Friday, September 6, 2013

Hitting the Ground Running

I am in my classroom on and off all summer long. I go in for a couple of hours a few times a week for a variety of things. My two kids like it because they get some freedom and can head to the gym to play basketball while Dad works in his room. I like it because I feel like I can prepare better for September. I could not be the person who leaves in June, never setting foot again in their class until September. I like heading to school, it gives me peace of mind for the new school year.

Then why did it feel like I was sprinting all week long? Between meeting my new students (and several I already knew from teaching them the year before), IEP meetings, SIP meetings, review of policies and procedures, assisting the new teacher two doors down and getting involved in our District Improvement Plan, it was tough knowing which end was up.

A couple of real positives: I was able to discuss a new grading policy with the Special Ed Teacher that co-teaches in my room. I believe we are looking at focusing on Standards Based Grading for those classes. We are focusing on measuring them against a standard using a 0-4 point scale. We have not come up with what we are labeling each number in the scale, maybe we will leave that to the students next week. We are hoping that this new approach will increase their interest in learning the topics instead of concentrating on their grade percentages (regardless of how low or high they were). Bye-bye traditional percentage grades!

The second positive is getting involved in our District Improvement Plan. During our QSAC audit last spring, we did not reach the required 80% in a couple of categories. I have been the "data person" for our small district the past few years and was asked to join the team. I am looking forward to finding solutions that will help both the teachers' instruction in the classroom and student achievement. It is going to be tough work, but one benefit is our school is finally looking into creating a school-wide Response to Intervention (RTI) Program. We will be responsible in the Math Professional Learning Community for finding Level 1 Instructional Strategies that we can use to begin working on improving student achievement. It will be challenging and fun all at the same time.

Needless to say, I am ready for the weekend. A chance to regroup and, let's get ready for soccer games both Saturday and Sunday along with a sleepover for my son's birthday. Yeah, I should be well rested for Monday!


Jasper Fox Sr. said...

Sounds like quite a first week back! Kudos for being so comprehensive in your reflection, it can be hard to keep writing during this busy time of the year. I'm looking forward to comparing notes as the year progresses, I am implementing SBG in my classes this year as well. I am really hopeful that improving feedback for students will increase the quality of their experience in my classroom.

I appreciate your diligence in visiting your classroom/ school during the summer. I am sure that this simple technique does in fact keep you in the school mindset and lessens the abruptness of coming back to school. Anything to reduce the anxiety related with 'back-to-school' for teachers likely reduces that stress for students.

Andrew_Miller said...

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Andrew W. Miller