Day 9 – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care)…

I skateboarded today for the first time and loved it.

A student let me try to skate on his board.

It was awesome.

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Desk Drawer, Day 8 – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Topic: What is in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?

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The completely un-staged picture of my “desk”. I put desk in quotes because I’m trying to get away from the desk.

The golf ball came from the pantry garden last spring.

The Apple TV box is in my desk because I don’t want to throw it away.

The charger belongs to a student and needs to go back to her tomorrow so she doesn’t get a $38 fine.

The sticky note says:
The kids
The environment
The organization
allows it to happen

The sticky note note tells me what to be grateful for and to remember my constraints. I can shape and change each of those variables each day, then I’m doing what I’m called to.

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Most Inspirational Colleague, Day 6 – 30 Day Challenge

Topic: Who was/is your most inspirational colleague and why?

@PhillKlamm https://twitter.com/PhillKlamm

I would not be in the Edgerton, Wisconsin if it were not for Phill Klamm.

Want to get inspired?  Go to Phill’s website: http://www.mrklamm.com/

He’s leaving his post as Associate Principal of Edgerton High School to move to Kenya. Follow his journey…it will inspire you as well!

 

 

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Mentors, 30 Day Challenge – Day 6 #reflectiveteacher @teachthought

What does a good mentor “do”?

A good mentor provides counsel, gives feedback, listens, and supports. Teaching is an incredible profession, but for many new teachers, teaching can be an incredibly tedious profession. Forms, digital grade books, progress reports, department goals, classroom observation, aligning content to curriculum (or vice versa), and making sure kids are getting to school ready to learn- this is teaching.

It’s intense.

I can not begin to stress how important my first three years as a teacher were from this standpoint: I went through a system which taught me how to teach. My wife and I say often, “The standards-based teaching for learning taught us two concepts, what do I want my students to learn and how do I know they learned what I wanted them to?” The system was kicked off with a multiple day course on the teaching process. A part of that course was a mentor lunch. What was immediately evident about my assigned mentor was that she was more than just a special education teacher. She was a literacy guru. She pioneered a co-taught Young Adult Literature class that was full every semester. From the onset, it was clear to me that my mentor was an awesome teacher and that she had a passion for continuous improvement.

When I didn’t know what was wrong with PowerSchool, she would tell me what I needed to hear.

When I had my first student quit school, she said he would be back (and he was, he was my first 5th year student to graduate).

When I was unprepared for the class we co-taught, I was held accountable. Not with words, but with corrective suggestions and ideas on how to improve for the next day (Ishmael Beah A Long Way Gone was the unit I bombed on).

When I wanted to do more, for kids and in my practice as an educator, she listened, she went to trainings with me, she participated in the design, she encouraged me to go forward.

Mentors are key. They show new frightened teachers that making a difference in kids lives is possible, and they show them how. If I would have had to figure out everything by myself in a one room schoolhouse, I would have probably failed miserably. More importantly, I would have missed on seeing world class teachers work their craft. I would have missed on seeing unparalleled dedication to kids.

Mentors carry the company ethos, and when the District or school strives for excellence, mentors carry the responsibility and have the privilege of on boarding new faculty successfully.

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30 Day Challenge – Day 5

Post a picture of your classroom and discuss what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to

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I see a different era of Ed Tech. I see holding on to resources no longer relevant to learning.

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I see 25 years of worksheets. I see a pre-Google era level of compliance among students which is unknown to new teachers and current students. I see progress and a shift towards student centered inquiry-based learning.

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I see a great place to have discourse, design projects, and begin to dream. I see a lack of clutter. I see a blank canvas. I see administrative supporters who promote the crazies when they say, “So, we want to get rid of all the worksheets and turn our GED program into a project-based center.” I see a safe place to learn.

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What do you love most about teaching? Day 4 @teachthought #reflectiveteacher

What do you love most about teaching?

I love the people.

I love the grind, the excitement, the gut wrenching defeat of having young people share their greatest sorrows. I love being present for that. Because I am learning to listen, rather than sit and attempt to cure.

But what I love most about teaching, is seeing the fire begin. Having students learners as designers of their own learning, and then watching them carry out their plan is what I love most about teaching. I enjoy the dialog. The push towards deadlines of meaningful projects and the rhythm of the day when engaged folks enjoy breaking through the door.

I love working with high octane professional kid magnets who “get it”. These colleagues are not whiners, they are winners. They can not tell me the exact number of their salary and often have students roaming in and out of their rooms before school, after it, during their lunch, and certainly on prep. They listen. They push, pull, scaffold, and are proximity control gurus.

I love the parents. I don’t always like them, but I do love them. They trust their school with their greatest treasure and have been more than kind to me and my family.

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Day 3 – 30 Day Challenge

Our suggested topic for today:
Discuss one “observation” that you’d like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

This is a difficult topic for me to address. I have been inundated with evaluation over the last few weeks. Wisconsin is going to an effectiveness evaluation this year for teachers. One observable area I want to get stronger in this school year is differentiating within formative assessments that are tied to activities. Every one of my students will have a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) completed by the end of September. Today I wrote on the board, “Different rules for different people,” and I explained how I heard Shaka Smart break down that quote at a Nike Coaches Clinic last spring. People who are great at a skill still need to be pushed, whereas, people learning the skill require more attempts and possible varying degrees of scaffolding.

Differentiation to me means, “Different rules for different people,” in action. And if I can get buy-in within the learning space that each persons goals and “rules” are tied to their PLP, then there will be a ton of success and positive group culture.

I want more than one possible assessment per group per activity. Also, I want to completely open-up & extrapolate the term “formative assessment”. During my third year as a teacher, I went through a similar process with checking for understandings (CFU’s). I am hoping for a similar outcome as that school year. I want real conversations with colleagues. I want to be challenged. I want to get better at teaching and helping youth get connected with what they are passionate about.

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