Day 30: RT – if you weren’t afraid

I can’t believe I’ve reached the end of this challenge.  I know I’ve learned a lot about myself as a teacher over the past month.  I’m so glad I found this challenge and decided to take part in it even if it was a month late. 🙂  With that in mind here’s day 30:

What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?

I have absolutely no idea.  I’ve been thinking about this for days. (I like to read ahead on the questions)  I just really don’t know.  I might give my students more freedom to determine what they learn, in what order, and how, though I’m afraid of this do to the logistics of a classroom of 20 kiddos each doing their own thing, and the fear that they’d see what others are doing and not finish what they’re working on instead jumping to what others are doing.  Maybe if I give them a list of things that have to be done by a certain time and let them choose the order they do them in this might be a step in that direction.

More simple and base than that I might just say to a child “you know others would stop saying mean things to you if you’d quit being mean to them.”  There are students I have now who cry and cry when others say things like “I don’t want to be your friend anymore” and yet the crier is often the one that started everything in the first place, I get frustrated with them and I want to say “well that’s what you get for being a brat!”  On second thought nope even if I wasn’t afraid I don’t think I’d do that.

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Day 29: RT – change as an educator

How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

For starters I’m less afraid to ask for help.  I think when I started I felt like I would be judged as lacking if I had to ask for help with a student.  Now I go to my teammates, I talk to parents, the counselor and the administration if necessary.

I’ve moved away from the book only.  On the end of year teacher evaluation my first year the principal wrote that I needed to expand to other types of enrichment to something other than worksheets.  I leaned hard on the textbook and it’s resources.  Part of that was the fact that I was teaching middle school com arts when my training and education was elementary and early childhood, part was lack of confidence.  Through the years I have moved away from textbooks and teacher’s guides.  When I do use textbook worksheets I create the scoring guide on my own, I don’t trust the TG anymore.  I’ve seen too many mistakes, besides it keeps my knowledge sharper to practice the work each year.

My classroom management skills are also much better now than my first year and then I was fortunate enough to have a very set plan in place in my building.  I still struggled.  I did have some tough kids, see I started after the school year began, the building suddenly had an influx of students enrolling.  The students were asked who was willing to switch classes.  For my challenge class that was no big deal for my regular com arts class I got some great kids and some who had already pushed their luck in the room they were in and moved a few steps on the behavior/discipline chart, unfortunately for me that information did not come with the kids.  I had 4 students who spent more time in ISS than in classes.  I saw them when I covered the ISS teacher’s breaks during my classroom assistant hours.  Again though this goes back to my not asking for help, I was afraid if I couldn’t keep control of my class on my own without asking for help that I wouldn’t be hired again.  Looking back I think it is more likely that it would be taken as a sign of a teacher who’s willing to admit a weakness and use resources.  In the years since I have attended several workshops on classroom management  and been in schools with very defined steps and schools with no guidance for teachers.  I have to say I prefer the schools with set steps at least in elementary and to some extent middle school.  I think it makes it easier for students, especially young students.

Day 28: technology and curriculum

Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

In my classroom yes because I teach technology. My lessons are based on what technology knowledge my students need each year and what they will need the following year.  Preparing them to live and work in a technologically rich society is one of my main objectives. In a standard classroom no, I think technology should be an aid, a way to convey the curriculum but not the drive behind curriculum.

Day 27: RT – weekends

What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

Weekends and holidays are my time to destress and recharge my battery.  They are also the time I spend with my family and friends which is I suppose part of my destressing.  I do however spend time on weekends and holidays planning for future lessons, trying out new things online that I might want to use in my classroom, and occasionally have my own kiddo try those things out to see how they might work with my students.  I think without weekends I might end up being a not so nice, not so calm, not so patient teacher.

Day 26: RT – online resources

What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

Pinterest – I have ummmm 22 classroom boards, so I search the appropriate board first and then I search Pinterest as a whole for ideas.

Elementary Tech Teachers – I mentioned this in my PLN post.  I go there to find ideas, ask questions, sometimes just to browse.

Google search – Let’s be honest here the tool I use most, even more than Pinterest, is Google search.  It’s the first thing I do when looking to solve a problem or looking for new ideas on how to teach something, of course when I find something then I pin it 😉

Day 25: RT – Student collaboration

The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

Short and simple: Kagan teams.

When using Kagan structures I began to see the exact kinds of student collaboration I had always wanted to see in my rooms.  It was what I hoped for each time I put students in groups to work together and rarely if ever got.

While using Kagan structures my students learned to all take a turn, no one got to skip a turn, everyone had to participate and respond to others there was no sitting back and letting everyone else do the work.  Students who had previously been afraid to volunteer when I asked a question of the whole class began to do so.  Students others had overlooked because they were quiet or shy began to be looked at as someone who had something worthwhile to contribute.

For me the ideal collaboration results in all students learning together and from one another.  Students all assist with whatever the project or end goal is and take pride in their team.

Day 24: RT – learning trends

Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)

I think the trend that has most caught my attention of late is the Flipped Classroom.  I’ll be honest I haven’t had the chance to learn as much about it as I’d like just yet but it intrigues me.  The idea of assigning videos or websites to investigate at home and then discussing them or completing work in the classroom is really interesting to me.  The first thing I thought of when I heard of this approach was “what about those kids that don’t have access to technology at home?”  then it also reminded me a bit of the English classes I had in high school, read the book at home then discuss in class.  I had gotten away from that style in my classroom preferring to read the book together in class and discuss throughout the reading.  My husband taught at a college for a while and he took training on the flipped classroom, when he came home I begged his notes off of him but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough information to give me a complete picture.  I’d really like to observe a classroom using this technique to get a real-world idea of how this works.