My first year at ISB did not go according to plan. Anyone’s plan.
I usually spend my summer vacations going in between family in Toronto and Saskatoon, filling up on way too much food (dim sum in TO and pirogies in Sask), and spending time at the lake. Sometime around mid-July, an itch sets in and I start trying to get organized – brainstorming new activities, revisiting old units, exploring new resources.
Preparing for online & blended learning changes how I approach this new school year. I have had to reimagine the ways in which I will connect with my students, build a dynamic and supportive classroom community, and collaborate with colleagues. When COVID-19 forced schools all over the world to close last spring, one thing I was grateful for was the fact that I had already built those relationships with my students and teaching teams. Beginning a new school year with (mostly) new groups of students challenges us to rethink how to establish those same relationships in a new, socially-distanced, sometimes online model.
In addition to focusing on Care, I know that the skills associated with Clarify will be important. In the spring, I found that it took weeks (sometimes longer) for students to feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussions online. It was harder to catch when students weren’t confident in what they were learning, and much harder to encourage them to put themselves out there. Although I believe that having clear instructions, establishing a routine, and explaining concepts clearly can help mitigate some of those challenges, I’m not sure it will be enough. I think some of these new skills will come with time and practice, but I also believe that some PD surrounding how to facilitate online discussions could be useful.
The cycle planner I have attached below outlines how I plan to start the year with my IB Chemistry I class. You’ll see that a lot of time has been dedicated to community building and skill development.
Cheers to a new year!
At the beginning of this school year, I decided to focus on “Confer” and “Captivate”. After taking some time to review my students’ survey results, I decided to focus mostly on “Confer” and to also keep “Consolidate” in mind.
Here are some action steps I’ve identified to help me progress towards this goal.
- Build a buffer time/Q&A session in lessons. One of the biggest barriers I find in my ability to confer/consolidate with students is time. I’m hoping to try and build in 10 minutes to my lessons to allow students to ask questions.
- Continue to use formative check in quizzes with students. I do this the beginning of most of my classes. Students decide if they are ready to try a short formative quiz or if they want to use that time to ask questions/get clarification.
- Student feedback at each quarter. Have students share some changes they would like to see, things that they want to keep, ideas they have for activities/lessons.
- Individual student conferences. In addition to quick check-ins after formative quizzes, I would like to do individual student conferences once per semester.
My goal = slow down.
In a place so full of activity, it might be weird (and perhaps a bit bold) for this to be my professional growth goal. Add in the fact that I’m a new teacher at ISB, and this just sounds unattainable.
Here’s my thinking: I often feel that I get caught up in the cycle of working/planning/grading that I miss the most crucial aspect of teaching – working with kids. I spend hours planning cool activities and labs, but I rarely ask students what they thought of it. I sometimes move on from lessons and topics because I feel the stress of time. I want students to take ownership over their own learning, but I don’t provide opportunities for them to decide how learning activities should happen.
So that’s my goal this year – to slow down, work collaboratively with my students, and design a learning experience together that we can all be proud of.
Which of the 7Cs will you work on this year? Why?
Confer: I give students opportunities to share their thoughts about how learning activities should happen. I seek feedback from my students about the effectiveness of my learning activities.
Captivate: I try to make my lessons relevant to students’ lives and the world outside of school. I create assignments/assessments that sustain students’ interest.
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 7Cs)
- 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!