Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Asking for Feedback

I am always open to suggestions for how I can improve my practice-however, sometimes it's hard to ask for those suggestions because you know there are some unhappy with their experience. And that's hard to hear. Especially for someone like me-teaching is not just a job for me, it's my life! If you tell me I'm not doing a good job, that will just deflate me.

Parents have been unhappy with my performance over the years, as have administrators and even students. I think one of the hardest things about our job as teachers is trying to do lessons that will make everyone happy.

I ask my students for feedback throughout the year. I ask them what does Miss Trayers like? (if they answer with a student's name that makes me rethink my classroom community activities). I ask what Miss Trayers does not like? (again if they say a student's name here, that crushes me). I ask them for suggestions of what they want to see more of in class, less of. We do this activity mid-year and I retool what I am doing based on their suggestions. I also ask them this time of year to reflect and grow for next year's group.

This year, I also sent a survey to parents mid-year. I usually do one online, however I never got many responses. So I sent one home one paper this year. There was a cover sheet with my name on it so the parents could turn them in anonymously to the office. I got a much better amount of responses doing it this way. The important part is then to take their comments and tweak our practice to make it better. 

In the past I have also asked administrators for their feedback. We have an evaluation process, but I am getting feedback from one assessor. I like to hear what suggestions the other admins have to better my practice.

It's hard to ask for criticism, but I think it's important to reflect on not only how we feel about the year but how others we affected by that experience as well.

Monday, May 27, 2019

ABC's of Retirement

My beloved principal is retiring this year and we wanted to make something to help suggest some activities he can do in retirement. I wrote the alphabet on the board and we came up with a verb for each letter. The students illustrated our principal doing these things and we bound them together in a book we titles: The ABC's of Retirement. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Friday, May 24, 2019

Inspiration: Our Last Class Book

I really try to teach my students about many people throughout the year who were brave, who were interesting, who changed the world. We read stories about them, watch videos about them.

For our last class book of the year, I asked them to write about someone they learned about this year who inspires them. Who makes them what to be a better person, who do they want to grow up and be like. Here are their responses:

This is my animal loving student-she has a particularly big part of her heart that cares for pigs. So of course, she wrote about Charlotte from Charlotte's Web.

My class may not be where the 1st Grade teachers would like them to be academically, but I LOVE to see the progress they have made not only in their writing but also in their creativity. Every one of them came up with a different answer.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Advice for Graduates

It's that time of year! Graduations from high school and college. My students and I watched clips from commencement ceremonies. I found this collection and I think they make some pretty good points. Jeff Bezos says it may be harder to be kind than to be clever but to be kind. J.K. Rowling is funny and endearing in her speech and Michelle Obama-well, she's always inspiring.

So I asked my students what advice they would give to graduates as they go out into the world. Here's what they came up with:

I wish someone had given me this advice! :) 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I Wish You More

We only have a few weeks left in our school year. I am trying to leave my students with some meaningful read-alouds. I LOVE Amy Krause Rosenthal's books--but this one is my favorites:

We read the story and discussed some of her wishes. She says "I wish you more ups than downs" and "more umbrella than rain".

I asked them to come up with their own page of the story. I was really thrilled to see how creative my students' responses were!

I wish you more "yay" than "ugh".

I wish you more nice than not nice.

....more apples than fish.

....more flowers than weeds.

I wish you more hearts than broken hearts.

I wish you more cute than ugly.

I wish you more happy faces than sad faces.

....more good luck than bad luck.

....more ladybugs than bees.

I wish you more "hi's" than "byes".

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Measuring Writing Progress

I think one of the hardest aspects of teaching Kindergarten is teaching writing. You are expected to take students who enter, often times not even being able to hold a pencil correctly, much less write their names and get them to the point where they are writing complete sentences, sounding out their words to spell. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of work to get to that point. But it's so rewarding! I love this time of year, because I sit down with every single student and show them how they wrote in the beginning and how they applied what they learned to write better today.

We also write every day, beginning from Day One. We write on paper, we write in our journals and even make digital stories and projects. In the beginning the students are often drawing a picture and dictating a sentence that I write. As we learn the letters and sounds, the students are encouraged to sound out their words. Even when they have the ability to do this-they often do not think they can, so they have issues with having confidence to sound out their words. Eventually, after many mini-lessons and writing conferences they begin to understand writing conventions like capitalization and proper spacing. Their writing today is not perfect, but they have come a long way! :) 

The first picture is the first week of school, the 2nd is today.

This student started in November.