Sunday, June 13, 2021

Reflections on a Crazy Year

So we had our last day with students and I thought I would be more emotional. I taught these kiddos for 2 years and watched them grow not only academically but social-emotionally as well. When the regulations for our classrooms to protect from Covid were announced, I couldn't even envision how this would work. No books, no workstations, no collaborating in groups. Students would have to stay apart from each other and wear masks. But these kids were such troopers-they followed the rules without complaint.

Reflecting on this year I do have some things we did that I will keep in my practice. I loved using Pear Deck and Blooket-will continue to integrate those. Pear Deck I will even use to record activities for a sub in the future.

Virtual field trips-we went somewhere every Friday afternoon. My students learned about other cultures and even chose countries on the map they wanted to learn more about. They can still identify many of the flags. We also went to museums and planetariums. This I will continue with future classes.

The district had us begin our day focusing on SEL skills. I read stories that dealt with empathy, anger management, mindset, how to be a good listener. I could see the students really putting those tools into practice in their daily lives.

Parent meetings on Teams-I think it was good for parents to be able to login from anywhere and still attend our meetings. I plan to continue this.

I was always that student who worked hard for A's in school. I still have that mindset when it comes to evaluations. I worked harder this year than I have ever worked and got the worst evaluations of my career-and I have come to terms with the fact that what my administrators are looking for is not always what is best for my students-and I will always side with what is best for my students. Half my 1st grade class could already pass the 2nd grade high frequency word test. My kids learned a lot this year!

How did your year go? What things will you keep in your practice for upcoming years?

Thursday, June 10, 2021

End of Year Read-Alouds

It is very important to me that we build a passion for reading in our students. I put a lot of thought in the books that we read the last few weeks.

Here are some of my favorites:

An easy read about putting down devices and appreciating nature.

Great advice for boys and girls to hear.

This is a great book to use with an activity for the kids to illustrate your common sayings.

A beautiful story about what we wish for others.

Some of my students still have not mastered skills they need to master---yet!

This is my go-to book for baby showers. I just think it's a beautifully illustrated story about not necessarily following the crowd and forging your own path.

True story of Barbara Jordan and how she joined the civic world to voice her concerns and solutions.

What are your favorite end-of-year reads?

Sunday, June 6, 2021

This Has Been Some Year!

March of 2020 we found out very suddenly that there would be no in-class sessions for the rest of the school year. We were thrown for a loop. Didn't know even where to start with virtual classes. I recorded rudimentary videos that I posted with Google Classroom activities. I had about 3 students who logged in regularly to complete them. But I felt helpless in encouraging more participation-I work in a Title 1 school, my families didn't even all have devices or internet service. We treaded water for the last 3 months and made a pledge to figure out something better for the fall.

I was incredibly lucky because I looped with my students. Even though we were fully virtual for the first 6 weeks, I already knew the students and their families. Now that we were 1st Graders, grades mattered. I spent a lot of time over the summer watching webinars and playing with programs that could help my students submit work virtually. I discovered Pear Deck and Blooket-they were staples to help keep my kids engaged this year.

Many students worked hard. Many students made incredible progress. It was very difficult for me to keep my virtual students engaged and several would only login for an hour a day. My administration did monthly walkthroughs and we were sent e-mails with a list of things we were doing wrong. For the first time in my career my final evaluation had 2's (needs improvement). They didn't understand that we couldn't apply the same standards for in-class teaching to hybrid classes. I was very proud of the successes my students had this year. Their district test scores were above our campus and district average. They learned how to navigate digital resources and now can even take a screenshot and make it their background completely independently.

It was a tough year for sure. But in all the talk about gaps and learning loss, we need to remember there were huge gains as well. I congratulate all teachers who muddled their way through this year.