Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 135 - Students are going crazy

Students are going crazy about their grades, especially my Seniors.  The last progress/quarter grade is due before the end of the year and SUDDENLY, everyone cares.  Students are forgetting my process. You must email me when you turn in late work- with specifics about what it is you turned in.  There is something about digital work that allows students to disconnect with due dates.  The physical handing in of something is so ingrained in their educational memory and experience that it seems like they conveniently assume things aren't really due or out of sight out of mind.  I think it is just one of those technology shift growing pains.  I imagine kids in a few years will be more used to it- I hope.

A-ha:  I guess there are a few things I miss about collecting "papers"- not the losing them or carrying them around everywhere.

Reminder: Success is often simply how well you can adapt to your surroundings.

DAY 134 - a good problem

Monday felt successful but confusing.  As requested by my students, we are doing even more socratic seminars.  This one was on whether Truman was justified to drop the Atomic Bombs", which morphed into "when is it okay to kill civilians?"  I am overjoyed that the kids were fighting over who gets to be in the first circle- as in wanting to be in the first circle.  However there was a sense of academic professionality that was lost with all of their excitement to speak, be heard etc.  SOOOO, the engagement is their but they seemed to have lost their norms and focus on listening.  Some of the nerves around socratic seminars are gone so I guess their concentration level changed.  This is a good problem, but I am scared to watch the video.

A-ha:  Learning is not linear in any way!!!

Reminder:  Routines are necessary, to allow more learning to pop up through the cracks, from the air, from wherever- and stick.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 133- Last Friday

Overwhelmed with guests from Germany an completely forgot to post for Friday!!! The best thing happened too-- a student came to me and explained how he did his make up work of writing lyrics to the tune of a popular song, about the difference between a command and market economy.  Make -up work, ya- no biggee- but he did it with his Dad.  "My Dad really enjoyed it Ms. MacLean".   Its like a dream come true, one of my students learning about and discussing economics with one of their parents.  I think they both learned too.

A-ha:  Maybe I should design my homework activities toward something the parents would enjoy....

Reminder:  Just because my Seniors have anxiety about thier grades, doesn't mean I have to take that on.  Stay in procedure. Turn in late work. Send me an email. Wait for me now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 132 - student centered

I felt very productive today.  US History played their PSA's today and we reviewed each one before taking the unit assessment and evaluating the project overall.   The kids feel like they learned, which is great.  The assessment says some of them did not learn as much as they think, or they were not able to convey it in the open ended questions.  Still they did show a lot of learning!  More importantly on the assignment review survey the majority of them said they learned a lot in this assignment- and they really enjoyed working with their teams( appointed by me).  Of course there was one group that was dissatisfied with their group and still haven't turned in a PSA yet.  I miscalculated the dynamics of those students. Can't win them all. I put two uninspired students in one group thinking they inspire each other...yeah- to do nothing and take no learning risks.

A-ha: I get to see my students hidden talents and thinking when they create things to reflect their content knowledge.

Reminder:  Student centered, student centered

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 131-pbu's

Seniors working on their community action projects, yearbook trying to finish their last deadline and US History finishing their final touches and uploading their PSA's  about WWII and what citizens on the homefront can do to win the war.  Lots of student centered, student driven, skill and content based work going on today.  I wasn't tired, cuz they were working just as hard as me.

A-ha:  I would like to spend some serious time designing more project based units and lessons.

Reminder:   Project based lessons( or any) work when the expectations are clear.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 130 - I should look into that...

Teaching, teaching, teaching.  That's my job and some days feel a little longer than others.  Its Tuesday and I don't have a prep but I do teach the same thing all day.  Maybe that's why it felt longer.  But it didn't feel bad; I actually felt good after - and accomplished.  Like a good workout that really starts to feel hard towards the end and you just want to give up but there are all these people at the gym looking at you and they might notice if you just gave up and quit because it was too hard.  Ya, we teachers don't ever get to just give up when its hard.  And today wasn't especially hard but imagine if we gave up as quick as our students do.  Maybe a part of me does give up towards the end of the day.  I should look into that...

A-ha:  I want to bring some awareness to where I may be giving up unknowingly...

Reminder:  no need to judge, just need to be empowered with awareness

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 129 - "clingy" teacher

Today a student said , "Ms. MacLean you're too clingy". "What do you mean by that?" "You're always on us, checking to see if we're working and how we're doing and stuff."  "well, then I'll take that as a compliment".
It is true. I do that.  I guess I'm clingy. I know my partner wishes I was more clingy. Maybe I should have her come to my classroom and I can check on her and assist her, and give her a lot of attention and help until she finishes my assignment. She might like that better than me coming home late from work and blogging at night before bed, instead of talking to her.  I read her my blog, so she'll get a chuckle out of this one.

A-ha:  I can be super attentive, just have to channel that at home!

Reminder: Students need "clingy" teachers, otherwise it feels like no one cares.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 128- and then there's Friday

Economics all day, demand curve shifters all day and lots of guided practice.   I like teaching things that are straight forward, like demand curve shifters-- here they are a ton of real world's a ton of headlines in the paper or online news source that we could use to identify these things.   Straightforward.  It makes me feel like an expert and really allows time for me to help the kids practice and apply their new learning and thinking.   That's what Friday was and it felt purposeful, effective and realistically challenging.

A-ha:  My blogs are shorter when I do them a day(or two) late.

Reminder:  Start putting some more visuals in my blog!!!! Get creative!

Day 127 - dramatic positive shift

I'm afraid to talk about the dramatic positive shift and change that has occurred in my US History class, because I don't want to jinx it.  My more rambunctious students are finally understanding situational appropriateness and correcting their own behavior often.  But better than that they are just behaving appropriately more often.  The change I think has to do with 1) lots of parent contact 2) help from admin 3) my consistency and 4) they are really enjoying the WWII project we are doing.

A-ha:  I can learn 100 different things from the same situation, so sometimes the universe hands me the same situation over and over again, so I can learn as much as possible.

Reminder:  We all hear what we need to hear when we're ready.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 126 - Wednesday(trying to catch up)

As students work on their community action projects, some are thriving and others are flailing.  The planning and organization comes more natural to some and vice versa.  As my anticipation and anxiety is growing, I'm sure the students is as well.  I am trying to stay focused in vision and possibility and still not try to etch out exactly what it is supposed to look like.  That whole trusting the universe thing and letting go.  When I say "let go", I think some people get scared like I'm just going to let whatever happen, happen.  "Letting go" for me, is actually very conscious and purposeful.  I must stay in the day to day necessities-what is right in front of us- what the kids need right now- while not holding on too tightly of how I think everything is supposed to turn out.  This takes a lot of work.  There is nothing passive about "letting go".  And watching things unfold and grow is much more interesting...

A-ha: I can only see so far...

Reminder: The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 124 & 125 : Conference time

Professional development and new ideas are things I need to keep me in a creative, growing space for the practice of my profession.  This annual conference(Educating for Careers) takes place in Sacramento and is based around bettering school Academies- which in California are SLC's(small learning communities) funded by the state. We have 7 at my school, wall to wall.  Most schools have 1-3, and then the rest of their school. The goals for these academies are to keep students in a smaller group with familiar teachers and students for a better sense of belonging, to have students learn about content material that is tailored more towards a career pathway sector, which ideally, would make all of their classes relevant to want they want to learn about and become in the future.  Easier said than done.  We work very hard at my school, but there is so much more which can be done.  Thus, this academy conference every year.
This year I also presented about the Community Action Project at my school and all of my ideas and resources about the power of any 20time project- especially if we as academies are to help students gain real world skills and be career and college ready.  It went well and many folks had never heard of 20time projects before or Kevin Brookhouser's book, 20 time project.

A-ha: Teachers want to be inspired by other teachers, and we need to be.

Reminder: Always check every link in my presentations on someone else's computer before I present.  My feedback link was not accessible.  That was good feedback.

Day 123: Friday before a conference

Kids want to learn.  Knowing I was going to be out Monday and Tuesday, the kids expressed dissatisfaction.  Of course, the surface part, my ego, feels good about this, but really the good news is that they want to to learn.  Without their teacher, students feel school isn't as useful. I hope they were kind to the subs (I'm sure they were), and managed to complete some assignments.  The prep it takes to leave is always way more work than the actual return of the students completed work.  Inevitably, I will have to re-assign or re-teach whatever was to go on a day that I was out.  I guess sometimes when the boss is away....

A-ha: Even when it doesn't feel like it, the kids count on us and expect us to be there every day.

Reminder: Keep the plan simple on sub days

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Day 122- Celebrate the victories

I'm tired, this will be short and sweet. My 11th graders were more productive today than I have seen in ,,,,ever.  All the hard work I put into the WWII Webquest assignment paid off and maybe they are finally believing all the praise about their capabilities.
After school a student was wondering why I stay there so late and another student quickly chimed in "because she loves us!"  I'm glad they know it.

A-ha:  Every set of kids is different, I just can't believe my heart just keeps making room for them.

Reminder:  Celebrate the victories.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day 121 - observing ourselves

Today my students were proud of themselves, and they had every right to be. We discussed our Socratic Seminar and their reflections, along with watched some exemplar clips.  They praised each other with specific examples, clearly articulated ways they would like to improve the seminars and resoundingly said- "we should do this more often".  The most surprising twist, they all wanted to watch themselves on the video! I loved telling them how proud I was to share the video with my CSET Hollyhock group from Stanford and how impressed the group was with their skills and knowledge. Letting kids share their thoughts in a supported academic setting is quite a moving experience for this teacher- especially as I see them observe and direct their own growth in the process.

A-ha: Having kids watch video of themselves learning helps them just as watching videos of my teaching, helps me.

Reminder:  Be sure to enact one of their suggestions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Day 120 - Like riding a roller coaster in slow motion

I keep thinking its Thursday but it is only Tuesday!!!  I feel like I have exerted four days worth of energy already, and tomorrow should be Friday!  But its not, and I have a phone appointment at 6 am!
OH well, in brighter news - the semester is flying- which is good and bad.  I have to try to let it go fast without it feeling like it is going fast.  Like riding a roller coaster in slow motion - that's what I would like the rest of the year to be like.
Self- care is down this week- no gym since Sunday and tomorrow may not be possible either.  There is a conference next week in Sacramento which helps me accept the busyness of this week, knowing next week I will be working with adults only for Monday and Tuesday.  Getting ready for next week is part of my busyness.  But I still must care for myself.  I left school way to late and not only didn't gym but didn't go to choir either.  Neglecting my spiritual and physical well being.  Cannot make a habit of this.  By Thursday, I think I'll feel caught up.

A-ha: The students are posting videos of me when I do funny things in class, like make up raps or sing songs, or dance...or...

Reminder: ask for the link next time!