HSE 21 In Action

at BSE

Feature Teacher - Mrs. Deborah Kalustian

Most people I meet assume that I’ve been teaching for years, but I am eager to remind them, “I’m still a rookie!” This is my sixth year of teaching and, while I’ve learned a ton, I’m still growing and evolving as an educator. On the road to teaching I have been a marketing major, entrepreneur, banker, and stay at home mom. I think if I wore all those hats simultaneously it would still be easier than being a teacher!

We face so much coming at us in a given day. A barrage of emails, tons of PD opportunities, parent communication, team meetings, lesson preparation, checklists, and the list goes on. And that’s just before 9:00 a.m.! How are you balancing it all? The truth is, I wasn’t balancing it very well. I was trying to do everything and found I couldn’t do it all and do it all well, despite the Super Woman cape I tried to put on each day. I’m reminding myself every day that two things are most important. Did I teach my students well and did I go home at a reasonable time to take care of myself and my family?

That means I have to prioritize and make some decisions about how I spend my time here at school. I have to remind myself that the actions I choose to take and the activities I choose to engage in need to matter. Will this thing I’m getting ready to spend 30 minutes on make a difference with my students? Sometimes that means moving a few things lower down on the priority list and being okay that the to-do list didn’t get done. Gasp!

I’ve also been reflecting about how to make time more efficient in the classroom. For instance, one thing I started to do this year is to eliminate whole-class bathroom breaks. I started to add up all the minutes I was standing in the hallway waiting for my entire class to, you know, use the facilities. It’s amazing how much time I was wasting doing that. It’s much more efficient for us to keep working and just send a couple kids at a time. Why did I not do this sooner!? I mean, the time we wasted could be spent on a read aloud or something! Way more important!

Finding a better balance has helped me find some time in my day to breathe, know I’m doing my best, and be a better teacher, wife, and mom.

LET'S TALK MATH- These first sets of pictures are from the classroom of our feature teacher, Debbie Kalustian, who works to make math accessible, visible, and fun!

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I've not yet spent a day with Dr. Ryan Flessner in which I didn't feel challenged in my thinking. I go back to Beers and Probst (because call me crazy, but I love to weave content areas together in my head) and I ask myself, What about this day caused me to question, confirm, or challenge my thinking regarding math?" This time, the answer was loud and clear: CHALLENGED.

Here is my challenge from recent days with Dr. Flessner:


Challenged. If I'm honest with myself, I'm constantly looking for the newest picture book or novel to support readers. I'm concerned that post-it notes, highlighters, and markers are available for annotating at all times. Excitedly, I share new stories, update book baskets, look to balance fiction and nonfiction texts. I'm concerned that my readers have every tool and strategy available to them for reading success. I model how to read an entire book, including the pictures and endpapers, but what might I be missing with my mathematicians?

Here are some questions that might be worth the reflecting:

1. Do we each have the materials required to meet student needs in math?

2. What manipulatives are at student disposal and how are they organized?

3. Are manipulatives easily accessible or may students only use them when handed out?

4. What anchor charts support student thinking and how do students use them?

5. What recent research have we read about math fluency and problem solving?

As spring draws near and our teacher brains begin to celebrate all that we have accomplished this year (and that's a great deal), let yourself dream about next year. What is my next step in supporting my young mathematicians?

How can your administrative and coaching team support those dreams?

Math Leadership

Special thanks to recent efforts by our math leads, Jenni Robinson and Jennifer Mulvaney, in offering optional PDs on balanced math basics and fact fluency interviews. You can see either of them, Mrs. Rich, or me if you want to hear more! In the meantime, here are a few resources that might be worth viewing:

Story Problems Resource (also in our balanced math shared drive - many of you have this one)

What Does Research Say about Fact Fluency?

Math Product Online Game from NCTM Illuminations


If you need a smile in your heart, take a field trip down the third grade hallway. (Better yet - Bring your class down for a gallery walk!) There you will find documentation of some powerful learning with diversity. See below for what masterminds, Jen Robinson and Maria Kussy, have to say about their team's initiative.
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"Our team is hoping to open up our students to conversation and understanding of powerful messages/themes through reading diverse literature. We began by using the picture books Kristen Patrick acquired for the "Windows and Mirrors" project through the HSE Foundation grant. The literature we are reading is full of beautiful stories, both true and fiction, representing our country's and world's complicated history. The students are sharing their thinking about these powerful leaders who have worked towards positive change in their communities through honest, heartfelt conversation, along with discussing the theme with text evidence, on our classroom Wikispaces. They are also reflecting about the patterns they see in leaders and applying it to their own lives as leaders."

Sounds and Sights of HSE21 at BSE

When Brooks School Bears and Geist Gators come together - watch out! Together We're Better!

It's an honor to serve Brooks School Elementary.

Megan C. Thompson

Teacher Development Specialist

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

Brooks School Elementary

Geist Elementary