Tired Teacher Needs to be Inspired

Join other teachers each Tuesday,  and share a slice of your life.
Join other teachers each Tuesday, and share a slice of your life.

TIRED TEACHER NEEDS TO BE INSPIRED

The blog title sounds like a want ad, doesn’t it? I am a tired teacher who needs to be inspired. Aren’t we all? Working with passionate people who love teaching and learning is one of the best ways to fill my tank with energy and ideas thus rejuvenating  me no matter the time of year. Yesterday I spent the day with energetic and enthusiastic educators as a part of Paulding County TechEds. I was so into what I was doing that I forgot to slice, but I did blog, though, as part of TechEds at http://kidblog.org/class/techeds/posts  (to view my blog as well as great ideas from TechEds teachers, check out our posts–type 123456 as the password).

Teaching K-12 teachers I have never met is a bit terrifying. Last week I was given that opportunity/challenge and invited to teach a group of teachers from a neighboring district  teaching for the Kennesaw Mountain Wrting Project. My lesson was about infographics as a teaching and learning tool in the classroom; however, the delivery of my lesson was infused with tech tools. I’ve learned from my involvement with Paulding TechEds. I used Blendspace to house and present my content. I created an Infographic Symbaloo Webmix (a visual bookmarking site) to share links with teaching resources, sites for creating infographics, sources for quality infographics, and links for web tools used during the presentation.

I opened my lesson with a question about student/teacher attitudes for reading/teaching non-fiction using AnswerGarden. You may view the answers and submit your own here. Teachers explored ideas for using infographics in the classroom using a Thinglink I created using Kathie Schrock’s infographic about teaching using infographics. Then, I polled teachers using two digital assessment tools:  Plickers and Formative.  Teachers worked independently or with partners based on their needs (differentiation in staff development–I think they appreciated it).
//www.thinglink.com/card/667131994668269570

At the end of my lesson, I closed by polling teachers using Today’s Meet about what they would use from the lesson/workshop. The teachers responded as much about the digital delivery and tools they would use as they did about using infographics as learning and teaching tools.

Following the presentation, one of the teachers came up to me and said, “From all the lessons over the past two weeks, I got the most out of this because I know I will use it right away. Thank you.”

Following that the facilitator for  KMWP Area 2 (also the site director) said, “Thank you for what you said at the end of the lesson. That was powerful, and something teachers need to hear.”

Here is the gist of what I said at the end of my lesson:

I have taught for 18 years, and what I have found is that I need to continue to seek out ways to rejuvenate myself. A few years ago, I was a fellow for a KMWP Summer Institute, and that rejuvenated me and inspired me–yes, you could say I drank the Kool-aid. This past year I worked with TechEds. I couldn’t have used all the tech tools I used today without it. TechEds also inspired me as I worked alongside techy teachers as we struggled, learned, and celebrated together.  

As teachers, we have to continue to seek out new ways to be inspired and engaged. I applaud you all for being here this summer, for taking time out of your summer to learn and grow. Right now I know you may be more tired than inspired, but as the summer continues think about all that you took away from this experience, and let it fuel you next fall. If we as teachers aren’t engaged and inspired, our students aren’t engaged and inspired. Continue to find what will rejuvenate you, so that you can give kids what they deserve and so that you can be passionate about what you do.

I’m not usually an inspirational speech giving teacher, but sometimes the words are needed. And I could tell on that day, some tired teachers needed to be inspired. Alas, perhaps I was one of them.  In fact, perhaps I am always that tired teacher seeking inspiration.

Yes, here I write and continue to blog–I suppose this is its own digital direction in differentiation.  And, I know that you, my fellow bloggers and my fellow educators, continue to inspire me and meet me right where I am.  As we slice with Two Writing Teachers, we definitely celebrate the NWP concept of teachers teaching teachers. Thank you for all your words and all your support and for remembering that we are all tired teachers seeking inspiration. 

Thought Provoking Questions to End a Lesson

Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March
March Slice of Life Challenge

I may be sick and tired, but my hamster doesn’t stop running on its wheel, oh no. On a paper grading break, blogging in bed and wondering of what would be great thought provoking questions that would work well in ELA.

These thoughts were sparked because yesterday when I had a lesson follow up with the Instructional Design Team, I told my TechEds county person that I’d like to make my own randomizer of questions. Guess what she did? She made me a video with directions where even I can cut and paste and put things in HTML and make my own random questions to use with a QR lesson closing. I am excited to use this as a way to bring some excitement and higher-level thinking to closings. Of course, now that she figured it out and made a user-friendly video, I feel compelled to take that step.

I thought of even making my own QR die, Tony Vincent style:

vincent die

Here is what I used yesterday for my closing yesterday and last week:

QR reflection

 

While I like the above reflection questions,  I want to make at least some faces of the die more reading, writing, communication based; I want to make it my own and select my own questions. Still, though, I’m looking for great minds to help me. When I finish my die, I will share what I create in the comments section of this blog, so give me some good ideas and share your thoughts.

I might make one that is totally generic for any content, but that works well with summarizing and digging deeper into a lesson…like I said, the hamster is still running…just a little more slowly.

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

 

Rules of the Game

Do you ever wish that teaching came with a rulebook that you could apply from moment to moment and year to year? Now I’m one who relishes in new challenges, and I often jump in the deep end and try new things. Lately, though, I feel like the playing field is changing drastically, and I feel like I’m trying to master new rules and new skills. I’ve always known I have areas for growth, but usually I feel like I’m a pretty good player in this game and that I’m on the first string.  Lately, though, I feel like my stats put me on the bench, and I’m trying to master a lot of new rules.

Today I thought of this comparison of the rules of the game to teaching as I played four-square with my children. The rules of that game seem to have changed a lot in the past 34 years, at least according to my children. I felt like the game had been altered, and no longer was I feeling like the “king” of the squares; perhaps I was a mere peasant. I had to ask for clarification of the rules, both children had different interpretations of the rules, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to play the game. Sound familiar?

Yes, that’s the way I feel as I try to forge forward on this ever changing playing field of education. Rule after rule is hurled at me, and I’m trying to hold my own and play at a proficient level, but I can’t master all the rules and skills at once.  At times, I feel more like an ill-prepared rookie trying to master this new level of play than like a seasoned veteran who knows what to expect and can roll with the punches.

This is a year with lots of new challenges. Never in my life have I seen teachers working so hard trying to master this new game and so unsure of how to apply the  new rules that accompany TKES (Teacher Keys Effectiveness System), a new system of evaluation with 10 performance standards and a bar that seems to get higher and higher, one that requires more documentation, organization, and planning than ever before.

While I’m not opposed to higher standards and new challenges, I am overwhelmed by so much at once, by these new levels of mastery,  the learning curve that goes with it, and the greater demands. I am working so hard and sleeping so little. This has been tough on me and my family, and I have a huge learning curve as I try to learn the new rules and document all that I do. I feel my growth this year more than any other, but I am sleep deprived because of it, and my life just isn’t balanced.

Last week, my words offered comfort to a great teacher who changed grade levels after several years in another, a teacher who felt like she wasn’t reaching that bar.  I told her she can’t expect to have differentiation and formative practice and all the other components of her evaluation where she wants it with it being her first year in that grade level. Going from being measured as either “Satisfactory” or “Needs Improvement” to these new levels of performance  (4-3-2-1) is humbling and even deflating for so many teachers I know.

Never have I seen people working so hard to teach, differentiate, and document.  I see some good things coming out of the teaching practices that accompany this new evaluative system, but the learning curve is a struggle for so many, and streamlining the process is not easy.  More than ever I think teachers are having to develop a growth mindset and get gritty (as they say). Perhaps I need the words of Angela Duckworth and Carol Dweck to put me to sleep at night.

Along with this, we have a new assessment measure in GA that is being developed for this spring, a measure that is Common Core based, but neither PARCC nor Smarter Balanced; thus, I am unsure of what this means for our assessment. 47% language/writing and 53% reading/vocabulary–selected response, constructed response, extended response (one narrative, one informational or argument). Great, but what does that mean? Will this assessment mirror PARCC and Smarter Balanced or will it be its own beast? Will the language/grammar questions be in-context or out of context? With no sample assessment and most resources still in development, I feel ill-prepared to prepare kids and to help them grow. Begin with the end in mind, but what is the end? What are the rules? Make sure your students grow, but what is growth on this new measure that will be one measure instead of two for language arts? How will growth be measured from last year’s test to this year’s test? And how do I do everything to ensure student success given one 60 minute period?

Sometimes I say, “Bring it on.”  Other times I feel like I just want someone to give me a clearcut rulebook that tells me that if I do x, y, and z., then my students will experience success. Then, I get the rulebook with the last 30 pages missing, and I find myself at this pedagogical crossroad where I have to let go of some things in order to play on the first string, and so I lose a little part of me as my identity shifts and as I adapt to survive and thrive and be a player in this game.

Of course, I’m still trying to learn the rules of the game, so I can play at my best.

you-have-to-learn-the-rules-of-the-game-and-then-you-have-to-play-better-than-anyone-else-22

I don’t need to play better than anyone else–I just need to play at my best for the sake of preparing my students to be successful, but wait, I still want to hang on the my pedagogy and make readers and writers out of my students. I still want to foster a love of reading and help students find their voices as writers.

I like the explanation for the above quote at http://www.virtuesforlife.com/10-great-life-lessons-from-albert-einstein/.  The author writes, “To become an expert at something, learn all you can about that subject, study other’s successes and then aim to do it better than them.  The stronger your commitment and passion is to your endeavor, the greater your resolve will be to succeed.”

While I’m confident that I know my subject and my pedagogy, I struggle with finding myself in new evaluative measures and new assessments. Some of the changes I embrace, yet others are a struggle.  Who am I? Who am I becoming? Who do my students need for me to become? Who do the assessments need me to become? Can I keep my pedagogy while shifting my practice a bit? Do I need to let go of parts of my pedagogy?

Is the midlife crisis of teaching? I still love teaching, and I will find myself in this. Perhaps I need to keep looking for the successes of others in this new game. I may not have the rulebook memorized, and I may not know all the rules. Still, though, I will keep seeking, growing, and adapting as I try to find how to keep what I know to be sacred while I navigate this new playing field.

What I have can’t be taught: commitment, passion, grit. I aim to do more than survive. I aim to thrive, and I will. Game on. Now somebody send me the last 30 pages of the rulebook–please!