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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Can Teaching Be Like Surgery?

One of my favorite shows is Grey's Anatomy. I don't really like watching the surgeries, but having the medical knowledge really helps me talk with my sister, the BSN! JK, she laughs at me when I try to talk medical and I call her all the time with questions about my family and our health. She is kind and answers all my questions patiently. I think she is the best nurse ever!

Anyway, this week on the show I was struck with the way they train residents. I usually watch the show for entertainment, but this week I found myself making connections to teaching student teachers, and even students.

Let me explain:

What if, instead of modeling how to teach (multiple times) the phonics lesson (that gets a little boring--and I have noticed the young teachers falling asleep), 

1. I model it once, 2. talk my student teacher through it once as she teaches it, and 3. then the student teacher teaches (talks through as another teaches) a student (or other student teacher). All the while I am nearby, ready to assist if someone snips an artery (or gives misinformation).

I'm pretty sure the level of proficiency will increase very quickly.

It's the medical model: See one, Do one, Teach one.

Exciting, huh???

I do not have a student teacher, but I did have a college student for a mini practicum for a couple of hours a week earlier this year. She is finished now, and I wish I could do it over. Sure, she learned, but did I help her get to a level of proficiency that would be most helpful to her in her teaching career? Probably not. And she could have had more fun if I had let her do more than SO MUCH OBSERVING and a tiny bit of teaching.

In my defense, I LOVE teaching. But, if I use the above model, I could continue to teach and shape and model the college student to do things "my way." 

Ok, I do not have a college student, and none on the horizon, so I will try this out with some of my Kindergarten students! I'll bet even more excitement in our class and just perhaps the level of proficiency will go up exponentially!

Good news! I just realized that I do this in one tiny part of our day! Our MVP (student leader of the day) leads the class in our alphabet chart (say the character, the sound and action, and the letter name).

So thankful for a weekend to work this plan out even more...
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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mathematical Practices--What??

I know there are some. I've read them several times. They are in my math teacher manual. I have them in a flip chart. But do I really understand what they mean?

Nope, not really. Not until yesterday.

Chris Shore from The Math Projects Journal came to my state and gave the keynote at a math conference I went to. Here are some highlights of his talk...

1. Teachers have to have a Growth Mindset. I must believe that kids can do it and that I can get them there. Is this a moment when I keep saying it until I believe it? I've believed that kids can do it, but I have a tough time thinking that I can get them there. Better work on that.

Here's my new mantra: Kids are that SMART and I am that GOOD. (He made us say it out loud several times.)

2. Million dollar teachers do these three things:
--have a no-options engagement policy in class (yay, I do this)
--do boot camp numeracy (what prerequisite skills must I teach today-or review-so that today's lesson can be fully learned), fundamentals are KEY
--H.O.T.S (always a struggle, but now I have ideas), each day as I think about the content, also think about the math practice-post those along with the standards

This is where it got good. He broke down those mathematical practices so that I could finally understand what they meant. (Can't teach it if I don't understand it.) He did this in kid-friendly terms. And gave us anchor charts to reference and post. If you want to see the charts look HERE.

He ended the talk by reminding us (the teachers in the room) that we matter the most in student achievement. 

And at the top of the list are relationships. And a growth mindset. And flexible thinking. And knowledge of our content.

So glad that I live in a world (my district) that values continued learning opportunities and that I make the time to go to them.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

All the Feels

Four events today.

These events are happening all over the world in many classrooms. And they are why so many teachers love their jobs. 

Today as each event happened I paused, breathed and was thankful.

Event One: A sweet girl snuck over to me during the math lesson and whispered to me "I like being with you." My response? "I like being with you, too."

Event Two: A compassionate girl accidentally called me Mom, fixed it and went on. This has happened before, but NEVER this early in the year.

Event Three: As we were saying good-bye, a boy hugged me and said "I love you Mrs. Bartel." "I love you, too."

Event Four: A good-bye kiss on my cheek from another awesome Kinder while his mother looked on and smiled. 

It is good to know that our kids are cared for, and loved while in someone else's charge.

Teaching is tough. Standards. Data. Protocols. 

When the days start wearing me down, I will remember today. I will remember that teaching is more than standards. Teaching is a work of heart. Mine and theirs.

How do you stay positive on your tough days?

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Am I Doing It Wrong?

I have been asking myself this question a lot these last 6 days.

This is why...
1. I have left school by 4 (or 4:30 when I had a staff meeting) all week long.
2. I'm not falling asleep at 6:30 each night.
3. I do not feel panicked about school.

Sure, there is more that I could do.

Sure, I'm tired, but I can still watch some tv and talk to my family after supper.

Sure, I think about school a lot.

But, I'm not wearing "freak out" pants this year. I feel calm on the inside, which is a good thing. 

And as I left today, I saw my student. We smiled, we waved, I said "see you tomorrow" and kept walking. Three seconds later I heard the sweet voice (and I knew who the voice belonged to!!!) "bye Mrs. Bartel." So wonderful. We have been together for a mere 7 half days and I already feel like I know the kids (just a tiny bit about the academics, but so much more).

I think this is going to be my Best Year Yet!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My 17th First Day

The excitement was the same. But the nerves were different.

So many good things happened today. I am thankful for so much.


1. 21 wonderful Kinder Kids (I finally have a name for them!!!)


2. A donated mini trampoline for my classroom.

3. $25 gift card for my classroom.


4. Nobody cried today (me included).

5, Leaves for my tree from a good friend.

6. Smiles and support from my tribe, BTPSM (best teaching partner soul mate), and my school.

7. Kinder Kids Parents that are kind, friendly and eager to know me.

This is going to be the best year yet!
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

And My Journey Continues

My journey began at my birth, I was living it.

My journey shifted when I started college, and again when I had my first child.

My journey is mine. I love every peak and valley, because I learn there. And each bit I learn gets me ready for the next part.

Conscious Discipline has been an influencer in the way I see my own children (and the ones I see at school). I'm thankful for the friends that have been a guide and showed me a different way.

Background knowledge is critical in learning something new. Because I have these rungs of information and years of practice I am able to grasp on to other, maybe "out there" ways of thinking.

School is an academic environment. Obvious, right? But what if the students can't learn the way I teach? That's when I employ "differentiation." But what if the student still struggles, and it goes deeper? What if the struggle is related to stress in his life. Can I differentiate for that as well?

Stress. I have to recognize my own stress, and deal with it (appropriately, thanks Conscious Discipline). And then I can begin to recognize it in my students and teach them ways to deal with it (thanks Conscious Discipline). 

But what if the stress is bigger than that. Toxic Stress? How will I help? How will I even understand it?

As part of professional development yesterday, we watched Paper Tigers. Sure, it was a documentary of a high school in Washington state, but there are so many applications for me (in kindergarten in the middle of Kansas).

*constant stress=inability to learn because of continued fight/flight response of living in the brain stem
*drugs and behaviors are possibly used to cover up the feelings, because feelings are scary and difficult to process
*look deeper, not at the behavior, but the something that is causing the behavior
*avoid judging the outward behavior, show compassion, show a different way to express feelings

I am so excited to continue this journey, my journey, to be the teacher for others that I would wish for my own children.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Being Enough

--What will other's think?

--Was it (whatever it may be: a lesson, a meal, a conversation) good enough?

--I want my classroom to be "just right." (AKA perfect in my mind.)

These are thoughts that I sometimes have. Not always, but sometimes. 

Summer is a season of time. So much time to see other teacher's accomplishments, projects, ideas and work (Facebook groups are good for this). It is easy to compare my life to what I see in others'. And feel not good enough.

I'm going to stop. It's going to be a journey. But I will be courageous and do my best. What I really want is connection.

And truthfully, of all the teachers that I know (near and far) no one is out to "be better than someone else." They all want to do their best, be connected with others, and maybe share/collaborate.

Here is my new goal for the year: When I start to feel "not enough" or that I am comparing, I will stop and find a way to make a connection. 

It's going to be a fantastic year!!!
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