Monday, November 25, 2013

School Teacher Update

I thought blending families would be the most difficult part of my marriage to David.  It hasn't been.  The only difficult result of my marriage has been teaching in Idaho.  As most of my readers know, I have taught in many schools.  I've taught in Hawaii, Malaysia and 2 districts in Utah.  Altogether I have taught in 8 elementary schools.  Each school has had great things happening and some had room for tweaking.  In this district in Idaho, the employees brag that "it is the best district in the state".  I feel like I have taken a time machine back to 2000.  There are so many areas in need of improvement and progress.  Positive behavior modification guidelines and school-wide systems of expectation along with professional learning communities are difficult to identify.  It's been depressing.

Nevertheless, I love my students and my classroom.  It is a warm, safe place where students encourage each other and monitor each other for success.  We have fully implemented the 7 Habits in my classroom.  The learners are talkers and workers and forgivers.

Today we had a pancake party because my 2nd graders had earned enough synergy points before the end of the month.  It was held during our math block, so I had the students work to figure out how many cups of mix and water we would need to make 48 pancakes instead of just 6 like the recipe produced.  They did so much thinking to convert 2 cups and 1 1/3 cups into the huge recipe.  There were debates, model drawing, full pictures, toolboxes full of manipulatives.  I didn't offer any help at all as they struggled and taught themselves all the while hungry for pancakes.

When there was agreement at the whiteboard in several colors of dry erase markers, I was ready to mix.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring measuring cups (doh!).  I didn't tell them that though.  They had put so much time and effort into the exact number of cups needed of mix and water, I would not disappoint them.  SO, I announced that it was math game time.  While they excitedly grabbed materials for card, dice or domino top-it, I snuck into the back of the room for pancake creating.  I just dumped the whole box of mix and then added water until it arrived at the right consistency.  Voila!!

After that, I assigned two apple experts to segment the apples, one hot chocolate specialist to monitor the huge thermos of cocoa and 2 pancake cookers.  The party was a huge 20 minute success.  We cleaned up and then I arranged for another 30 minute session of math learning while my principal observed the kids for my formal observation.

Later in the day, seven of the students taught science lessons that they had prepared because they were ahead of the rest of the class.  Those seven scientist did an amazing job--they have better management skills than many of the college interns that have worked in my classroom.  One 8 year old taught about the solar system and had a total choreographed performance of people as planets spinning and moving as other people as stars stood fixed.  Another 8 year old had the class members make musical stringed instruments out of different widths of rubber bands and box lids to discuss sound waves.  One 7 year old taught the phases of the moon better than I ever could.  He checked to make sure every learner understood that the moon DOES NOT produce its own light.  He was really intense ;-).  Watching those young teachers, I realized what a privilege it is to teach.  Regardless of the system or the district.  I love my students and I'm grateful to create a safe, positive learning space for them. I'm really going to miss these little friends during Thanksgiving break.

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