Saturday, August 20, 2016

Celebrating First 3 Days

Wednesday, August 17 9:05 AM
Welcome to my 29th year of teaching. First day. Envisioned my new classroom for at least 6 months prior to this date.  Several conversations with my principal, coaches, self-talk, colleagues. I had it perfect in my mind.  Open seating, no set desks, space for supplies, and tons of open floor space. Enter 27 students.  I felt like a rookie.  I had never taught a day in my life.  I looked up from the carpet and wondered what had I done.  So many things I never considered.  

Thursday morning, 1:00 AM
What had I done?  How do I learn their names when they don't have assigned seats?  Even though we spent all day building community - I've made a mistake. My husband reminds me, "You've got this."  I am reminded of the sweetest comment after I called MP the wrong name twice, "It's ok Mrs. Caplin, it's a lot easier for me I've known you since kindergarten and you didn't know it." 

Thursday, August 18 7:05 AM
Couldn't sleep,  Couldn't get to school soon enough. Turned on my Jimmy Buffet CD to remind me of summer.  Took a deep breath. Sat down on the couch and looked around.  Changes have to be made.  Moved one table out.  Moved three desks out.  Moved "typical" chairs out. Stacked the nesting table. 27 students arrived - more space.  Better job with names (two hours looking at their first day photos last night really helped).  Built bridges with pennies had a tremendous Thursday.

Friday, August 19
Starbucks Friday! Class meeting.  Students share about their week.  "Love open seating." "Couch is the best."  "Never had nesting tables."  "It's not so crowded."  "I've never had a class pet."  "Thanks Mrs. Caplin."  I guess I still got it.

Thanks to Ruth Ayres for encouraging me to Celebrate.  I sure couldn't have celebrated on Wednesday, but now I realize I had three days of growth. 

Building bridges #happyfaces
#happylearners choosing their own space

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shift #3: Classroom Conversation

Shift #3 will be the toughest challenge for me.  I had the opportunity for coaching last year, and it really helped me to notice my talk. Classroom talk is a two way street and in the past I have been more of the director of conversations. My other guilt is that I tended to be the answer keeper (not all the times) but especially when I was rushed for time and for sure in math. 
Compliments of Google image

I'm excited about this shifting teacher talk to include more question because I believe it could be the game changer.  I have read several articles, chapters and twitter chats to help me change my thinking.  I am going to have a cheat sheet index card to help me the first few months of school.  It has a huge question mark and a few prompts to remind me to stop and ask questions.  My go to questions include

  • Explain your thinking NOT explain your answer
  • Justify your answer with support from your notebook NOT show me your work
  • Turn and talk with a friend who has a different answer/solution NOT just turn and talk
My biggest learning happened in math the past few years.  I needed to make changes with how they responded with answers. I have shifted from: What's the answer? to Which strategy did you use to solve the problem?  It's a double dip question both the answer and the thinking. This change was important because I used to want the "right" answer. Focusing on strategies which are crucial for math since there are so many different ways to solve a problem. Our conversation is centered around the strategies and their thinking not just the answer. 

Shift #3 will be a year long commitment. I have been thinking about gentle reminders to help me remember these changes. I'm getting excited about implementing my thinking from the summer when school starts in two weeks. I appreciate the comments because they always help me grow as a learner.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shift #2: Ownership with Jobs

I wonder if I am old fashion?  Do you still have classroom jobs?  I love the idea of everyone has their "job" to do in our classroom.  This is a message that I send the first week of school.  It could be a shift for some students because your job is not just individualized it is a community responsibility.  Just like at home, you have a job to do.  It is not a chore it is a privilege because your job is supporting everyone in our class. 

I get some interesting looks when I say it's a privilege to have a job this year. And before they even ask, "Yes everyone will have a job."   Every Friday during our class meeting, I choose names out of the bucket and they can choose their job.  There is no right to "pass" either.  And yes the last name drawn gets the last job.  While I am on my soapbox for a moment, I always ask who has a job at home?  It saddens me as the hands that are raised up have been dwindling over the years. Most of these are self explanatory; however, the two shifts this year are with Twitter and Quote Master.

Shift #2:  Ownership with Jobs
  • The List of Jobs
    • Messenger
    • Friday Folders
    • Inspector
    • Twitter
    • Quote Master
TWITTER:  Our class has a twitter handle (@228bes) and for the first few years I sent all the tweets (I know I know not a good choice) last two years the students took over tweeting, but I only had them tweet at the end of day.  
The shift that will happen this year will be the student can tweet all day.  I even envision them taking the iPad to art, music, gym, and special classes if they want too. I will give them an iPad which will allow them to take more pictures even videos etc. Having the twitter job has HUGE responsibility and that will be an important conversation the first few weeks of school.  

QUOTE MASTER: is a new job this year.  I tried it out last year a few different ways. I used quotes in the morning message, wrote them on a small dry erase board and also a glitter board (thanks JoEllen). But again I felt like I had the ownership and honestly not much conversation happened from the quotes. This year, it's a job.  I purchased a few quote books to have in a tub and students are going to choose a quote from those books or find their own on the internet.  They will have the weekend and Monday to choose their quote. Their job is to write it on morning message by Tuesday and during Friday's class meeting the owner of the quote will explain why they chose it and write in our this year's quote book.  I will model for them the first week.  We will see where this leads us..... Check back more shifts to come.