Saturday mornings are meant for sleeping in and being lazy. November 5th was definitely an exception to my rule. I signed up for Edcamp because it sounded like a great opportunity for my Flexday and I heard that other fellow Tigers would be there. The day kicked off with breakfast pizza, coffee, and cookies. What a way to satisfy Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by filling our stomachs with food and stimulating our minds with caffeine. It was exactly what I needed before walking into my first session. I was surprised with the structure of (or lack thereof) Edcamp but it gave me the opportunity to write a discussion topic for a session. I went to Edcamp in the hopes of finding support and resources about effective questioning. The session was full of familiar Excelsior faces and also faces of new friends. We began with introductions and I was immediately followed on twitter and tweeted at by another educator! It was odd at first but then I realized how easy it would be to connect with others via twitter and the benefits that come with it. The conversation bounced around between critical thinking strategies, reasons for asking questions, and how to deal with students who “just don’t know”. I really appreciated others’ abilities to empathize with my struggles and are willing to help even though they just me. It was awesome to connect with middle school and elementary teachers who have much different experiences than I am having on a daily basis but it makes me appreciate my job.
Three years in the classroom and now an instructional coach. We all know what you are thinking. Three years in the classroom, how can she help me? I have taught for way longer, I don't need her assistance. Finally, in my fourth year as an instructional coach at Westview Elementary, I feel like I have solidified my role to myself and to the teachers here at Westview. Within the past three years, many changes have occurred. One of the biggest was beginning our work as instructional coaches with David Holden through AAIS. Dave has provided us with coaching resources, instructional resources as well as many protocols and procedures for coaching. Along with these detailed resources and plans, he has prompted us through reflecting on why we do what we do. Through this I have been reflecting and refining my practice as an elementary instructional coach. Brainstorming how to make all aspects of my role better for teachers here at Westview.
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in what we (ESSD instructional coaches) deemed "Dave Week." Dave Holden (@DavidHolden) is a co-founder of the American Alliance for Innovative Systems (AAIS). As our consultant, Dave works with the instructional coaches in our district with two primary goals: (1) Helping instructional coaches develop understanding of the coaching cycle and other roles related to coaching; (2) Increasing our understanding of instructional practices and demonstration classrooms.
A good formative takes some planning, some delivery, and some scrutiny. But let’s not forget the formative’s cooler, and more laid-back cousin: instructional feedback. Instructional feedback doesn’t judge. He’s often unobtrusive, and sneaks into your lessons effortlessly and without notice. And best of all, you can train your students to not only expect this, but to request instructional feedback. Take a look at the variety of techniques ESSD40 teachers are using.
We have come a long way when it comes to instructional tools that are used in the classroom. Where once a student was handed a textbook filled with descriptions and images, now the Excelsior Springs School District has virtual reality devices that will take our students all over the globe!
Thanks to a teacher grant given to the Excelsior Springs Middle School by the Excelsior Springs Educational Foundation, students will now have access to virtual reality headsets that will take them to places like the Eiffel Tower, Museums, the oceans, Mars, and beyond.
October was also the month of our grand opening of the Lewis Tiger Cafe - our very own maker/design space for students. Thanks to the hard work of Mrs. Jeffers, Mrs. Kelley, Mrs. Rhodus, and Mrs. Nebel, our students have a space to develop their creative problem-solving skills and learn some basics of the design process. We have been collecting recyclable materials, art supplies, and purchasing some construction toys. The "old" computer lab has been transformed into a space for creating and collaborating.
So, how many times have you had a student sit back in their chair during class and zone out? I know, this has probably never happened to you. But when I was in the classroom, I'd always wonder what this student was thinking. Are they lost? Are they learning? Are they listening? Are they breathing? In other words, how does a teacher KNOW what's going on inside the mind of a student during your class?
The Big Question: Learning is a consequence of thinking... so how do you know that students ARE thinking?
Area 59 has launched, and the results have been amazing! In just the first few months, we've seen Area 59 used for brainstorming activities, making student learning visible, filming Tiger Talk, hosting professional learning time, meeting with committees, and much more!
This is a resource build by the ESSD40 staff for to aid in transforming teaching and learning.
Inspire. Empower. Challenge.
Learning Out loud