Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reflections on the Positive

It's been a whirlwind month! I've been so busy enjoying my class, that I've had very little time to really reflect on this blog. This week has been a week with several thoughts rolling around in my mind. Of course, many edu-bloggers are taking this week to address Oprah's two episodes on the Education system in the United States, along with the new movie Waiting for Superman. That was one idea, but I sometimes get tired of hearing about the whole debate. If you want to read some good blogs about that, I suggest you go here, or here.

Instead, I wanted to share something that's been going on in my classroom! As I mentioned in my last post, I have started a class blog. An important part of this blog has been a page devoted to a district-wide initiative called "Celebrate What's Right with the World". Every day, I post something that our class needs to celebrate. More often than not, it's something that a student did really well, though sometimes I add something that our whole class did well. It's even more special when another teacher passes on something to celebrate about our class!

So why am I finding this so important? It's completely changed my point of view! This year, I've moved up from first to second grade, and so I've taken some of my students from last year with me... several of them were quite challenging last year. But this year, I've noticed a huge difference! I believe part of it has definitely been that they have matured... but now, my outlook has changed completely!

I wouldn't say I ever was looking for people to do "bad" things, but looking specifically to catch someone doing something great is such a powerful way to change my outlook! In fact, at our "Meet the Teacher" night, while it was a poor turnout, the one parent I did meet was ecstatic about the website. Her daughter's father lives over an hour away, and this way, he is able to connect with his daughter's learning, even though they aren't able to see each other every day. And of course, mom was beside herself because her daughter had been celebrated that very day for finding tons of patterns!

So if you're struggling in your class, I ask you to look for the good things that you can celebrate. It sounds totally cheesy, but it works! Some days it will be harder than others, but you'll be blown away at the difference it makes.

Stay positive!

(Now I must go update the Celebrate page! It seems I've forgotten to update it!)

Note: After posting this, I realized I had completely neglected to give credit where credit is due! A teacher I worked with for a few months last year had this idea for her classroom blog last year, and I am just copying her great idea! Thanks Deb Hicks!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reflections on Parent Communication

Last night, at the end of the first week of school, I had the pleasure of reading through my first homework assignment for the year. It was an assignment that I had read about on numerous websites, and from several different people. I decided this year, that I was going to have my parents all respond to the following prompt: "Tell me about your child in 1 000 000 words or less."

WOW! I was amazed with all the answers! Of course, I don't plan on going into the specifics of what I read, but there was such a wealth of information. I will admit that I anticipated a large amount of parent bragging about how wonderful their child was, and how they could do no wrong. Boy, was I ever wrong! While each parent did praise their child (and rightfully so!) They were each very honest about strengths and weaknesses. The biggest thing I was surprised about was that if I took the names off of the assignments, I think after four mornings with these students, I could figure out which assignment belonged to which student! While there was definitely information that was helpful to me, it was also great to see that the parents and I were both looking at each child and seeing the same thing!

My next step is something I hadn't originally planned. After reading each assignment last night, and grinning from ear to ear, I knew that I couldn't just hold on to these answers that were so beautifully written. This required a response. Over the next few weeks, I am looking forward to calling home and thanking each parent for completing the assignment. This assignment had me so excited to see what's coming as the year progresses!

Also, as an added blog bonus, feel free to check out our classroom website, something else I'm very excited about!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reflections on the First Day

Wow... day one is over, and it flew by!

I have to say, I was really concerned, between parents finding out that their main teacher would only be there in the mornings, and some parents discovering their child had the same teacher as last year (though I hoped it wouldn't be a problem, it was still a question in my mind).

It was a great day! I decided to dive right into Math, and the very first thing we did was sort out some flyers that were to go home with students today. I gave piles to each table, and each student was responsible for counting out the right amount of flyers for each classroom, based on the numbers I had. But wait! What happens if new students arrived in some classes, after I had already done the count? We had better add two more, just in case!

But I bet some of these teachers won't realize how smart our grade two class really is, and they'll be worried we haven't counted correctly. How can we prove that we got the right count more easily? "Organize in groups of ten!" said one student! PERFECT! Exactly what I wanted!

So off they went, to put paper clips around groups of ten. Then we made a quick chart for how many packs we had for each classroom, and how many loose. Some students made the connection, while some had trouble... but they were all excited! It was authentic learning at its best! I look forward to doing more Math investigations like this as the year goes on.

If I was to improve this idea, I would spread the investigation out over several days... I felt rushed, as I wanted to make sure these flyers got out today, and while we made some great discoveries, it could have been so much better had I given it the time it deserved.

After a project like this, I really look forward to the rest of the year!