Going Back Again

One of the perks of being an instructional coach is going into classrooms and co-teaching with fabulous teachers.   

I arrived as the second grade students were doing an introductory activity with polyhedron.   The teacher had given each student a collection of pictures of 3-D objects.  The students were invited to sort them in any manner that they would like and label their sorts right on their desks.  Most chose to sort by polyhedron and non-polyhedron.  There were some that sorted by vertices-no vertices, polygon faces-non-polygon faces, numbers of faces, and descriptions of bases.

Next, the teacher gave clear, simple directions for a gallery walk.  While the children walked around and looked at each other’s work, the teacher and I talked quickly about what they would do when they got back to their seats. We decided to ask them to look at their own work, and decide if they wanted to make any changes or revisions to their work.

This turned out to be very powerful.   We watched students happily erase previous work to sort in a different way they hadn’t thought of. ( Most of the time, students hesitate at erasing their work!)   As they worked, we kept asking them questions, and watched amazed at how much further their thinking and explanations went.   There was a buzz throughout the room.  100% of the students were on task and engaged in great conversations.  

If she had not asked them to go back again, they wouldn’t have gotten the chance to explore new ideas and try out new vocabulary.  They wouldn’t have had the chance to justify their thinking for a more complex sort.   

When they wrote about what they did, many wrote how they had changed their sorts, and explained what they learned!

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This is a great example of a little change that has powerful results!

#GoingBackAgain    #courage   #polyhedra         #powerfulStrategies

Courage: My challenge for the year!

Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, which I know I will break, I choose a word to focus on each year.  This year, personally and professionally, my word is “courage”.   Here’s why:

Courage:   One word for change

I live in Texas, but visit family in California every year.   I travel with my dogs, and so I make the trip by driving, often by myself.   I really enjoy the time to think, and listen to music, and you drive through some beautiful country.  

As I drive, it is not uncommon to see a box moving truck towing a car behind it, as the occupants head off to a new adventure.   Usually it is young people, beginning their life as students, or with new jobs in new cities.  Usually.

This December, we passed a the box truck towing a vehicle, I checked the mirror to make sure everything was clear, and noticed there was only one person the truck.  And I was stunned!  It was a much older woman, with her white hair beautifully coiffed driving along to her new adventure by herself.  

Seeing this sent my mind racing!  I watched for her at every rest stop because I wanted to ask her about her story.  Perhaps it is good that I never had the chance, because I am left with my own reflections.

What stood out the most for me was her courage.  Moving is an adventure, but it involves change, and that takes courage.  Courage to make make the decision.  Courage to make the plan, and make the changes.  Courage to drive (and tow) a big truck all by yourself. This beautiful woman was courageous in making what was obviously a big change in her life.

Big changes take courage.

Little changes take courage, too.

As a teachers, we are faced with changes in the students that we teach.   The needs of the students have changed from what they were even five years ago.  We are finding that we need to address emotional and social needs of students, we need to make sure they are fed, we need to help them face new circumstances in their lives, and help our students find their own courage.  

To do this, we need to make changes in how we teach.  The ways that we taught in the past may not work for the students we have now.   We need to have the courage to look for new ways of reaching our students and help them prepare for their lives with new technology and ways of working and collaborating together.  We have to have courage to make big changes and small changes.

As I reflected and drove along towards my family, I decided that with the new year, my word to focus upon professionally would be courage.   I want to have the courage to speak up for those in need, to make changes for my students, even if it is uncomfortable for me.

When I moved by myself from California to Texas, that took courage…so I know I have it.  I need to remember that, and challenge myself to keep being courageous to make the little changes that will make my classroom a better place and prepare my students for their futures!