Why we need to try something new & change the way we teach.
It's that time of year again. A time to reflect on our year and to set goals for the next. This year my husband and I were so blessed to have our first baby boy. He is the love of our lives and we are so excited to have our little family. I'm on maternity leave and loving EVERY moment of it (even the mom tired times). I know when I go back to work, I will be forever changed.
"You can't do it" they say. "You can't be a great mom AND a great teacher". Yes, I have actually heard these words from many people. And to all the people that have said these words I challenge you to tell me WHY NOT? Why can't I be a great mom and a great teacher?
As someone that is new to this motherhood tribe, I am making it my mission to prove all of those people wrong, and I know I'm not alone. #motivatedmama We can be great mothers AND great teachers both. I know it, because I have seen it. I am lucky to work with some great women that are botha great mom and a great teacher. I know it will be a challenge but when you have determination and love your family and your students, you just make it happen. There is no other option. Sure, will there be days where I take it easy - my lesson plans are not out of this world or we order carry out because I'm too tired to cook dinner - or that I am not on my A game, Yes! I'm human. It will be important to be forgiving of myself when I can't do what I want to get done, but I am determined. I am a mom. I am a teacher. I am strong. I will be smart and organized with my time. I will give my all to my family, to my work AND to myself (cant forget about my me time). I will be great at being a mom and at being a teacher, and I will prove those people wrong.
I will be the best wife & mom I can be.
I will be the best teacher & role model I can be.
I will be the best sibling & friend I can be.
I will take care of my health.
I will take care of my finances.
I will go to church.
I will stay motivated.
I will forgive myself.
I will be strong.
Okay Okay. You already moms out there may be saying "Haha, I remember when I was that way" or "I'll believe it when I see it". But I am determined to stay productive AND enjoy my life outside of work with my family and friends. I recently read a book, Four Seconds by Peter Bregman. Ironically, I read this on a cruise while I was relaxing. This is a great read and has really helped me to stay motivated and productive with my work both at home and at school.
In Four Seconds, Peter Bregman shows us how to replace negative patterns with energy boosting and productive behaviors. To thrive in our fast-paced world all it takes is to pause for as few as four seconds -- the length of a deep breath -- allowing us to make intentional and tactical choices that lead to better outcomes.
Here is a video that I feel goes along with how I feel about being productive. Its important for people to take time to slow down, enjoy life, reflect on your work and get your thoughts and ideas together.
Other motivators -
Yoga and meditation. This is a great way to take your me time, refocus and feel your best so you can be your best for everyone else. I found this great yoga place in my area (called Renew Mama), that is for Moms specifically. They have Mommy and Baby yoga classes as well as classes for just Mom but they provide a babysitter right next door. This is a great community of mama's right there in the life balance struggle with you. I also love Head Space to give me just the 10 minutes a day that I need to reflect, relax and clear my mind.
I have also decided to re-vamp my instagram account. I am going to try to follow just the people that inspire me and make me want to do and be my best. There are so many great moms and teachers that focus on being your best. Here are some of my favorites:
TheEllenShow (Ellen Degeneres), JoannaGaines, KristinCavallari, Meghankedmonds, Melrystrick, Moms.Can.Be.Fit, PositivelyPosie, MommyHotline, WeAreYogaEd, FunkyBuddhaYoga, TheWhole30, TheBump, LoriHarder, TheAmyGroesbeck, TheTeachersPassport, TheMindfulEducator, TeachOutsidetheBox, JustAPrimaryGirl, MariadisMondyBooks, StepIntoSecondGrade, HappyHealthyHumble, DashingDish, Littlebitsof_RealFood, Littlevintagenest... I know there are so many more, but these are some of my favorites I can quick think of. Plus all of my AMAZING mama friends. #inspiration
Other Books I am reading:
I will be the best for my family, and for my students. I am determined. I am strong. & I know I am not alone.
Watching this video helped me to change my perspective and think about this in a different way. In my classroom, I like to start the school year by writing out a list of my students names and next to each name write something I enjoy about them (their quirky personality, how hard they work, how creative they are) and something that they really enjoy. As the school year goes on, I like to refer back to this list to remind myself of what each student brings to our class dynamic and how I can incorporate what they enjoy so they can share and learn from that student. I am also constantly trying to help students build relationships with each other through daily play times, or simply noticing when they are comfortable with their group and then mixing them up. As the year goes on, the whole class becomes a team. They look out for each other and help each other in their learning as well as in life. Here is a video I LOVE that I have of students working together to practice reading words:
Encouraging math fluency:
And even something as simple as helping each other to zip their coats or tie their shoes.
Or if a student is having a rough day, they will go to give them a hug. It is amazing to watch these little guys, just 5 or 6 years-old, communicate, work together and become a team.
I said this video has changed my perspective. I help to promote this atmosphere in my class with students and they become a great team! Why am I not doing everything I can with my co-workers to be just like what I see in my students? “Everyone has value”. It is important for me as a life long learner and as a team member to take the time to think about each of my co-workers. What are their strengths? How can I build trust with them? Who can I turn to for help? Do people feel comfortable coming to me for help? Am I taking the time I should be to connect with the people I work with?
With the pressure as an educator from evaluations, performance scores and standardized testing, it is often easy to fall into the trap of trying to improve your own classroom. This video reminds me that it is even more important to collaborate with my team, ask for help and to always be learning. Everyone has a value and I can learn from anyone. When I shut my door and try to keep to myself I am only hindering my own learning and my students growth. I need to have a “social connectedness” with my coworkers so we can grow together as a team and be successful as a group, improving our skills and knowledge as educators.
I am lucky to work in a school where this is possible. I am able to have lunch with my grade level team daily. We also get to meet as a staff every other Friday for what we call “Early Release Fridays” where they students will go home early and teachers will collaborate with our grade level teams, as a building or sometimes across buildings. We also go out afterwards to the B.A.R. (for our Bi-weekly Academic Review). The BARs are our way of getting out of the building and just talking, no pressure of school, venting, sharing, connecting (plus the food and drinks). We are lucky to have this community built within our school.
We can sometimes forget the importance of these things as our days get busy and life is happening, but this video reminds me of how making these connections with my coworkers is just as important as the teaching I am doing in my classroom. I should make sure to attend these events and meetings if I want to continue making connections, learning, improving and growing as an educator. Everyone has value and it is up to us to help motivate and learn from each other.
Don't set goals... What?
I just started reading this great book called Four Seconds by Peter Bregman. It is all about how to be more productive and replacing counter-productive habits. What teacher does not need to be more productive? As I read I thought I would reflect through my blog the ways that I hope to be more productive! I hope these strategies will help others to think in a different way and to learn something new with me.
So the first helpful tool is to NOT set goals. This sounds crazy, but the author talks about how setting goals can make your vision narrow and could have negative outcomes like skipping steps just to meet an end goal. Instead, think of an area of focus. This will help you to accomplish your goals, in a productive and through way. You will take your time to make sure the job/task is done correct and are open minded to improving in all areas to achieve or complete you task.
This is simply a mind shift in how you think about your "goals" and I am willing to give it a try! Each day/month/year I am going to set a new area of focus.
This month/week looks like this:
My Area of Focus (at Work) - Try out new, fun lessons.
My Area of Focus (for Work) - Post & share more to social media & my blog.
My Area of Focus (for Home) - Try new healthy recipes.
My Area of Focus (for Self) - Work out more days than I normally do.
What are your area of focus going to be??
Well, I just updated our class website! Ahh! Don't you love that feeling of making something better and more organized!? It makes me so happy when I see things improving!! This got me thinking though...
How do you use technology in your classroom?
A couple coworkers and myself were able to go to the MACUL (technology) conference. I have had so many ideas since then and I'm slowly starting to integrate more and more technology into my classroom. I already use lots of videos/songs for learning, as well as SMART board activities. Right now my students are using the computers during their centers. I'm always trying to think of new things to do that will help my class to run smoother as well as integrate technology!
QR codes are the BEST! I have many books recoded with QR codes ready to be scanned. I learned at the MACUL conference an "extension" that you can have if you use google chrome as your web browser where you can make any page you are on into a QR code! Super helpful.
I have attached all of our notes from the conference at the bottom of this blog! Make sure to take a look and find some new ideas!
Just this week I have recorded my first video lesson for our STEM (STEAM) center. I decided to start small. If you look at the home page of my website you will see the words "this week" where I will be trying to record some lessons each week for students to follow along with lessons, repeat lessons as needed or listen to lessons when absent. This is my attempt at an in-class "flipped" class. To do this I used the explaineverything app (which I am NO expert at ... yet!) but I at least have my first video behind me!! :)
Last year I also used plickers which I really like but I am trying to stay away from multiple choice questions for the kinders. I also really liked to create and use Kahoots! This is my current goal (after finishing more work on our class website). I would love to create Kahoots for some of our end of year assessments but I know they again will be multiple choice - not my favorite assessments.
My tech goals for this week
-Prep the class set of computers (ALL charged!) for a Kahoot for next week.
-Create at least 3 Kahoots.
-Video record 1 writing lesson.
-Finish updating website
Later goals/to do
-Video record a lesson for teachers for our upcoming PLT
Any other suggestions for use of technology in the classroom!?
Video of students working on STEM lesson.
This is both my first time creating a video lesson and the first time my students have completed a video recorded lesson. Still looking for ways to make this better!
Every year at the beginning of the year I ask my students what they would like to be when they grow up. Yes! In Kindergarten I'm already asking!! I always love to hear their answers; some don't know yet, some say something their parents or siblings do like "work at a bank" or "work at a store" and some have cute answers like "I want to be pretty" or "I want to be a mom/dad". I always learn so much about them & try to bring the things they are interested in, into our classroom setting.
This year, to my surprise, I had a handful of students that said that they would like to be a scientist when they grow up! This does not seem to be a very common career choice in a Kindergartners eyes so to hear this from 4 of my students got me, a science major, so excited to bring more science into my classroom this school year.
After school one day I came home to my usual Ellen show where she had a guest on named Steve Spangler. In all honesty, the kids did not come to mind at first. The first thing I thought when I saw his science experiments (being the science nerd I am) was WOW! THAT WAS COOL! I was totally engaged! Then I quickly turned my brain back to my students (being the teacher nerd I am) and thought, how can I do this in my classroom? Ellen closed the segment by saying that Steve makes science kits for kids to do at home! I needed this for my little scientists in my classroom!!
I asked my principal if we could get a kit for our class and he said yes! The students were SO excited! I cant wait to get the kits into our room & get my students asking questions, working together and really getting into their learning by experimenting!
Check out these videos that got my students so ENGAGED & EXCITED about Science!!!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.