1st Week Reflections

Hello all,

After being away from the classroom for 2 years I have felt some new resolution around the first clumsy days of school. When I say clumsy; students and educators alike are often getting our feet wet, understanding what we are to be doing, where to go, who to talk to and how to manage new demands.

It is not an upstream battle, we can do better than that.

I looked at previous lesson plans and thought “what in the heck was I thinking?”… I loaded pounds of instructional expectations with the depth of objectives within the first two weeks, although this may seem pedagogically wise, it was horribly harmful, and instructional thickness simply went against the grain. This includes the breadth of procedures and transitions we often expect of students. In the past, I would load rules, and procedures to the class as quickly as feasible. I still completed the responsive classroom by getting to know kids, participating in standard morning meeting and greetings. Except, the immersion of skills was too fast and too fierce.

After enough time away to step back and reflect it became clear; we all need to breathe, find moments of calm, silence, dancing, celebration, more model,  less pushing, redefining reflection and ramping up relationship building. It was also discovered students are quite similar to us teachers in that kids seek a safe sanctuary. So we have been working on calm and expectation absorption collectively…

The results of creating a responsive, ‘non-rush’/no push’ first few days have been much more successful. While slowing down typical lesson immersion versus living by the curriculum routine or diving into deep rules, and policies.  The development of comfortable silence, collaboration, student talking time has resulted in moving slow to move fast.

So the story is: consider stopping the push, release the self-guilt for the need to front-load curriculum and instead allow for absorption of information, the process of procedures, and let the entire classroom ecosystem endure all of the changes and endeavors they are facing in real-time. No loud voices, no frustration, no going against the grain: leave time, allow breaks, expect the unexpected and embrace it, let up on the pressure and see what happens. Even just for a ‘trial’ day!

 

 

First Day Jitters eradicated with Play Dough

The makings of the first day of school bring all sorts of emotions and chaos. Students, families and teachers alike feel the tensions and excitement.

Play Dough you say??? Yes, Play Dough from toddlers to Plato is a tool for learning, easing tensions and developing creative results. The work of play provides a magnitude of learning opportunities.

Play Dough helps students keep their hands busy and minds relaxed. Words can be difficult to express in adults, not to mention 1st-day students, using a tool to show a representation of an experience, feelings or communicate therapists say is powerful.

This is why I will be using Play Dough on the first day to build self-esteem, imagination, and create a culture of calmness.

This is not child’s play this is an expressive work of the heart that involves engagement, openness and the ability to develop self-autonomy thoughts and ideas.

Impact

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming (Ginott, 1993, p. 47).

What Are Our Students Craving?

By: Amy Cooper
What can we as educators unbundle from typical grading or the prominent practices of report cards we have happening… by making an important caveat: Are traditional assessments for young learners exclusive or discriminatory?
As a fact of educational assessment positioning, over the past three decades of typical progress reporting in public education, schools have been regularly assigning report cards, and standardized tests; yet, we as stake-holders often overlook the A-F or 1-3 rankings, we as educators, students and parents have little understanding of what these letters or numbers represent about a student’s mastery, competency, skill-base or growth (Thomas, 2017).
Consider the greater concern of what message these symbols of A-F or 1-4 mean to our students? Current research states that typical grades are so vague to our students, parents and even teachers they are near meaningless. Yet, we continue to carry on with these antique modes.
My research has begun to gather data to analyze the impact of typical report cards on students. The standard report cards were found to be: unmotivating, meaningless, and even harmful to student confidence. Meanwhile, micro-credentials; which show detailed experience and growth for students are showing promising results. Thus far, the research has proved that students, are self-motivated, growing in leaps and bounds, remaining engaged and closing the equity-gap. In a northeastern school district implementing digital badges, NWEA (a nationally normed test), showed improved skill bases in kindergarteners by more than 30%.
This emerging data is telling. When students are able to show their learning in dynamic ways that which is experience based and an authentic representation of student knowledge; children flourish. With alternative tools of assessment such as digital badges, students begin tackling specific goals at their level, children respond positively and attain more skills while gaining mastery.
If the American education domain is to provide opportunities and learning for students we need to consider our current status of evaluating students. Our students are the consumers of education. We ought to take a look at what the students in our education system need and desire. Are we promoting growth, mastery, opportunity and validating appropriate skills students are gaining?

References
P.L. Thomas (2017), professor of education (Furman University, Greenville, SC), is author of Beware the Roadbuilders and Trumplandia (Garn Press).

Students Crave Meaningful Reports.

By: Amy Cooper

What can we as educators unbundle from typical grading or the prominent practices of report cards we have happening…  by making an important caveat: Are traditional assessments for young learners exclusive or discriminatory?

As a fact of educational assessment positioning, over the past three decades of typical progress reporting in public education, schools have been regularly assigning report cards, and standardized tests; yet, we as stake-holders often overlook the A-F or 1-3 rankings, we as educators, students and parents have little understanding of what these letters or numbers represent about a student’s mastery, competency, skill-base or growth (Thomas, 2017).

Consider the greater concern of what message these symbols of A-F or 1-4 mean to our students? Current research states that typical grades are so vague to our students, parents and even teachers they are near meaningless. Yet, we continue to carry on with these antique modes.

My research has begun to gather data to analyze the impact of typical report cards on students. The standard report cards were found to be: unmotivating, meaningless, and even harmful to student confidence. Meanwhile, micro-credentials; which show detailed experience and growth for students are showing promising results. Thus far, the research has proved that students, are self-motivated, growing in leaps and bounds, remaining engaged and closing the equity-gap. In a northeastern school district implementing digital badges, NWEA (a nationally normed test), showed improved skill bases in kindergarteners by more than 30%.

This emerging data is telling. When students are able to show their learning in dynamic ways that which is experience based and an authentic representation of student knowledge; children flourish. With alternative tools of assessment such as digital badges, students begin tackling specific goals at their level, children respond positively and attain more skills while gaining mastery.

If the American education domain is to provide opportunities and learning for students we need to consider our current status of evaluating students. Our students are the consumers of education. We ought to take a look at what the students in our education system need and desire. Are we promoting growth, mastery, opportunity and validating appropriate skills students are gaining?

 

 

 

Digital Badging Student Perspective

These words appeared most often in the teacher perspective of student feelings about badging in a qualitative research report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

P.L. Thomas (2017), professor of education (Furman University, Greenville, SC), is author of Beware the Roadbuilders and Trumplandia (Garn Press).

 

Failure Could It Be The Critical Edge We Need?

I have learned as a struggling student that deep failure is built on a contradiction: slipping and finding ground again— creating an edge, a test, a trial of grit. If we do not pay attention we miss understanding that our greatest failures are the true moments in which we find the growth. That moment of progression in which we gained by grappling and sliding and finding our feet again. We grow as practitioners, as students, or as humans working to differentiate our experiences to move forward. We need opportunities in our systems whatever that might be to move forward, try again. and yes… FAIL. Sometimes lost in frustration of the failure; we lack the realization that the loss can develop deep practice, diligence, and perseverance that are long-lasting. When have you failed and what has this done for you?