Friday, March 21, 2014

Capacity of a Teacher Leader

As a teacher, I have the capacity to impact the course of a child’s life every single day I am with them.  Likewise, students have the capacity to impact the course of my life every single day they are with me. Building community within my classroom is my top priority.  Building trust, striving for openness, and recognizing unique gifts and talents all weave together to bring about a classroom environment that develops life long learners. While I am building this kind of classroom each year, I lead with intention by giving each student the specific kind of attention they need.  Of course, leading in this way can be challenging; however, by practicing gratitude, I can remain vulnerable and present each day.  Along with building a caring community, I seek to construct authentic learning environments with each group.  By keeping my lessons student focused, I work backwards starting with the essential understandings that I want the students to internalized and end with the students being able to apply the understandings to new situations.  Overall, my life mission is to make a difference in this world.  I know I am making that difference everyday when I enter the building.  I have been blessed with the opportunity, each and every day, to be both a teacher and a learner.  I couldn’t ask for more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reflection on the video by Dewitt Jones, "Celebrate What's Right with the World"

As a teacher and a leader, I need to believe my vision of education first and then I’ll see it.  Dewitt Jones says, “You won’t see it until you believe it.”  Spending these past years learning and growing in my education has helped me establish and fine tune what I believe and now I have a clearer vision when I come to school.  In the beginning of my education I wrote of feelings of frustration that I experienced with students throughout the day.  I would feel so ineffective at times that I had thoughts of quitting my profession.  Once my vision of my students began to change, for example, that both genders have unique ways of learning and behaving, I could begin to plan more effectively for those differences.   I began to see the noted differences and changed my vision, I looked at them as strengths rather than weaknesses in the students.  I began to see the differences on a daily basis.  My frustrations gradually left me and contentment and peace settled into my daily teaching routines.  I was changing my perception and was becoming open to who they were as students rather than who I wanted them to be.  Now I am open to the possibilities that each student brings to my classroom.  I am confident that I will find what is right with each student rather than what is wrong with them.  I don’t have to focus on all the things that they can’t do but look at what they can do.  I am becoming more present to who they are as little people.  I am putting it all out there now with them and waiting to be open to how they grow and change.  I trust that they will take in what they need and will grow accordingly.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Those people who have had a vulnerable and intimate talk with me, might at some point, have heard me say I don't give trust freely and I don't trust many people.  My reasoning for these statements revolve around having been hurt in the past.  After reading about the Principle of Trust, I found myself having an "ah ha' moment.  One statement that hit me hard says, "Trust, then, is the recognition of the Divine in someone else.  Ultimately, that is what your are trusting:  their higher self."  I immediately felt a wave of sadness wash over me after reading this statement.  I have always considered myself to be a faithful person.  I believe we are all made in the image and likeness of God.  Believing this would naturally lend itself to being a trusting and trustworthy person.  Clearly, I have a lot to learn in this area as I have never put trust and faith in the same category.  It is true, if you truly trust someone, you are recognizing them as having an innate quality of goodness.  The opposite of goodness is evil.  How can I go about not trusting people believing they are evil. That is just ridiculous.  I would never think that but that is essentially what I've been saying in not so many words. 

Since reading about the principle of trust, I have been doing some personal reflecting and have been having conversations with friends about the idea of trust to help me process the overall concepts.  I have some work to do.  "I have a choice!" says the author, "Bad things may happen but do the good thing anyway.  People may disappoint you, but choose the higher road anyway...You have a choice to make about how you approach things.  Do you choose to trust or not to trust?"  I want to choose trust.  I will begin to realign my thinking and feeling so that it matches what I say I believe.  I want others to see me as a trustworthy person and thus I want and need to trust others.  After all, the majority of people in this life are filled with goodness, not evil. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Integration of technology in the Future

Technology is a driving force in education.  Technology will never take the place of a teacher, yet can provide a useful tool to bring learning to a new level.  I will continue to integrate technology into my Title 1 groups, not just because of my educational practices thus far, but also because my district is completely committee to integrating the SAMR model into the classroom learning environment.  I will mainly be integrating the use of Ipads into my groups as I have been given five pads to use.  During our teacher professional development days, we will continue to investigate helpful tools to grow kids.  I will also be given the responsibility to managing and adding apps on the Title 1 Ipads.  I need to keep up on current trends and best practices.  I plan on continuing my research on best apps along with integrating my lessons into the SAMR model focusing on bringing my lessons to a higher level.  I will also be collaborating with the other intervention teachers in the district looking for and sharing best practices in technology application.  Technology is not only here to stay but will develop even more involved practices in the 21st century classroom.


When I reflect on my engagement as a learner, most importantly my personal investment has been challenged from the beginning of my program.  At the start, my only focus was to engage in order to earn more money.  I was willing to jump through any hoop so that I could climb the pay scale.  Once into the program, I immediately knew I was not going to be able to keep the learning  experiences impersonal. I knew I was going to have to show significant cognitive involvement, and I would be required to go into depth to fully embrace new structures of knowledge.  The focus would move quickly from money to growth and depth of knowledge and application.  Throughout the entire process, I have given a complete investment of myself, my time, and my willingness to be totally engaged in my learning and discovery.  
As a teacher, again I was challenged in the beginning of my education.  I realized that what I was doing in the past was no longer going to be acceptable practice for the future.  Soon my engagement became focused on encompassing the concepts behind growing my classroom into a multi level learning environment.  Educational plans began to be designed starting with the student and building out keeping best practices in mind throughout the process.  Now, my classroom is one where mistakes are encouraged and students feel safe to take risks in growing their reading knowledge.  Students are both assured and brought to see through formative assessment that the effort they put in will build success.  Some concrete examples of the above include:
  1. Using backwards designs when implementing units of learning in reading.  
  2. Grouping students by their skill levels to best meet them where they are at.
  3. Ongoing formative assessments including letter knowledge, phonics skills, reading fluency rates, comprehension understanding, and building growth mindset through building connections and sharing “what I learned” while reading...through hard work success can be achieved.
  4. Providing choice in learning by giving offering ipads, books, and games to build skills.
  5. Implementing gender specific learning strategies that meet the needs of varying learning styles.
Not all areas of engagement are able to be witnessed in my classroom learning environment.  I find that when I focus on certain areas, other areas begin to lack and vise versa. An area that is still lacking includes self-directed inquiry based learning.  As much as I would like to have my students self-directed, that tends to be why they are seeing me.  The longer the kids are in Title 1, I find they either end up having a learning disorder that is causing a gap in their achievement, or they lack practice time at home.  They are not good at directing themselves and they need strong structure and support to build skills as they grow and develop. Moreover, I know that I cannot excel in every area of classroom engagement. What this learning community has done has been to expose me to various best practices and theories along with building my research capacities.  Now that I have had a chance to grow and develop my engagement, my knowledge and skills will follow me as I move on from this learning community.  In the future, when high impact practices are introduced, practiced, and mastered, new ones can be focused on and incorporated in the classroom; thus, continuing to build a life long learning rich environment.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Technology Integration in Small Groups

Because I don't have any ipads at this time to use with my Title 1 kids, I am going to fall back on Haiku Deck for my tech tool that I have been playing around with and implementing lessons in my 2nd grade Title 1 groups. Before my ipads were taken to be updated with apps, I had the students use Haidu Deck for their story, The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash.  The kids started with note cards to aid in planing slides that include the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  They needed to have at least 5 slides and a sentence on each one.  This activity isn't the highest level of the SAMR model but it does provide picture connections to new vocab words along with building creative skills.  Once again they really enjoyed getting a chance to retell the story using a creative approach with their own chosen pictures.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blogging Communiy March Strategy

I have been so excited about a new mindset strategy I have been using with my groups as of last week.  This is for my spring AR but I have to share how it is going so far.  2 weeks ago I spent a class time sharing about the Growth Mindset with all of my 1st and 2nd graders.  We talked about putting aside all of our thoughts about I can't read, I'm stupid, I can't, I'm not good at this....and replace the sayings or add onto some of them with the work YET.  Instead we talked about working hard, putting in effort, it's not about how smart but how hard you work, everyone is at a different level of working hard, and some have to work harder than others.  We talked about how our brain makes connections when we read and that if we don't work hard, there are no connections.  So, we went online and picked out a flaming brain picture.  I made each student their own poster and everyday they come in having worked hard or making a connection, they draw a line on their brain from one side to another.  I also asked them what they learned when they read.  The first day, they had no idea what to say.  They couldn't even remember what they read.  Some didn't even read the night before.  Since that day, they have come in excited about working hard and they mostly can remember what they read.  They can even pull out themes from the stories.  I had a parent pull me aside and ask me what I was doing because her son was so excited to read the night before.  She shared how he normally threw a fit when reading and that for two nights he just got his book and sat down and did his reading.  She was so happy.  I can hardly wait to see if the kids stay motivated and begin to enjoy reading.  If we can change the mindset from I hate reading, to I enjoy reading I'll be happy.  Not that testing is the focus for this, but I hope their hard work will translate into an increase in fluency and comprehension on the spring assessments.