We are so lucky

I spent the last week working with several teachers and 1 principal learning and working on Best Practices in Math.  This could have gone pretty badly, but let me tell you it was GREAT.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The work I did this week has truly made me a better teacher.  I hope that the relaxation of summer does not dilute my intentions at this moment.  But the best part of this past week and the reason I felt compelled to write was my grand realization I had.  We have a lot of really good teachers in our district.  In the seven years I have been teaching and attending district provided professional development, this is the first time I have felt this way.  That is great for our district, but even better for our kids.  I wish we could collectively build a superteam of teachers for our school.  What a difference that would make.  A group of adults focused and dedicated to the same kind of learning.  Oh, the possibilities.

Aaah, that’s what document cameras are for!

I have heard many people talk about document cameras.  I always thought, “Yeah that’s nice, but I can do the same thing scanning documents with my SmartBoard.”  Well  I have spent this week in professional development learning about Best Practices in Mathematics.  And finally I get it!  I need (read need, not want) a document camera.  Gone should be the days when we have students go up to the board and copy their work from their papers.  What a waste of time, one.  Two, you miss some of the learning in translation from paper to board.  I get it now.  Now hopefully I will get a document camera too.

AzTea Way Out West Conference

I am at the WOW conference in Glendale.  I like this conference and have been coming for about 4 of the last 5 years.  It seems to have gotten smaller this year, not sure why.  Everyone’s budget I guess.  I can tell you I was bummed about missing the refreshments to start and the number of companies you were bombarded with before you could get to the keynote.  I know that sponsors carry this conference, but I don’t need to be hit over the head with it.  There are also a large number of presentations being given by sales reps and companies.  Also disappointing.  I am waiting for the first breakout to begin and the presenters out number the audience.  We’ll see……

Math standards…here we go!

I spent Monday and Tuesday working with teachers and coaches working on a pacing guide for our district.  It was very difficult but interesting work.  The new math standards will be a challenge to everyone, not just the students.  We have to look at the way we teach math differently.  Students are not prepared for this and it will be a challenge to get everyone to change their mindset and conceptual thinking.  I think that is only good for all of us to get math back to the way it used to be, not just teaching kids to compute and nothing else.  We will spend to more days to finish the pacing guide.  Hopefully it will be published quickly enough for teachers to work this summer and be prepared for next year.  New things to come.

What are we going to do?

Today was a day of big news for our school.  Big changes to come for next year as if we already didn’t have enough.  New leadership is scary and to throw in a large departure and restructuring of our staff.  Now everything is up in the air.   I hope the kids don’t get lost in the shuffle.  I hope the burden of this is not put on the backs of us who are left.

Teacher as Master Learner

I am working on my site and found some drafts that I never published.  I was hoping it would publish with the draft date, but it didn’t.  It was worthy of publishing, so here it is from December 18, 2008.  

I was listening to David Warlick’s podcast from 12/13 and he talked about the teacher as a master learner.  That makes me think about the journey that I am on now pursuing National Board Certification.  It is funny.  I can vividly remember my first or second year of teaching, there was an announcement about pursuing certification, and I thought, “Are they CRAZY??!!!  Who would want to do that???”  And here I am in the throws of it.  And I do think, “Am I CRAZY???”

The Big Let Down

Here it is 4 days after my portfolio was due and I am trying to let myself enjoy the downtime. But I can’t.  I’m ready to get started again. I want to get back to loving all of it.  AIMS is mostly over.  We just have to do the field test on Monday, then it’s back to business.  I’m not really sure I know or believe in what that means.  I think in the last efforts to prepare my students for 4th grade, I am saddened that I haven’t done more.  We are short on time now before they go to the fourth grade.  There is so much still to do.

Then there’s the other part of reality.  Teachers got notice that they’re being laid off yesterday.  That is sad that we have to let some of our school go.  What does that mean for those who are left?  Our job just got harder with way less resources.  As if it weren’t hard enough. I hope that those of use who are left can band together and keep some consistency with the good things we have going so far.

What is our state thinking?

Yes, everyone is in financial stress right now, but really what is in the best interest of kids is not cutting the budget by almost a billion dollars.  Our district is taking measures to address the cuts, bit it is going to be painful.  I realized the first of many hits when I realized that I can’t order the live animals that I need to finish my science unit.  This is a problem since I need to complete my science entry for my National Boards and time is running out.  I hate to think how it’s going to be when the subs really stop.  We had a trial run today, but on a regular basis, this is going to get old really fast.