Each new school year, I look forward to hearing our leaders illuminate their visions. Superintendent of Schools for Wicomico County, Dr. Donna Hanlin, shared a powerful message at our New Teacher Breakfast this past week, and she challenged all of us to consider our motivations for teaching while empowering us to be the best we can be for our students' success. Please see her points below - as well as the inspiring video she shared.
1. Maintain your belief that there is no such thing as an "unteachable" child.
2. Think beyond the written curriculum. What produces good citizens? Good people?
3. Create a passion-driven learning environment. Take risks and learn from your mistakes.
4. Remember that relationships come first. Students need to know you believe in them.
5. Surround yourself with positive people. You can't do this alone.
6. Return the shopping cart to the rack. Be aware of the impacts of your actions on others.
Warm days appear, and students and staff alike start thinking about summer - planning for rest and relaxation. However, there is much to accomplish at this time of year, and there is a lot at stake. Summative assessments and final marking term grades carry a lot of weight, and teachers feel the pressure to prepare for standardized tests and complete challenging curriculums. How can we get the most out of ourselves and our students at this point?
First, it's a good idea to do some self-reflection by asking yourself: What is my energy level like right now? Am I working late without a break? What have I done for myself lately that lifts my spirit, sparks humor, or engages creativity?
Second, teachers can provide opportunities for students to do some self-reflection: How are they feeling moving into the final quarter? In a quick survey, it's possible to uncover students' favorite lessons and activities to date. Students can also rank or prioritize remaining curriculum-related topics, based on interest; this work could be the foundation of an independent, summative project. Students can also help create Essential and Guiding questions for a unit and help design choices for demonstrating their learning. With guidance, they can even help create checklists and rubrics to assess this learning, based on their content standards. When they are able to give input and make choices, students' motivation increases!
Check out these files about the Question Formulation Technique. It's a highly engaging, low-prep strategy, and it can jumpstart a new unit for you and your students!
Question Formulation Techique:
September is an exciting month as you get to learn more about your students and participate in school-wide events. You will also notice that as you feel more comfortable, so will your students. If you see unwanted behaviors popping up, make sure to address them right away by restating expectations, practicing procedures, and holding students accountable for their behavior using progressive discipline.
Later this month, you will attend professional development with your peers at the board of education on Northgate Drive; your supervisor will be sharing more about this. You will be attending a half-day session, and substitutes will be provided. Please check with the appropriate administrator to make sure that a sub has been scheduled for your absence. You will also need to leave substitute plans. Check out the TEMPLATES TAB in the menu bar to help you create a folder to leave. You should let your team and/or department chair know where these plans are located. The office may require you to leave them in a special location. Be sure to review with your students you expectations of work and behavior before you leave.
Midterm reports will be upon us shortly; be sure to keep up with grading and entering the grades into X2. If you are still having trouble with X2, please let me know. I'll be glad to come over and work out the kinks with you. Remember that grading is only important to students if they get that feedback quickly so that they can improve. If you get behind in grading, I can share tips to help.
Finally, how are you feeling about planning? If you need assistance with short or long-term planning, feel free to contact your literacy coach or me for help.