Packing Up, Moving Out

The countdown has begun..only 14 days of school are left. As I walk the halls in my school, the atmosphere has definitely changed. Here in northwest Montana, winter was long, and spring came oh so s-l-o-w-l-y this year. We’ve had a tease of sun and warmer temps intermixed with more rain and cooler temps than we would like, but with every day that passes, more blossoms are beginning to appear, the grass is getting greener, and the promise that summer will arrive next month is beginning to settle in.

Most of the teachers in my building will soon begin covering book baskets in their classroom libraries, tucking away materials in their cupboards, and closing their doors until they return in August. Two beloved teachers who have an impressive 77+ years of teaching between them will instead be cleaning & tidying for the new teacher who will occupy their room in August. When they walk out and close their doors behind them, it will certainly be with countless memories from careers that spanned decades, and powerfully impacted hundreds of children.

I am approaching my end-of-the-year routines quite differently this year. After 3 years as our school’s math & literacy instructional coach, I will be returning to the classroom to teach kindergarten in the fall. Fortunately I am not leaving my building, but only relocating down the hall. My mind is filled with great anticipation for this transition, and my list of summer reading is daunting to say the least!

TBR2017

Obviously it is unrealistic to think I will be able to read all 20 (yes, 20!) of these titles (not to mention the countless children’s books I am accumulating!). Fortunately, several of the 20 are books I have already read, but will take time to review again, Post-It notes in hand, annotating and marking specific parts I will be referring to during the year. Others will be new reads of course, full of effective and engaging strategies and approaches to teaching our youngest learners.

Leaving my coaching role has caused me to reflect a lot on my last 3 years and the opportunities I had to work more closely with teachers than I had while in the classroom. I have learned a great deal about listening, asking the right questions, and discovering the opportunities to learn myself as an educator through every coaching conversation, PLC, and professional development session I attended.

While I may be packing up and moving out, I am looking back at much growth and a renewed passion for all that lies ahead. How are you approaching your end-of-the-year routine in your classroom? You can click here to join our DigiLit link-up to share your story. Thank you to Margaret for opening up the discussion!

DigiLit

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

IMWAYR 2015

This past weekend, I entered the blogosphere.

Several years ago I maintained classroom blogs, but never created one for me…a place where I could share stories from my own professional journey in teaching. Thanks to AJ Juliani, however, and the encouragement of my amazing #G2Great friends I met on Twitter, the once talked about has at long last taken flight.

Through the help of my Voxer/#G2Great friend, Margaret Simon, I have found my way to the #IMWAYR link up, and I hope to become a regular contributor. Children’s books are my passion, and sharing my love for books I am reading will certainly be a great addition to my blog.

For my first #IMWAYR post, I’m going to keep it very simple. To be honest, writing any type of book review/blog post is a new practice for me, and one I will have to grow into. Plus, the book I want to share is one I am certain has been posted about many times already, but only recently discovered by me after hearing an episode from the wonderful podcast, All The Wonders where Kate DiCamillo shared all about Raymie Nightingale.

May I simply share a #booksnap I was inspired to create?

Raymie Nightengale #booksnap

I loved these snatches of text from Raymie’s conversation with Louisiana. Something as simple as one friend reading aloud to another brought Raymie to such a beautiful place… happiness coming out of nowhere and inflating her soul. That sat with me for a long time.

Thank you for letting me join in your celebration of reading. I look forward to making new connections with all of you!

Innovation

I recently became a member of the Innovative Teaching Academy with AJ Juliani. I stumbled upon this opportunity when reading a blog post by George Couros last month, and knew that I had to know more. Upon investigating the specifics of the Academy and discovering the monthly topics, I jumped in with both feet. I was especially drawn to the 2 areas of focus for April: Goal Setting & Priorities for Innovative Teaching & Learning, as well as building a blog.

I have envisioned and talked with many of my Twitter & Voxer friends about starting my own blog for at least a year. I follow many amazing bloggers, and knew that I would find the experience of having one rewarding, but honestly, I think I spent more time over thinking it rather than just doing it.

So here it is, my debut post on my debut blog! (I will admit to spending WAY too much time choosing a theme and playing with all of the various blog components…and after all that, I’m rolling with keeping it simple to start, and building from there).

We are currently at the end of week 3 in the Academy, where we discussed the topic of innovation. What does it mean to be innovative? What does it look like in the classroom? How can we encourage our students to be innovators?

When I consider being innovative, a few words come to mind: purpose, impact, intentional. Being innovative takes courage. It takes passion. It takes a willingness to get outside of our comfort zone. Innovative people are people of influence, and they approach innovation not only with a desire to impact those around them, but with an acute awareness that their actions can reach far and wide.

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AJ Juliani’s Framework for Innovation in the Classroom is a great visual that outlines what an innovation framework can look like for teachers and their students. As an instructional coach, however, I spend a majority of my time working alongside teachers, so my takeaways are perhaps a little different than a classroom teacher’s might be. In my role, I want to consider how I can support collaboration, failure, and inquiry with my colleagues.

Looking at AJ’s framework, I like how he starts with inquiry. When coaches are working with teachers on their staff, we need to tap into the questions teachers are asking, the instructional areas they want to know more about, and even the possible concerns they have about how successful they feel they may or may not be when venturing out into something new.

The process of innovation can be challenging for anyone, no matter what role they play in a school. Whether in a classroom or in a coaching role, there will be times when an idea or plan doesn’t pan out. Failure is part of the process of innovation, and while it’s never fun to experience a failure, if we can see it as part of the journey, we can experience growth.

Finally innovation does not have to be a solo ride. In fact, I will venture to say the journey of being innovative is far better when it is a shared, collaborative experience. When we join forces, venturing out into what may be unknown territory can be exciting! If we are faced with uncertainty (and we will be..) we have others there to encourage us to stay the course despite the challenges.

There will be a lot more learning around innovation for me in the months ahead, and I look forward to sharing more from my journey here. Thank you for sharing in my very first blog post. I would love to read your own thoughts on innovation. You can leave a comment below, or Tweet me @ girlworld4