By the end of the Professional Growth Pilot one thing was clear to me: going through it alone is not ideal. Having team members to share the experience with is what makes it worthwhile.
The FA space had a few other people participating in the Pilot but we rarely made time to stop, share and plan together. It wasn’t until the final weeks of the school year until we really began to open up about what we had been doing. It wasn’t until after we all received our 2nd round of data results that we reflected as a group.
After opening up and sharing our successes and failures was the moment when this year-long pilot started to feel valued. Yes, we made blogs and posted a couple of times but that sense of community and shared experience wasn’t the same as having actual conversations around a table. We all had chosen different Cs to focus on and it was refreshing to hear the things they had focused on during the year.
I have been focusing on Care for several months. I had made the focus trying to understand how students feel about things. Inquiring to know if something was bothering students. While also conveying to the class that I really cared about them through my actions and words.
How students feel about things:
I noticed that I was making a lot of decisions in the class based on my professional judgment. These decisions ranged from furniture placement to lesson delivery. I started to have more conversations with students about how they wanted to room to look, where they wanted to sit and how I could change the set up of the space to accommodate their needs as learners. The most revealing responses had to do with high tables, sitting with friends and listening to music while they worked. Sitting with friends and listening to music became a classroom discussion and we set up guidelines for FA8 as a group. After each unit in math, I started to give a survey that asked students about their experience. I asked for feedback on a variety of things (activities, discussions, tasks, problems) then tried to dig deeper. One piece of feedback I received is that students enjoyed being able to give other students feedback on their work, so we dedicated more time to sharing our work with the class and conducting classroom discussions around tasks and topics.
Inquiring to know if something was bothering students:
This focus started in my homeroom. Eleven students start their day with me every morning. I get to be one of the first adult faces they encounter when they start their school day. I want to be an adult that is always welcoming and create an environment where students can begin their day stress-free. However, sometimes students come so school stressed, worried, sad, etc. and I needed to be more aware of their emotions. Perhaps taking a few minutes to ask what they were thinking about or what was on their mind. These small questions often lead to students sharing about what was bothering them. We built stronger relationships and learned more about each other. Because I knew these students so well, I could very quickly notice when something was on their mind. I became a listener. An ally in the classroom that hopefully, they felt they could come to with their troubles and concerns.
Conveying to the class that I really cared about them:
I started with my words. Positivity, encouragement, praise, and question asking were a few ways I used my words to convey to students I care. If you look at all the feedback you give to students on a daily, weekly basis you would maybe start to notice that positive and negative words aren’t evenly dispersed. I noticed that I tended to have the same types of conversations with the same students. You can think of it as a “good job” or “you can do more” type of conversation and some kids were getting either all good or bad feedback most of the time. I tried to cut down on how critical I was with students and to celebrate what had been accomplished. When I wanted to push students to dig deeper or try again, I would get them to make the goals and next steps instead of dictating what I wanted to see them do. Giving them more voice and choice in their learning.
After getting the results back from my class survey, I now realize that CARE is an area of growth that I should focus my efforts.
In the future I will:
really try to understand how students feel about things.
inquire to know if something is bothering students.
convey to the class that I really care about them through my actions and words.
(making learning interesting and relevant)
After reading through the reflection questions for Captivate, I feel I need to find more ways to connect my course objectives to my student’s lives. I spoke with NGSS consultant Paul Anderson and he helped me realized the importance of having a captivating and appropriate “Phenomenon” when teaching, especially in science class. I am really looking forward to seeing how the use of phenomenon can increase relevance and connection to concepts with my students.
Welcome to your Professional Learning Blog! This is a place for you to post your goals, and reflect on them throughout the year.
- Decide on your goal, perhaps in consultation with your colleagues or principal, and create a post to share with this online professional learning community that you are now a part of! Categorise this post in Goal Setting. Set your goal by considering:
- Self assessment and reflection based on new teacher standards (Tripod 7C’s)
- Previous or new observation data from peers and principals
- Student surveys (online surveys developed and aligned with 7C’s)
- Identify colleagues, coaches, principals etc. that will play a supporting role in achieving your goal, and invite them to view and comment on your post. Encourage them to bookmark your blog and visit regularly.
- Throughout the year, collect and share evidence to support your progress. Categorise these posts in Reflection.
- Encourage your colleagues to share your learning journey by engaging with your blog. In return, engage with their blog (and others across the School)
- You may also like to share work that your students have created or your own professional achievements that may not be directly related to your goal setting. This is encouraged! Categorise these posts as Showcase.
If you need support using this platform, please don’t hesitate to contact Ed Tech, we are always happy to be of assistance!