Building Teamwork with the Home

It is two weeks into school. The questions are burning in parents minds about why we do the things we do and I am sure there at a few that are ready to sit down and find out exactly what we expect. It is Student Education Plan time. One thing my team has bought into is transparency. We want the parents and students to know and see everything what we are doing. No hiding, no surprises, no tricks, just transparency.

Getting to meet parents and see what we can do as a team helps the students do the best they can. We try to give the parents some background on our philosophies to help them understand why we do the things we do. We also invite them into our classrooms to help or to just watch.

Parents are a big part of our year. We want them to be more than someone we send not to every once in a while. Invite them to everything we do. We try to set up days for them to see projects their child has worked on. We have grade level activities each Friday that parents are invited to watch.

By doing these things we hope to instill in our students and parents that everyone is a part of education. Students need to own their education and the information they a receiving. This will help them as they prepare for their journey into the workforce. As they own their education they can find that they can research what they want to do or build something to sell to others. They can take their lives into their hands and make it what they want. They will own their lives and not expect others to hand them homework to do, they will create their own homework by wanting to learn. By inviting parents into our classrooms and meeting with them every few months, we hope to invite them to be part of our plan. By having home and school work together, our students will take the world and make it their own.

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I Think I'm Ready

I spent part of today finishing up the last minute things to get ready fro the start of school on Monday. A few new students arrived on Friday so a few more name tags and sticks for the bucket needed to be made. I ran off the math pretest we have the students take to get a baseline of where they are with specific concepts. I picked up our spiral notebooks for the students to use during language. I think I am ready for Monday.

In years past, I was at my school the first day of August. I was moving tables, putting up posters, planning my lessons, sharpening pencils, deciding what I would do this year, and at times wandering around looking lost. Putting together a new year can be overwhelming at times. This all changed this year. We have been teaming in my grade level for about four years now. We had the honeymoon first year, then came out the ideas. It was the perfect storm. We three new we could do better with a little more work. So we started flexible grouping. Then came the third year with the introduction of Kagan Strategies. That blew it all open and we threw everything into high gear. We planned together. We had planned together in the past, but now we really planned together. Our lessons became one. The force was with us. Our students learned more and were excited about what they we doing, and we were excited about what we were doing.

Now we get to this year. I came to school a week late with the itch to scratch. There'd we things to do and they needed to get done. But there weren't. All three of us talked, set up, planned, and we all took responsibility for what needed to get done. So I came in two days early instead of two weeks early. I had time to relax and have some fun. I was able to simplify my classroom without taking too much time away from my kids. My children saw me more than they usually do when I prepare for school. We have our first week planned with activities that will help us know what they need and want. We will play and we will learn. And best of all, my stress level has gone down. I want to thank my team for giving me another week of fun with my family and the knowledge that everything will be fine. Trust is big in a team that works and we have it. We have set our goals and have set our plans out for the students and we know that each of us will pull our weight.

I am truly ready for this year. We are expecting great things with our new classes. As a team we will see them come to pass.

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Here We Go, Rock 'n' Roll

It's time to put to work the things I have learned over the summer. I have gathered my ideas and articles to go back to school. My room has been cleaned by a hard working janitorial crew. A fresh coat of paint has covered all my small holes and blemishes on the walls. I am starting out with a blank canvas on which to paint a view of learning for my students. That being said, here goes the week of work to get my room ready.

I learned about simplicity this summer. I have gone through my papers, books, old district programs and stuff I have collected over the years. I recycled much of it. Other things I scanned into my computer or gave to other teachers that might use it. I have decided that teachers are hoarders. We have the need to keep everything because we just might be able to use it one day. No more for me. If I don't use it in a year, time to let it go. My room has gotten so much emptier. More room for student work.

I also decided to dump the desk. I have never been a fan of the teacher desk so 10 years ago I moved from. Sk to a table and I have not looked back. No drawers to pile high with stuff and no hidden compartments to lose things in. This year I will be moving my books to a shelf and using the student desks for me to work on. This will keep me closer to the students. It will also keep me from hiding behind my table while they are working. My computer is hooked up to the projector and that will be on the table with the document camera, but my iPad has the Mobile Mouse app to help control the computer.

We moved away from desks years ago to set up a team atmosphere. Students keep their supplies in a small pencil box on the desk and books and papers in a cubby. Students need to get up and move so having the get their supplies gives them a few minutes of free movement between activities. Making the computer a piece of everyday learning helps to free up desk space. No big books and less paper needed as they type their assignments. Simplify.

This week we will be getting our activities and lessons ready for the students. We have some new ideas that we need to plan out so we are comfortable with them. Instead of leading students to an answer, which we want to get away from, and getting students to think.

There is so much we want to do, but we need to understand the basic management of our ideas before handing them to the students. We have learned that the students pick up our plans, and run with them. Usually it is farther than we had expected, so we do not need to understand the program or process completely, we just need to be able to mange what're want to start with and how to work with the possibilities as the students start to branch out. It is another year full of possibilities. Summer is gone and school starts Monday. Exciting.

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