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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One Goal This Year

This year I am redoubling my efforts to communicate with parents.  In the past, I have always emailed or called home if there was a problem or if something spectacular happened, but it was not even close to a regular routine for me.  I tweeted out some of the happenings in our classes, had the students tweet out examples of their learning and wrote the occasional blog post.

I want this year to be different!

I started the first day of school with a goal of at least 5 positive emails home that were student specific and included at least a couple details that were specific to their son or daughter so it wasn't a form email being sent home.  At first it was a task that I wanted to include in my routine.  Now it is so much more.  On several occasions this year, I have been having a down moment or a moment of frustration with my colleagues and I've consciously chosen right then to write the emails.  It completely changed my day around!  I now crave celebrating my students every day!  I am constantly on the lookout for positive examples of how their son or daughter is being a leader or how they have improved in class or a light bulb that finally went off as they "got it" after a brief or long struggle.

As of this blog post, I've sent out 127 emails.  Some days I get on a roll and send out more than 5, but 5 is the minimum.  I've only received about 20 responses, but those 20 have always made me smile as the parents get a look into the successes of their son or daughter in school.

I have also included a @smorepages for each class so the parents can get a peek into what we are doing and the projects that they have completed.  The projects that are linked into the smores right now are not my typical project because in essence they are a recipe since it was only on a Google Slides where they had to show evidence of how the terms/concepts relate to their lives.  I like to start off with this type of project so that the students can get used to using the Chromebooks and utilizing GAFE before we dive into more diverse projects.

Here are the links to the Smores:

https://www.smore.com/68rmh
https://www.smore.com/999p3
https://www.smore.com/35thc
https://www.smore.com/2ezqn

It is my goal to keep emailing parents with positive feedback and to keep these Smores up to date.

Will you help hold me accountable?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What if?

After a day in which the lessons I planned didn't quite go as planned and several discussions with a colleague while out walking,  I went to a PBL training and have been doing nothing but thinking about "what if?"

What if we didn't beat out the natural desire to figure things out on their own our students are born with?

What if we could re-ignite the inner learner all teachers had at one point?

What if we restructured our day around inquiry based learning and not test prep?

What if we allowed MOOC courses for students interested in taking classes outside the expertise of the brick and mortar staff, that would count for graduation credit?

What if we had an EdCamp style where if a student doesn't feel they are learning, they could get up and go somewhere they could learn more?

What if our students were so used to being given choice and voice in their learning that if we didn't include that in our lesson, they would speak up?

What if we were creating environments for our students that they learned to trust their gut as to whether it was "right" or "good enough" instead of relying on us to determine that?

What if our students directed their own learning and relished the opportunity to do so?

What if we used PBL to help solve  more problems in our local neighborhoods instead of relying on fictitious scenarios that we made up solely for the lesson?

What if everything our students created was shared publicly so authentic eyes were on it and not just ours?

What if we were able to re-engage the disaffected parents in our district?

What if our students developed a way for us to meet the needs of our hungry community members in a way that is sustainable?

What if we had programs that allowed students interested in any topic to gain an advanced or two year degree by the time they graduated if they are working at an accelerated rate?

What if we had internships for any student who wanted to pursue one?

What if we connected with experts in the field to help us in the classroom on a regular basis?

What if we didn't have study halls and instead had time for passion projects or genius hour?

What if we weren't cutting art and music time and money to focus more on "what's on the test'?

What if all teachers sought out PD on their own?

What if teachers understood that using tech to simply give an eWorksheet were missing out on the true power that tech could (if harnessed correctly) provide?

What if every student came to school having had a good night's sleep and food in their stomach?

What if every student felt they could make a difference in our local community as well as the global community?

What if students realized that the path they are on can be changed if they want it to and they are not predestined to that path?

What if we offered alternative break plans like going to South Carolina to help rebuild after their devastating flood?

What if we made our schools more energy efficient through the efforts/ideas of our students.

What if our schools became energy producers instead of consumers because our students devised a way for that to happen?

These are just some of the things I've been thinking about in the last day.  I have work to do to help make these a reality.

What are your what ifs?