Curriculum Things to Consider...
Week of January 21st
EPIC PD is on Monday!
- Elementary staff - you don't need to write anything into your budget sheets quite yet. We will have a staff meeting on Wednesday to go over how to do this with our budget bootcamp. FES - I will fill you in next week as well.
- High school staff - please fill in your budget sheets as normal. If I typically work with you on getting curriculum through a certain rep, mark down what you need on your budget sheets and I will add the specifics when you are done. That way we have document on what you need.
- Looking forward to school year 2019-2020, Science and ELA will be on their curriculum review cycles.
Trainings for Teachers
If you are a teacher in grades K-7 and have never had training for Responsive Classroom 1, please let me know. We are starting to register teachers. Training will be at Pine City June 17-20, full days. I have been told they have requested Nicole Doner as the trainer, so cross your fingers! High school teacher, we are looking at the next step in Love and Logic training during workshop in August.
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL). The Responsive Classroom approach empowers educators to create safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students have a sense of belonging and feel significant.
Restorative Practices Training
When the trainings first became popular in our state several years ago, I was one of the skeptics. The philosophy behind Restorative Practices was something I embraced... they were RELATIONSHIPS! It reminded me of the Responsive Classroom philosophy that works in our elementary buildings. After I went to a training, I wondered how the circle training would work, specifically in a secondary setting. However, as more and more schools started implementing the practices, it became less about the training and more about embedding the practices and philosophy in the "business as usual" part of our day.
The reality is that Restorative Practices have been proven to work in schools across the country. My question for us to start pondering as a staff is: How do we as a whole staff start learning about the restorative philosophy and practices to have this type of culture in our school? Do we keep sending teams of teachers to trainings? Do we bring the trainings to us? Where are we at with Restorative Practices? Are staff starting to use this with students? Start pondering as I can't wait to have these discussions soon!
If you are new to Restorative Practices...
- Click here to discover what it is
- This is more about the type of practices it includes
- St. Paul implemented it in their schools and this is their site
Educational Topics and Trends
Seven Ways to Transform Your Practice Mid-Year
When I taught middle school, I would always focus on one specific area where I could either change my practice or pilot something new. It’s a tradition I’m continuing as I teach at the university level. Instead of trying to do a massive overhaul, I focus on one single thing I can either pilot or change. Here are a few ideas.
- Revisit your classroom procedures. Consider how you might streamline your procedures and use elements of UX design to create a more logical and intuitive flow to your classroom. You might even have students meet together as a class and rewrite the classroom norms and create a new procedure chart.
- Redesign the space. It might be a chance to change up the seating in your classroom. Or you might want to do some redecorating. This is a chance to get student volunteers to help with the process at lunchtime, before school, or after school. I found that some of the more challenging, high-energy students really shined in this task and it helped me build a better relationship with them; which, in turn, helped them self-manage their behavior.
- Try one new project. Maybe you want to start a Maker Monday challenge. Or maybe you want to do a divergent thinking mini-project. Or perhaps you’d like to try out a Tiny House project or do a curiosity-filled Wonder Day, where they get to explore any question they want. Or maybe this is the time you launch a Genius Hour project.
- Do a team-building exercise. I know, I know, we tend to do team-building at the start of the school year. However, teams need to have fun and grow closer throughout the school year. The first week back from a break is the perfect time to experiment with a new team-builder.
- Pilot student self-assessments and peer assessments. This not only increases student ownership but it also frees up your time as a teacher, so that you can meet with students one-on-one, spend more time lesson planning, and ultimately have additional time on your own to pursue your own passions. If you’re interested, there’s a free suite of assessments in the Design Thinking Toolkit, which also includes this twenty-minute peer feedback system.
- Try goal-setting with students. I was skeptical about the power of goal-setting in the primary grades until my daughter came home in the first grade and started talking about her math goals. She could tell me what she was learning, what she wanted to learn, her progress toward her goal, and what strategies she would do to get there.
- Find a creative way to affirm your students. I used to make it a goal to send home one positive note for every student every two weeks. I had a bank of positive phrases and an overall template for the letter in Spanish and English. I could then copy and paste a few key ideas. However, I then added a specific example that I had observed. I first began this at the midway point in my first year of teaching and I’m pretty sure I stole the idea from Ms. Jackson (no, not the woman from the Outkast song). When I first implemented this, students were cautious with it. Sometimes they got embarrassed by it. However, over time, they grew to love the notes. Parents and guardians showed up to our parent-teacher conferences on a positive note. Meanwhile, it changed my perspective. I began to look for specific positive things students were doing.
The bottom line is that a midyear point can be a fresh start. It’s a chance to pilot something new and to transform your practice. It’s your opportunity to take a creative risk and do something different. So, go for it. Use this moment as a chance to innovate in your own space.