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Showing posts from December, 2017

Being Present

And just like that....first semester is coming to an end. Teachers are working diligently to prepare, proctor, and grade final exams, and our students are trying to push through a stressful week of finals to a much-deserved winter break. As I reflect on the semester, I must note that it is probably one of the most memorable in my career. A small idea to start a blog based on classroom observations has exploded into one of the best professional development opportunities I've ever had.  As I prepared to come back to work after a long maternity leave, I knew that I wanted to be more present in our school. Present in the hallways. Present in the work offices. Present in the classrooms. It is my belief that when someone is visible and accessible, others are more willing to ask questions and/or share ideas. This has always been my goal, but for one reason or another, it was always difficult to find the time to consistently be present around the building. This year would be different.

A Coach's Mindset

Listening to teachers coach students and empower them to take control of their learning is music to my ears. You might ask, isn't teaching and coaching the same thing? While I believe they are similar, I would argue that coaching is much more than just teaching students; instead, a coach instructs, provides opportunities for practice, offers feedback, relays constructive criticism, provides individualized instruction, and most importantly, builds up their student's confidence to be the best learner he or she can be.  After observing our rockstar music teachers this week, I truly believe that in order to be an excellent teacher, there needs to be an equal balance of teaching and coaching in the classroom. Here is a snapshot of how our Music Department coaches their students and provides awesome opportunities for success: Instruction Coaches must instruct their students to teach them purpose and procedure. If we want to share knowledge with others and ask them to acquire this

The Journey

Allowing yourself to pour time, emotion, personality, and meaning into a project can be a daunting task. While this journey will include adversity, frustrations, and jolts in different directions, the journey can also offer an opportunity to learn more about yourself and provide a creative outlet to help keep your sanity. As I visited the Art Department this week, I learned so much about the amazing journey - mentally, physically, and emotionally - that our students get to experience as artists. For some students, this journey has just begun as their passion for art will continue long after high school, and for others, this is a special part of their journey that will teach them a lot about themselves and essential skills that will guide them in the future. Vision Artists must have vision. Like anything else, getting started is the hardest part. At times, an artist's vision is clear from the beginning. Other times, the vision becomes clearer and clearer over time and during th


Awareness. Something so critical but, at times, so difficult to teach. While our students are constantly exposed to different ideas, cultures, stereotypes, opinions, and values, their true understanding of how the world works can get misconstrued by what they see on the news, read on social media, and hear from family or friends. In addition to teaching content and skills, teachers are challenged with the awesome task of also helping shape our youth into strong-minded, considerate human beings. With this challenge comes great responsibility, effective planning, and willingness to discuss tough worldly issues in the classroom...a task that can be uncomfortable and difficult in a diverse student environment. During my observations this week, I started to reflect on how important it is for teachers to have these difficult, crucial conversations with our students and also incorporate activities where students have to share their thoughts, listen, and expand their understanding while lear