Monday, January 18, 2016

Dreading the Interruption of a 2 Hour Delay!

 I finally sit down to take a reflective moment on the last couple of weeks.  I feel like I have been grasping at something to reflect on that has power, purpose, or encouragement.  As you can see I have been at a loss of ideas obviously, by my lack of posts lately.  Then I remembered the best posts come when I sit down and just start writing about the things I notice.  So here goes.

Like many schools in my part of the country there is snow and cold.  This year has been very mild with the amount of snow, even the temperature has not been terribly cold this year.  However, we have now hit the subzero and some snow has been trying to wreck my lesson plans.  Today was one of those days, negative temps so 2 hour delay.

I realized the delay is a perfect interruption.  While I have my plans laid out and my ideas ready and organized, delays make me rearrange my whole day.  Today instead of coming in and being like "Oh man, now nothing will be on schedule, kids will be loud and hyper, I can't just follow  my plan!"  I will insert here, I hope I am not the only teacher who does this, but sadly that is how my 2 hour delay often begins.  I decided today would be different.  I would not freak out, have worry or frustration because it wasn't as planned and I would seize the interruption I had been given to change my own ideas.  I did not race into my room to quickly decide what would be cut and what was important to stay in the plan.  I also need to add it was a day that I had already squeezed in a special treat and reward time because my students had earned this time for good a behavior incentive.  When I say I that I came with no worries, this was WAY out of the box for myself.

I stopped to look at the day, not the plans, the kids.  They came in smiling and eager to learn.  Yes  a little more chatty than normal, but excited to learn something new, cool, interesting today.  So I decided we would learn sequence for our reading a bit differently. I talked a few minutes about using sequence when we tell a story, and seeing sequence when we read a story.  They all agreed this was VERY important, especially if you were giving directions in your story. Next, I had them get their iPads and we used popplet app.  Now we have used this app many times before, but today we used it in a new way.  We put our popplets in a straight line to show order and sequence in our story.  We always write about our weekend, but today we would tell a story in order using these little boxes and transitions words.

Honestly, this is so insignificant, the amazing part was that I slowed my pace down, not rushing, no scramble to squeeze it all in and we did something different. At one point I looked up at my kids and they were engaged, ready to start their story and use sequence.  It was then I realized something I know, but now I KNOW.  Students love to use things in different ways.  I did not have to explain how to use the app just a new thing we could do with it.  I know common sense, right? Sometimes the biggest ideas are right in front of us the whole time.

This was in reading where I was going to teach sequence.  After lunch we were looking something else, a math story.  "Hey when you read this the sequence matters, or it won't make sense."  This was said by one of my firsties.  My smile on the outside could not have possibly been as big as the explosion in my heart.   They were listening, they did get it, and were applying it in an area I hadn't thought to pull it in.  Text to Text connection, math and writing.  Yes, not the way the curriculum laid it out, but in a way that mattered to them today.

So a delay has a new meaning for me.  Pace is my focus word, I keep telling my students to slow down because slow and steady wins the race.  I slowed down and just had a fun moment to teach a simple lesson to my students and they responded by learning.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A New Perspective
The new year begins fresh, all baggage can be dropped at the door and then take a step into the new, untainted year. I look around at the goals my students set all the way back in August.  I see accomplishments that all of the children in my classroom have already reached.  I want to raise the bar, not because I have to, or the state says so, or that there is an evaluation tied to the goal, but because I am a teacher.  I want to push them to set a new goals, to reach higher than they thought they could do.  This is the best time of first grade.  1/2 of the school year has almost passed us by and I am ready to read with them to see the growth.  They will decide where we go from here.  My personal goals are to continue reflecting on my blog, bring excitement and a stress free environment to learn everyday from my students, and to bring something cool each day to push the thinking and creating level in my room. Problem solving is my new year focus. Present a problem on Monday. Give some time to think.  Tuesday collaborate a solution.  Wednesday try it out. Thursday reflect on why it was successful or what is another way to attack it.  Documenting in a journal they can go back to record ideas that come to them later. The idea may sound simple, but it is a stretch for me, to break out of my routine and look at thinking in a new way.  I am pushing my boundaries and realizing that my comfort and stretch may be completely different than anyone else.  I also realize that is ok.  My students do not all accelerate at the same speed and intensity  so why should educators that are also learners be any different?