2017 has been an interesting year, and not just because of the series of unfortunate political events we find ourselves in as Americans, but because it has been one of self-reflection and change. Some would argue that the changes haven’t been good ones, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The positive part of that is at least we know, with as much transparency as one can, where people stand.
For me, as a teacher, I am better aware of where I stand as well. In my writing for Corelaborate, I started the year very focused on Social and Emotional Learning and rightly so. It is something I am very passionate about, particularly considering the students and families that I work with. I wrote about it a LOT. And while it is still something I put a lot of effort into, I have found myself drawn, often by the writings of other Corelaborate Teacher Leaders, to new and challenging things.
I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone, taken risks, tried new things, and I feel I am better for it as are my students. Routine is great. I love routine. I like to think that my way of doing things is the best way for me and my students, but being open to feedback and ideas from you, my colleagues and fellow trench-goers, has opened me up and reinvigorated my teaching and my students.
The first day I introduced the notion of a unit on poetry, I heard groans and even a “boo”, and immediately thought it was a bad idea. But as you may have previously read, the students ended up loving what we did. Our Technology TOSA encouraged me to take it to the next level and let the students create Google Slide presentations of their poetry. Since logging on was once a big issue, asking them to utilize technology in that way scared me. My students get so easily frustrated which means something can start as fun and easily become a melt-down. But it didn’t. They had so much fun choosing layouts and pictures and transitions….they were engrossed. I shared their projects with parents and one family even did a poetry reading at dinner! I was able to look at new and different Common Core State Standards than I had before! My students are able to:
By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
I told my students that when we come back in January, I plan on doing a unit on Drama. They are already discussing how they want to write their own plays and create backdrops and props. They are enthusiastic about learning, and I find, that after some really challenging years (including this one so far!) that I am more enthusiastic about teaching them! I am confident that in 2018 I will stick to my resolution of trying new things and being a little uncomfortable. What’s your resolution for teaching in 2018?