. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Another Year Done

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Year Done


Smell that?

That's the scent of freedom!

Sweet, isn't it?

I started my summer vacation today. Time to clean out my brain of all that teacher clutter and begin the decompression process.

The process itself is simple:

1. Stop teaching.
2. Drink margaritas (starting at breakfast).

As with any lesson, the valuable learning occurs after the lesson is complete and you've had time to reflect on what went well, and what you'd do different in the future.

What went well this year:

1. Teaming. I heart teaming with my teaching partners. Sharing a vision of student success and working together to make it happen is more rewarding than I could ever have imagined when I taught in a self-contained classroom. Teaming isn't for everyone, and I'm fine with that. It sure works for us though.

2. We had GREAT kids. Yes, even George can look ok...

...in my rearview mirror.

That being said, I really enjoyed working with this group of kiddos. They were excited about learning, sweet in disposition, and an overall joy to teach. They will be missed.

3. We had awesome parents who supported our unique way of teaching. What we do is different, and different can be scary for some, but they hung in there with us. In the end, many parents expressed appreciation for what we do and told us how much they enjoyed their year with us, which is simply the...


Now for the tough part...

What I'd do differently:

1. I talk a good game about wanting parent involvement in the classroom, however I haven't perfected my method of inclusion. I want parents to feel welcome, be there often, and have valuable things to do while they're on campus. In the future, I will include them more in my daily routines. Maybe you people can share some of your ideas with me? Please!

2. Patience. I need to have more patience. Patience with the students, their parents, my coworkers, and myself.  Loud-mouthedness I got. Sarcasm I got. Wordiness I got. Patience? Well, let's just say it's not winning the race with the other personality traits I have. I wish it would hurry up. I'm sick of waiting!

Besides, I hear it's a virtue. Who couldn't use more of those?

3. Incorporate more technology in the classroom. My history with it has been spotty, but it sure is a motivator for kids. As challenging as it can be on my nerves (see "patience" above), it is a necessary evil if my students are going to be at all successful in the future.

4. And finally, find time to blog more often. Lots of funny shi... stuff happens every day in school, and I need to find time to share it. More importantly, writing keeps me sane. The birth of this blog was a purely selfish attempt to keep myself sane in a job that was driving me crazy. I don't want me to go nuts. I don't have the time or the patience to fix it if I do!

That's enough reflection for now. It's time to go relax in the California shade, because sun is bad for us mole people, and enjoy a margarita. You know what they say:

It's 8:00 AM somewhere in the world!


KUStacey said...

Congrats on the last day and finally starting your summer break! I can't believe it is so late...I've already been out for more than a month. Alas, I will return in early August while you are still lounging by the pool.
As for parent involvement, I often send an email newsletter at certain times of the year asking for parents/grandparents/family friends with certain areas of expertise related to curriculum. You'd be surprised how many are willing to come in to do special projects or lessons with the kids. I've had a chemistry professor parent make liquid nitrogen ice cream with the kids, another heart surgeon father do multiple demonstrations and show an actual procedure he did, a high school science teacher show them advanced experiments and explain them, an ENT, an optometrist, a dental hygienist, even an Olympic athlete. I also get them involved as "photographers". When we are going to be something interesting in class like presentations or experiments, I always invite a parent to come to take pictures since I'm often too busy to take this time. I hope this helps! Don't stress about it too much, and enjoy those margaritas!

Edna Lee said...

Those are great ideas, Stacey! Thanks for sharing.

I'm sorry to hear that you're already halfway done with your vacay, but I hope it's been a good one.


Anonymous said...

Happy summer! it's great to reflect on the year and looks at the highs and lows. I'm also interested in getting parents involved and i think it's so important. If you get any good tips, please do share! :)

Alex T. Valencic said...

In addition to Stacey's suggestions to have parents who have real world experience with a lesson area, I would encourage parents who want to come into the classroom to just let students read to them or have them help students with independent work.

In the district I spend a lot of time subbing in, we have America Reads tutors who, oddly enough, tutor in just about anything. Every teacher agrees that it is impossible to have too many tutors!

About This Blog said...

Hi Edna! I hope you're enjoying your summer vacay! I just stumbled upon your blog and have been laughing out loud for a good hour. You seem to have such great ideas and great relationships with your students... I just accepted my first EVER teaching job (3rd grade) and couldn't be more excited... or nervous! Do you have any advice for a first year teacher? Also, school starts Aug. 22nd and I won't have access to curriculum, materials, or my classroom until August 1st... I'm kinda freaking out! Will that be enough time to do EVERYTHING?

Edna Lee said...

Hi En-In!

Congrats on the new j-o-b! Even though I don't even really know you, I'm so proud of you!!

Anticipation of that first day of school can be so overwhelming. I remember staring at that room full of kids and thinking, "Holy Crap! I really am responsible for teaching all of YOU?!?!" Of course, THAT won't be your reaction...

As far as getting ready is concerned, you have plenty of time. You don't have to plan the whole year out, just the first week! Screw it, get the first day planned and then worry about the other 4 days after it's done. Best advice I have: Find out who else is in your grade level, bring them Starbucks, and then raid their bags of tricks, flash drives, and filing cabinets like a pirate on a Spanish ship. They probably can give you much of what you'll need as far as curriculum ideas, schedules, first day/week activities, etc...

BTW: IMHO, first week of school is strictly about teaching classroom procedures and setting behavior expectations. Do the ground work early on, and you'll have a much easier year than if you wait until it's broken to fix it. Be explicit about what you want, teach it, and then practice the heck outta it. We walk in a lot of quiet lines the first week of school, however after that I don't have to worry about it much for the rest of the year. The same holds true for in-class behavior expectations.

Please keep me posted on how it's going and let me know if I can be of any help from out here in cyberspace (DearEdnaLee@gmail.com). I taught 3rd grade for years and it's a great age. You're gonna love 'em!

Enjoy your career and remember why you wanted to do this. Being entrusted with a child's future is a privilege and we must treat it as such.



William Smith said...

I like how you post both the good and the areas of growth. I can relate to you areas of improvement and hope that my parent involvement improves as well. Have a fabulous summer break.

William Smith