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Let me tell you a story-

Every August since 1984 there has been a day filled with excitement, nervousness, and hope that has propelled me forward with a sense of what could be another year. Back in 1984, Westmore was different. It was very large, old building. I remember my kindergarten room having a large red carpet, tables off to the side, and toys that I wished I could take home.  I remember making peanut butter in class, could you imagine that now? I remember gluing cotton balls onto paper to make a lamb, and letter people. I remember feeling like my teacher was so old she could be my grandma, and like my grandma she was soft-spoken until you went to far. I remember a lot snippets, but mostly I remember loving school.

2018-2019-

No, that's not a typo. Like four-year-old me eager to get started with kindergarten, it wasn't long before I was conjecturing about first grade. So, even knee-deep into this year, I was already thinking about next year.

Next year, I will do community supplies. It takes too long to get materials from their boxes in the hall, and everyone was pretty much out of pencils before winter break this year.

Next year, we will start small and the students will slowly and steadily take the reins.

Next year, math books will live in lockers.

Next year, more handwriting, but less wasted paper.

Next year, more STEM.

Next year, more team building.

Next year...

Road Map- Destination May 25, 2018

About 100 days in I hit a wall. Others call it the (bottom of the) J-Curve Effect. Call it what you want, but I was exhausted, stressed out, and already thinking about what I could do better next year. Next year was great until the rest of this year came back into view and thumped me upside the head.

So, I had to make changes. Reflect, revise, change. It wasn't a one-woman job. After all, there were 26 of us sharing one space. We began with a pretty frank discussion about what was working, what wasn't and how we could go forward. We made a plan that we could all make work.

A few snippets of the plan included:

  • Assigned home bases for a month. Students would submit 6 people they could work well with, and one person they couldn't work well with. I guaranteed one of the six, and not the one they couldn't work with. This is something that I have done since my first year of teaching, and if it's not broke, I shouldn't have tried to fix it.
  • Students would start and end the day at their home bases, but they could spread out during any work time.
  • After a week, they could raise or lower their tables to their desired heights, and/or switch out chairs.
  • Students stated that our 2 hour 40 minute afternoon was really long, so we built in a 10 minute "seat to seat" break.  Weather permitting these breaks were guaranteed to be outside, and at a set time that students could count on.  They agreed to be flexible, and I agreed to warn them ahead of time if the time was going to change.
  • Group work would include some assigned groups and some student-chosen groups.
  • More regular class meetings. We had moved away from weekly meetings.
Some changes were immediate, and some took time, but this was definitely a move in the right direction. With time came more freedoms, more choices on seats, set-ups, work spaces, work topics.  We navigated these things together.  I have to say I had a pretty cool group of nine and 10 year olds with which to work.

Arrival

I loved my class, but truth be told, this year involved so much of my own growth that I was exhausted by the end of May. Seriously, you can look at the fact that this is the first blog updated since, what? February?

My colleague and partner in this adventure presented at the School Board meeting recently. It was fun and ironically energizing to share our experiences a mere week after final dismissal.  We found ourselves with more questions than answers. How can we gauge the impact of our 21st Century Classrooms? How will we continue to move forward? How will the district move forward?  These questions sum up what most teachers ask themselves everyday, "How can I be even better tomorrow?"

I don't have all the answers, but I hope to share more of my journey in the future.




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