Where have I been??

For those of you who know me personally, you know my husband and I recently started house hunting and it has been quite frustrating for us and there have been a few things in life that have taken a back seat. (read: the lull in my blogging is because house hunting is a full-time job). I’m writing today because of an inspiring day at #EdCampWake yesterday. This was my first time and if you haven’t been to one, you should. #EdCampBeach is coming in April! Here’s what an EdCamp is:

I went to sessions on Genius Hour, Equity, PBL, Blogging, and #BookSnaps. Something inspiring happened at every session EVEN the lunch break (mentioned below)! So here I am back in the saddle! I can’t promise that I will get back to posting regularly like before because house hunting is NO FUN! But I have some ideas ready to write about and I will get those ideas and reflections out there! Today I’m looking at standard 6 to finish off the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards.

Standard 6: Teachers contribute to the academic success of students: the work reflects in  acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth.

Woah! This is a big one. I think Bethany Gullion had it right yesterday at #EdCampWake. Teachers don’t like or agree with standardized testing and we don’t have to. The tests are not going away and we need to find a way  to use them to our advantage and help kids feel successful on them. My #oneword for assessments and the achievement gap #believe and #honesty. Ok that’s 2 but I think they are both important.

My class this year is competitive. First year I’ve had a group of kindergarteners so competitive. They love sports, speed tests, and scores. At recess they have races and “time” each other. (Note to self: get them a stopwatch. Counting is not standard measure of time). They are obsessed with winning and improving. I work daily to turn this passion of theirs into a growth mindset. I want them to look at progress over perfection, getting better over winning, and personal bests. We celebrate in my room when I collect data. Kinders love to celebrate even if they don’t know why they’re celebrating. If you’re excited, They’re excited. I try to be upfront with some of my struggling kinders too. Here’s a story:

One of my students struggles but does fine if I give him support. He is in the red (*gasp*) in all areas of mClass. I progress monitor him on PSF (Phonemic Segmentation Fluency – can he say all the sounds in a word). His middle of the year benchmark was 5 the benchmark goal is 20. Our first progress monitor was a 7.  Frist we celebrated his 2 point growth. Then, I told this sweet friend that we practice this every day during Letterland (phonics and phonemic awareness program) and asked him what he does during Letterland. His response, “I play with my friend beside me. I think about recess.” I love his honesty! I told him that if he wants to grow his score he needs to focus during Letterland, pay attention, and do and say all the things I ask during Letterland. He said, “Ok I will!” 10 days later I progress monitored again and his score was a 44. 44! All I did with him was be honest and use his data WITH him.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

It’s Tuesday before I track back in. My teacher work days start on Thursday and I’m getting myself in the mindset to begin fresh in my classroom in 2017.

When I began this blog a month ago my plan was to review the NC teacher evaluation standards to try to better understand how I’m evaluated as an educator. Some of my posts have gone on small tangents but I think that’s ok because telling my stories shows how I meet each standard. After this, I’ll be telling more stories


(because stories are what’s important) about my classroom and reflecting on some professional books I’m reading. Today I’m exploring:

Standard 5: Teachers Reflect on their Practice – Teachers analyze student learning, Teachers link professional growth to professional goals, Teachers function effectively in a complex, dynamic environment.

The whole purpose of this blog for me is to reflect on my practice.

I’m sure I don’t need to say it out loud because every teacher does this but for the record – I look at what my students already know and analyze it to figure out what I need to teach them. I do this through formative assessments, observation, and conversations with my students.

I’m going to tell you a secret: at some point in the last 2 years I lost some of my passion and my “why” of teaching. Seriously! I lost it. I couldn’t find it anywhere… I tried looking. I’ll admit to you why – I didn’t have professional goals.  This year I got myself back into my professional learning and trying new things and even reading (professional and personal reading). Guess what… my passion is back! My “why” came back! I’m more amped and ready to get to school this year! My goal this year is to make learning more playful for my students. I started this year reading Purposeful Play by Kristine Mraz, Alison Porcelli, and Cheryl Tyler. I’ll admit, I’m a slow reader so I only just finished it last week. But it’s a great book and I highly recommend it (even for upper grades teachers)! All kids like to play. This book isn’t just about choice time and centers. It’s about making all learning all day more playful. I’ll post about this book after I finish the NC teacher standards. The other thing that changed for me is Twitter (give me a follow if you don’t already)! Once I joined twitter and began hanging out there and connecting with educators from all over and hearing their excitement, my “why” came back to me. I’m a teacher for my students. They’re obviously my why and always have been. But this year, I’m into them more. I want to build relationships and get to know their interests more. I’ve enjoyed twitter chats. I’m still slow at it and not consistently participating in any. I’m looking to grow my PLN so please comment some people I should follow, hashtags to check, and your favorite twitter chat (with the day and time)!

Our world is complex and dynamic and therefore our classrooms must be as well. It is our task as teachers to help prepare students for the fast paced world they will be entering. As teachers we need to embrace the complex and dynamic world and make our classrooms that way but first we need to be able to function in it. I’m flexible and I embrace change. It might take me a while to embrace it because I like to understand it but once I do, LOOK OUT! I’m a jump in the deep end kind of person! I will take new initiatives hook, line, and sinker (when I’m ready)! I’ve heard of teacher blogs. I’ve read a few but not consistently. I wanted to start one but never did until last month because I didn’t think mine would be any good and I wouldn’t have any readers. But I’ve grown. My blog is not for you #sorrynotsorry it’s for me. My next goal for blogging is to become an avid reader of other’s blogs. Right now I follow Kim Collins, Bill Ferriter, and George Couros. So, if your reading this… give me some ideas of who else to read and follow them.

Can’t stop… Won’t stop…

I’m already excited to post again. I was nervous about this at first. I feel self conscious putting my thoughts in a public space but a new PLN friend encouraged me – this is for me.  Thanks Bill! Also, I learned a new trick – links in my post (don’t laugh I’m learning!).

My plan for this blog is for it to stand as my portfolio. I want to collect my growth and best work all while growing a positive digital footprint. So today I want to look closely at the standards I’m evaluated on and see if I can understand them better.

Standard 1 – teachers demonstrate leadership – classroom, school, profession, advocate, high ethical standards

I think that leading in my classroom and school and upholding high ethical standards comes easily for me. They’re kind of a given… A duh!moment.  How could I teach and not lead my students or take on some leadership role in my school? I don’t think I’d be effective… Educators have long be held to high ethical standards. We’re role models for our students. The families and community we serve expect a lot out of us. These are the easy sub standards.

The ones that make us stand out are leading in the profession and advocating for schools and students. My goal in life is to grow up to be just like my all time favorite teacher Dr. Mira Berkley. She is my most favorite professor from college. She is a guru of early childhood education. She is passionate and a leader in the field as well as an advocate for everything developmentally appropriate. I want to be all of those things! In my near future I plan to return to school for my doctorate degree then pursue a career in educating future educators. I see this blog as my way of pushing forward to becoming more of a leader in the profession and then advocating for students and schools will come…

Standard 2 – teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students –  positive nurturing relationship, embrace diversity, treat students as individuals, adapt teaching for special needs, collaborate with families

In my humble opinion this standard needs to be observed overtime and needs to be part of a teachers belief system. This isn’t something you can fake. You have to believe that diversity is an important part of a community. I work hard to create a classroom community each year with my young kinders. We regularly talk about the differences and similarities between us. I encourage them to all be friends and to include each other during play. I reach out to my families to learn about their home cultures and traditions. We include those in our classroom discussions. When it comes to diversity positivity is key. I think that diversity comes in many shapes and sizes. It isn’t all the color of our skin. We also have to look at religions, socioeconomic status, and other cultural aspects. Every student in my class is important to me and so is their happiness and well-being. Of course I care about their academics, but the whole child is in my classroom not just their brain. I give hugs when they need love, food when they are hungry, sleep time when they are tired, and band-aids fix most everything else. 🙂 When it comes to academics, I challenge my students as they need it at their own levels. I differentiate lessons, center activities, and homework. None of this is easy but it’s the right way to do it and it’s what needs to be done for the kids. At the end of the day… it’s all about the kids.

So I’ve come to realize that talking about the standards is going to take me a while and in an effort not to make this post a mile long, I’m going to stop here.  I’ll be back soon to talk my way through some of the other teaching standards.

Please comment with your thoughts on these standards!