonalities and make connections with their classmates. They also have to practice problem solving and language skills while they communicate with you and their classmates. You can make the categories more or less complex, depending on your students.
- Walk and Talk -
Pose a question to your students and have them pair up with a classmate (or the teacher) and go on a short walk around the school to discuss the question. You could do this as often as you’d like, having students pair up with someone new each time.
This activity is so versatile. You can use it as a “get to know you” activity or you can have students reflect on class content. Once again, the options are endless. If you need help thinking of questions, check out this website.
Getting to know our students never really ends and when they know we care about them beyond our classroom, they are more likely to be present and stay engaged, well beyond their days with us. We are all on this journey together and even small steps, like making connections with our students, can help pave our way to more meaningful connections and deeper learning. If you would like more ideas, or if you have any you would like to share, please email me any time!
Greetings from the new kid up on the third floor of the Edison building. While I have been here before, it was not in this role.
This fall, I’m starting my twenty-sixth year with the Rochester Public Schools. I’m very committed to the students, teachers, and parents in this district--I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I have lived in Rochester for thirty years and my children, Ian and Makayla, are both graduates of RPS.
In my time with RPS, I have worn many different hats:
And now, here I am: proud to be the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction! I have learned a lot in the short time I have been in this role, while many other things have been affirmed for me as well. I know we have the most dedicated and hard-working staff around. Just like our students, all of our staff members want to do their best each and every day and I’m going to work hard to get our staff the tools needed to do their jobs and remove barriers that get in their way. I loved being a teacher; yet, I will never forget how challenging a job that is. It’s deeply rewarding, while not being easy. The good news is: our teachers don’t have to do it alone! They are surrounded by team members in their buildings, across the district, and here at Edison.
Student success depends on us, so let’s work together to do this work that is important to our district, our community, and our world.
This post brought to you by Brenda Wichmann, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Feel free to connect with Wichmann via email
As we get settled in to a new school year, there are many lists forming in our minds of all the things we need to do: planning engaging lessons, room setup, forming relationships with our students, getting to know our families and so much more. Often times the thought of school safety is overlooked at the beginning of the year due to everything else you have going on. As you think about preparing your students for a successful year, remember the importance of school safety and the critical role we play as educators in keeping our students safe in any kind of emergency. Scott Sherden, Executive Director of Operations, works hard every year with building principals to prepare our sites for many different safety and security scenarios. Below is an interview with Mr. Sherden that includes some of the most frequently asked questions by staff.
Please share your name and your role here in Rochester Public Schools.
Scott Sherden. I am the Executive Director of Operations and I oversee District Security, Transportation, Health and Safety, Construction Services, Facilities and Maintenance.
Sometimes I hear the term lockdown in my school or on the news but we are also using the terms run, hide and barricade during school drills. Can you explain the differences between these?
We have updated our Crisis Plans to modify the use of the terms “Lockdown” and also address the “run, hide, barricade” connotations. The options we use for active threat responses are termed “ABC” which means Avoid (run/evacuate), Barricade (lockdown, hide) or Counter (distract). Each active threat is different and may require different responses depending on where you are in relation to the threat. You may still hear the term “lockdown” used over the PA system but we have gone to “straight talk” which means that Admin is to give information as to what is occurring and what options are available so staff can assess their location to the incident and decide their course of action. An example of an announcement may be “Attention Students and Staff, this is Principal Jones. We have an active shooter in the north wing on the first floor. Staff need to assess and respond appropriately. This may include evacuation or lockdown/barricade.”
Lockdowns may also still be used when an event is occurring in the school such as a medical event or an event in the immediate neighborhood and the intent is to have staff and students remain in their classroom and continue teaching but refrain from leaving the building or other areas without permission from site Admin.
Are we required by law to have lockdown drills or is this something that Rochester Public Schools is requiring?
Minnesota Statutes require all schools to conduct five lockdown drills annually.
I am a kindergarten teacher and often I worry about having these discussions with my students in my classroom because I am afraid it will scare them. Is it really necessary for me to do these drills? If so, what tips do you have for me?
We feel it is imperative to practice these drills but as follow up afterwards, use them as an opportunity to foster discussion with your students. Having an open, meaningful and appropriate dialog and discussion with the students to talk through potential situations can reduce their anxiety. By having these discussions beforehand it will increase the likelihood of appropriate response in a real situation and promote the safety and security of the students.
My building principal is leading our building to practice different safety drills throughout the year but never tells me exactly what to do during these drills. Why don’t they just tell me what to do?
It is not normally possible for a building administrator to provide individually detailed directions in an active threat situation. We encourage our Admin to utilize “straight talk” in providing information about events that require a response from staff and students. In some situations the information may be very direct in describing the course of action that is needed but in most situations it is not possible. Every situation provides different circumstances that need to be assessed individually by staff members when deciding what action to take. For example if the information broadcast is “We have an active shooter in the north wing on the first floor. Staff need to assess and respond appropriately. This may include evacuation or lockdown/barricade” then staff need to have the autonomy to decide on the course of action to take based on their proximity to the threat. In this case, if their classroom is in the north wing on the second floor then their decision may be to “Barricade” (lockdown/hide) in their room. If their classroom is on the south wing on the first floor then their decision may be to Avoid (run, evacuate). This is why it is imperative that all staff members are familiar with their site crisis plan and practice responses for different types of incidents.
If there is a major event that happens at my school where police officers are called to my site, what are some things that I can expect?
The police officers, along with the firefighters and paramedics that respond to incidents at schools all have the safety and security of students and staff as their highest priority. It is important to remember that they may be responding to a situation with very limited information. In some situations, such as an active threat, they may be carrying rifles or other tools and be giving direction to staff or students to “move in single file lines with hands on the heads”. This can be disturbing to many staff and students but it is done to promote the safety of all individuals. In all major event situations it is important to follow the directions of first responders which will facilitate a more timely resolution to the event and hopefully prevent any further harm or disruption.
In the event that I have to leave my building in an emergency and go to my evacuation site, what does the reunification process look like? Will my building have any support from the district offices?
The crisis plan for each building contains their expected reunification process. All sites should communicate to the guardians of their students as to what their process is expected to be in case of an event. This communication should include the location of where the parents are to report to pick up their student and the process they need to follow once they are at the evacuation site. The reunification is normally a “hand to hand” exchange once the identity of the guardian is confirmed by staff so this process may take significant time.
The District has an emergency notification system in place that notifies a group of District administrators of an emergency at a building. Once notification is received, depending on the event, appropriate support is sent to the site. This support may include staff from the District office, transportation services, facility services and may even include staff from other school buildings as well.
So as you are getting started in your classrooms for the new school year, don’t forget to review your site’s safety procedures and plans with your students. It is our job to educate them on how to stay safe and react to different scenarios. Don’t forget that you are not alone in this. Ask any questions you have! We are here to support you! We hope you have a safe, fun and successful school year!
This post brought to you by Kate Palmquist, POSA overseeing Elementary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
My very first job was in Mrs. Morris’ first grade classroom at Lindbergh Elementary School. Mrs. Morris gave me the best job of all -cleaning the chalkboard erasers! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go outside for two minutes, bang the erasers together, watch the cloud of dust go up in the air, and wait until it lessened to know when they were officially “clean”. Looking back, that probably was not the cleanest job, but it gave me a small sense of purpose and leadership that I longed for in the classroom.
As a teacher, I want my students to have that same feeling of purpose and leadership in my classroom. When I was at an elementary school, I had the privilege to provide a group of students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills through running a school store. Students had to complete an application and go through an interview. Seeing these students feel empowered at their interview as they answered questions such as “what has been your proudest moment this year” or “how would working at the school store help you achieve your goals” made me smile. These interviews provided them a time to talk about themselves and let them dream of their future. Students received training in their job duties and then mentored the “new employees”. I witnessed these students transfer their leadership skills back into the classroom and with their peers.
Creating student leadership opportunities in the classroom can also assist teachers in the daily struggle of juggling all the daily tasks. These opportunities provide students a sense of purpose, belonging, and leadership all while helping you maintain your sanity throughout the course of the day.
Here are leadership opportunities you may want to consider implementing into your classroom:
Are you ready to launch leadership opportunities in your classroom? Try these tips and tricks to help you get started:
Take a minute to check out the video below to see student workers in action!
If you would like more ideas or to help you implement some classroom leadership opportunities, please feel free to reach out to me anytime!
This post brought to you by Katie Miller, K-12 EL Implementation Associate
There is no sugar coating it, implementing anything new, including new curriculum, in the first few years can be a challenging and stressful time for teachers. Statistics tell us that if you have been teaching for at least three years you have probably been a part of a new curriculum implementation. So, whether you are implementing a new idea, a new approach or a new curriculum, here are some tips to help you along as you begin this journey.
1. Approach it with a Growth Mindset
If we chose to approach a challenge as an opportunity to improve our instruction and have a greater impact on student learning that, in the end, is what is most likely to happen. A collective belief of an entire staff in their ability to positively affect students is called Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE). In his most recent publication, John Hattie cites Collect Teacher Efficacy as having the greatest affect size or positive impact on student success. Individual belief is good, a common shared belief is even better. Believe you can achieve, and you will. Believe you will fail, and you will.
"We all do better when we all do better." – Sen. Paul Wellstone
2. Be Up for the Challenge
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s’ Research and Development Center for Teacher Education tells us that “real and meaningful change takes time and always comes with challenges. Build in space for setbacks. Anticipate obstacles and meet them with a cool head. One of the most difficult aspects of adopting new curriculum (or anything new for that matter) and instituting real change is the fear of failure that comes with it. Understand there is room for failure as long as there is a commitment to learning from it.” Give yourself permission to try something and know if it does not work as anticipated, you can reset and try approaching it a different way.
"To create a new standard, you have to be up for that
challenge and really enjoy it." -Shigeru Miyamoto
3. Be kind to yourself
Celebrate the success as you go along. Don’t be afraid to say, “This is going well!” and share that success with colleagues. On the flip side, don’t be too discouraged when something doesn’t go well. It is all part of the process. Remember there is a great deal of work to be done in this process, but do not give up that important “me and/or family time”. This is what energizes us to sustain the effort in the long run.
"If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me." - Maya D’Angelo
4. Don’t work too hard on the unimportant things
Sometimes we can get caught up in the “bells and whistles” and spend too much time on the unimportant things like fancy bulletin boards. In her blog, Nancy Flanagan reminds us, “The most important thing you can do before schools starts is think about the curriculum and the kids you are teaching” Keep your focus on best instructional practices. Your time is precious, as you do your unit and daily planning ask yourself, “What is it I want my students to learn today and what is most effective way to get there?” Remember, cute worksheets do not develop conceptual understanding.
"You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple." -Steve Jobs
5. Don’t be afraid to let some things go
Change is the opportunity for a fresh start. Try new things. Rejuvenate. It is OK to let the old files go. (Even if it is your favorite). Change is difficult for many reasons. Sometimes it is because we believe we are losing something of value. Some teachers may share these sentiments: “I liked the old curriculum, it worked for me” or “I have spent a great deal of time developing resources for (insert initiative here), now I have to start over”. Or it might be that we fear that we will not be able to adapt to something new… again. Stepping out of our comfort zone is how we grow and improve.
"Let it go. Let it go." – Elsa, Disney’s Frozen
6. Give it time
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Research tells us it takes years to effectively implement a new curriculum. It can take just as long to implement other aspects of change. There is definitely a learning curve to this process. Take it one day at a time with your eye on the goal of increasing student learning.
"Patience is a key element of success." - Bill Gates
7. Know that You Are Not Alone
We can no longer teach in isolation. There is so much value in collaboration. There are many people who want to support you and to see you succeed in this endeavor. Your colleagues may be experiencing the same feelings of uncertainty and frustration as they work to make changes and try new things. Be sure to reach out and share successes and concerns. We can all learn from each other.
"The smartest person in the room, is the room." – David Weinberger
8. Take advantage of all the possible professional develop you can
In order to effectively do anything new, you need some degree of learning to occur. Take advantage of all the possible staff development opportunities you can that are offered right within your own district. The more you know about the content area, concepts being taught and best instructional practices the more success you will have in increasing your students’ learning. Look for courses to support your learning on the RPS PDexpress.
In regards to the new elementary math curriculum, you may want to organize a cohort that uses the Curriculum’s Teachers’ Edition as a Book Study for CEU’s. This gives you the opportunity to study and have professional dialogue as you “unwrap” your new curriculum together. The Office of Curriculum and Instruction will be offering as much math support and training as it possibly can. Please contact us with questions, concerns and ideas as to how we can best support your learning.
"The most effective teachers actively seek to improve their own teaching." - John Hattie
9. Have confidence in the leg-work that others have already done
Whether you are trying a new behavior plan, a new method of grading, or a new curriculum, likely you chose it because there was research to show that it was effective and produced great results. Whether you did the research or you read someone else’s research, believe and trust that of all the choices out there, this one rose to the top as being worthy of replication.
In regards to the new elementary math curriculum, trust that “great care” was given in the development and selection of this curriculum. You may or may not have been a part of the articulation or curriculum adoption process. However, if you are a staff member in the Rochester Public School system, you need to know that many of your colleagues spent a great deal of time reviewing data, current best practices in instruction and content as part of a process to select this new curriculum. Every step of this process focused on what is best for our students. Believe that the articulation committee made the best decisions possible in the selection of this curriculum.
"Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence." – Vince Lombardi
Finally, the best tip of all – believe in yourself. The biggest difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not intelligence, opportunity, or resources. It is the belief that they can make their goals happen. We all deal with vulnerability, uncertainty, and failure. Some people trust that if we move forward anyway, then we will figure it out. If you do not believe that it has possible to make new things work, then it is hard to make any progress. It does not matter how good the ideas are, nothing will work for you if you do not believe in it. And more importantly, nothing will work if you don't believe in yourself.
"YOU GOT THIS!!!!" - The office of Curriculum and Instruction
The journey may not be easy. You will not always be successful on your first attempt. You may love some things you are trying and dislike others. You may soar high and then crash but you will soar again; Higher, father and faster than you could ever imagine.
This post brought to you by Julie Ace, Elementary Implementation Associate
I love the Verizon ads that always asked that question. Perhaps it is because one of the greatest challenges I hear repeatedly from teachers across the district is in regards to parent communication. Each year as a classroom teacher, I would reflect on how effective my chosen methods of communication were over the course of a school year. I typically had frequent contact with about 25% of my families, moderate contact with about 50% of my families, and little to no contact with about the other 25% of my families. By contact, I mean two-way communication that takes place on a weekly basis.
In looking at my own practices, I realize now that I was great at one-way communication; newsletters, notes in planners, forms sent home with students, etc. However, I was not offering my families any great tools, other than email or phone, to actually converse with me about their student and how things were going at school. Therefore, this summer I set out to find what other educators are using.
What I learned is that there is a TON of apps out there specifically designed to accomplish the task of parent-teacher communication. I spent some time exploring and weeding through the plethora of options out there and have come up with a list of 5 that impressed me the most and had fantastic teacher reviews.
If you are looking to communicate in a timely manner with parents these days, some form of technology is a must. These are just 5 of a multitude of apps that are available to accomplish this task. If none of these strikes your fancy, there are much more from which to choose. Ultimately, all that matters is that our families can hear us.
This post brought to you by Rebecca Mecikalski, Elementary Implementation Associate
Ahh! The time is almost here. Whether your reading spot is a beach, a hammock, or a shady tree I bet you are getting ready for some summer reading. As educators we love learning and summer can be a great time to renew, reflect, and recharge our teacher batteries. Here are some of my top picks for great reads this summer:
Troublemakers by Shalaby
In her first book, Carla Shalaby, a former elementary teacher, introduces us to four “troublemakers”: Zora, Lucas, Sean and Marcus. Her book causes us to question how we identify and understand students who experience school differently. These memorable children allow readers to see school through the eyes of those who are sometimes considered 'problems'.
This book definitely caused me to think about our school structures and what we value in the world of education. Although the children in this book are elementary aged, there are many lessons to be learned within any level of K-12 education.
Blind Spot by Banaji and Greenwald
This book was recommended by Dr. Sharokky Hollie at our last professional development session. The authors of this book explore the hidden biases we carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes on race, gender, class, religion, and sexuality. This book is for those of us who want to align our behavior with our intentions.
Full disclosure, I have not read it--yet--but it is on my short list and has been highly recommended by those who have read it already.
The Courage to Teach by Palmer
"This book is for teachers who have good days and bad — and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves. It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts, because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life." These words, taken from Parker Palmer’s introduction, speak to the message of this book. Palmer boils things down to this one sentence: good teaching cannot be reduced to a technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. He says good teaching takes many forms but it shares one thing: good teachers are authentically present in their classrooms and in community with their content and their learners.
JJ Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and co-creator and producer of the tv show Lost, said in a review that, "This extraordinary, wildly entertaining book sheds new light on the Age of Disruption. What does it take to make a meaningful difference? How can you apply this insight to your own life? By debunking myths of success stories, challenging long-held beliefs of process, and find commonality among those who are agents of profound change, Adam Grant gives us a powerful new perspective on not just our place in the world, but our potential to shake it up entirely."
Lately, we have been working hard on social-emotional learning in the Rochester Public Schools and how we might best help every student succeed. Although this book is from outside of the education sector it has great ideas for how we can support every student, no matter their background, to be successful in college, career, and life.
Drive by Pink
I was introduced to this book through Mayo High School’s “ Best Bits of Books” Staff Development Series facilitated by Peter Dodds. The main premise of this book is that if we are engaged in creative tasks (like teaching) the elements that people need in order to feel job satisfaction are threefold: autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Pink gives readers examples of how organizations can cultivate these elements.
What’s on your summer reading list? If you are interested in discussing some of these great reads or others that you plan to delve into consider attending Pages on the Patio, which begins this June (sign up here).
We’d love to talk with you about your reading and thinking!
This post brought to you by Heather Willman, APOSA overseeing Secondary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
Yes! We did it! Another year completed! Students are gone, finals have been completed, grades have been submitted, and now what? Time to celebrate, reflect, rejuvenate, and reenergize.
As the busses rolled away and I waved goodbye to students who have been such a huge part of my life for months, I have always felt a strange mix of celebration and shock. I was so proud my students, but I also couldn’t believe it was all over.
The first week off was always strange for me. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. This is when the first R of my summer began: time to Reflect.
I spent my first few days reflecting on my year. I celebrated my successes, but I spent more time reflecting on what I wanted to change. How could I adjust my classroom set up that would foster more interaction? What teaching strategies did I want to dig deeper into that I just didn’t have the time for last year? Which lessons did I want to modify to make them more successful for all my students? How could I build in more academic vocabulary in my lessons? I would jot down these ideas as I knew that I would forget them between June and August. I sometimes organized my ideas by the following categories:
After spending time reflecting and celebrating, it was time to Relax! Time to rejuvenate and enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of school. This time allowed me to clear my head, rejuvenate my body and fill up my well again. Here are some ideas that could fill your well:
Then, in September, share what you did over the summer with your students in the fall. They love to hear what teachers do in the summer!
After some much needed (and much deserved) relaxation, I was ready to get Reenergized for the fall. I would pick up that list of ideas I jotted down in June. I would reread it and begin making my plans for the start of the year. I would start researching new strategies, read blogs that offered new ideas, or dig into a professional development book that someone told me about. I was ready to get back at it again.
Teachers never stop learning and I saw this first-hand last year at Pages on the Patio. It was reenergizing for me to see these amazing educators reading professional books, listening to podcasts, and sharing their learning with one-another. My co-facilitator and I would have local residents come up to us and ask us what was going on. I’m sure it seemed strange to see 20+ people quietly reading in public. Our response was “we are teachers and this is what teachers do in the summer; we continue to learn”. It was fun to see them looked surprised. They often expressed admiration for what these educators were doing. I took away so many new ideas to start off my year with from these sessions and couldn’t wait for August to start sharing my learning with others. (You can read more about last year's summer learning here.)
By the way, it isn’t too late to sign up for this summer's Pages on the Patio. You can still sign up on PD Express!
As the year comes to a close, my wish for you is to take some time to do the same 3 R’s as I’ll be doing: Reflecting, Relaxing, and Reenergizing.
This post brought to you by Katie Miller, K-12 EL Implementation Associate
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