Today, I don a different hat. This evening I will resume teaching classes at EWU. This is my 5th year of consecutive quarters of teaching classroom management in the education department. As some know, last year in preparation for Project 180, I placed the many hats I wore at CHS and in the Cheney School District on a shelf so as not to be distracted with additional duties during the project. My teaching at Eastern was the one exception. On one hand, I love it. I find it very satisfying and fulfilling. On the other hand, as a veteran classroom teacher, I think I offer something of value to those making their first step into the realm of education. I am in the classroom every day. And I bring to the table many successes and more failures from my first 20 years of teaching, successes and failures that I endlessly reflect on as I make my way to be better each day. And it is through this that I hope I can help my young aspiring teachers begin to find their ways, themselves as they begin their own lifelong journeys. This quarter I will be teaching two sections, one Monday and the other Tuesday. Excited to resume this part of my professional journey. I find it a comfortable hat.
CHS will be a busy place this week as it is Homecoming. So many things going on, and while I will be mindful of that, we still have work to do. Lots of work to do. Thus, 211 will be a busy place, too. Here are just a few things from our experiences this week.
- Learning logs come in today. Before submitting them to me. The kids will share a profile strength and a “work on” with their teams. The goal here is to create and continue the dialogue about the habits and behaviors of learners. They will also share a selected learning story with their peers. I think it’s critical for learners to reflect; in 211 I aim to make it absolute, automatic, and authentic (triple-A approach to reflection). Part of making this happen is creating opportunities for learners to share with and learn from other learners.
- The Voices Within. Those who caught Saturday’s post saw the kids’ comments from the past week and my responses to them. As I mentioned in the post, I will provide hard copies for the kids to read and discuss in their teams, asking them to apply our So-What?, Now -What? filter to the information. This will take the form of a Quick QUEST today. My greatest hope here is that this process will encourage even more to contribute to our classroom community by sharing their thoughts and concerns as we continue to grow and evolve into a culture that is more responsive to its learners. But this will only happen if the learners find and share their voices.
- Kids will continue and complete their hook practice that we started last week. They are doing these on the Chrome Books, which we only have access to twice a week, so we have to extend things out when necessary. Some kids are still wrapping up reading/writing stories, too.
- Super-Student Standard #1. “I can determine the theme or central idea of a text.” Though we have already made slow, subtle steps in this direction, this week we will pick up the pace, increasing our strides, intently focusing on this target. That said, it will be long, ever-present process as we work towards proficiency and sophistication with this particular standard through a gradual release of responsibility. With that in mind, the kids will work in their teams this week, applying what they learn to the individual anchors (essays of the week) I help them set last week. We are in no hurry. Remember, I have pledged that we will hang our hats on these ten standards. Learning takes time, lots a time.
Wanted to share a quick smile that caught me by surprise Saturday afternoon. A long-time reader, and supporter from afar, sent me a day-making email, thanking me for my work. Kendra Knutsen, a second-year math teacher from Connell High School, reached out, wanting me to know that she appreciated the work and philosophy behind P-180. Here are few of her remarks that struck a chord with me.
First, I need to thank you for everything you are doing. You inspire me every day to do the best I can for my students.
Third, I have been meaning to email you for quite some time, but honestly I have so much to ask you I did not know how to put it into an email. But now I decided I had to tell you that I keep talking about you in my masters classes at Whitworth. Actually it’s more like bragging (sometimes it feels like I know you since Maddie told me so much about you). So many of the discussions/problems/questions we talk about in my classes I can respond to using ideas and thoughts from you.
I am borrowing/stealing your independent learning projects, but I call mine passion projects. The first round of presentations are next week. I am excited and nervous to see what the kids do. They keep asking me, “So what are we supposed to do?” They have no idea how to handle freedom of choice. And it kills me. We are creating robots who only do what we say and jump through the hoops necessary to graduate. My quote board currently says “De-robot your mind”. You are de-roboting the minds of your students.
Really, I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing in education and for your students. I am working on moving in the direction that you are, but since it is only my second year of teaching I am taking it one step at a time.