Saturday, February 18, 2012

Keep it Positive

Have you had a week like mine?  One where you feel like you have packed so much into 5 days that it feels like 14?  I left my classroom yesterday afternoon so happy to have a 3-day weekend that it makes me feel bad in reflection: guilty even at looking forward to a break from the emotional drain of a long week and the endless bustling energy that comes from a classroom of 50 excited and busy learners.  After a quiet car ride home and a day off, I am reminded of my favorite line from Susan Scott in Fierce Conversations (2002), “Be responsible for your emotional wake.” It reminds me to keep my positive perspective, “to be responsible for the energy you bring into a space” (from one of Oprah’s last shows).  It was just what I needed, that chance to regroup and reflect on all the positives in my week. So after being reminded of that, I am bringing my TOP 5 positive moments:

1.       Watching my mentee teach her class: This week I had to opportunity to observe the teacher I am mentoring in a teaching moment.  I had to laugh at the sheer joy of watching her in action this week. She was completely and utterly amazing.  I want to be a student in her classroom soaking up her impact and generosity.  She connects with students and allows them to be who they are without overdoing that structure piece that is so easy to fall into in schools these days.  She is positive and supportive, helping her students to be responsible for their learning and self-regulation skills.

2.       Our classroom is observed through a different lens: This week we played host to three teachers from the program in our district that supports Homeschool families.  Over the last few months we have had several teachers, administrators and visitors from special programs.  What made this significant was the chance to discuss our program, to answer questions and reflect.  The three teachers that came into our room also teach multiple ages and work with kids by meeting them where they are.  The questions they asked and observations they made really brought to light that we are meeting our goals of creating a personalized program.  It was wonderful to sit at the table with them and be treated like teaching and learning partners, to be valued for our insights, and to see our classroom and students through a different lens.

3.       Superpowers: This week we spent our time reflecting on our superpowers.  It was awesome to see the kids rise to the creative challenge of selecting powers for themselves.  They went from designing a visual, to wanting to write a story, to even generating Power Points of their powers.  The next day they followed up with a student suggested reflection on what their REAL powers were, from art, to friendship, to the ability to make good choices for themselves.  Our students remind us every day that they are making rich connections between the things we do, continually finding ways to apply their insights to their world.

4.       Collaboration with a Middle School Teacher: Wednesday was a busy morning of work around the Common Core Standards for our Math Steering Committee.  I was talking with a colleague from the Middle School and found a kindred spirit, another teacher who is also working hard to make meaning in the math we teach our students.  She discussed that shaking up the current progression of how the younger grades teach fractions would make their acquisition and transfer of the concepts easier.  Rather than going forward with adding and subtracting of fractions, she suggested moving to multiplication and division of fractions first.  I returned to my classroom for the afternoon so jazzed and inspired, and reminded once again of doing what makes sense for kids first.

5.       A slow boat to Venice:  Who knew creating a boat and a back drop of Venice would be so inspiring to our kids. As I attempted to draw a scenic view of Venice on a white sheet of paper, the students commented that I was a good artist, which made me laugh as I have never thought of myself in that respect.  It provided me with that opportunity to point out that art is in the eye of the beholder and that since it is their own creation THAT MAKES IT PERFECT.  I kept telling them, it is your view of Venice not a photograph, and that there is always something be proud of in your own creation.

Some weeks are draining and others inspiring, therefore being responsible for the energy I bring into a space reminds me to keep it positive, to reflect on many of the things that went wonderfully well rather than focus solely on those that did not.  This mindset makes me recognize that there are far more positives in every day and week, and that my weekend job is to get the rest I need to return wholeheartedly with energy to match the kids on Tuesday morning! ~Ann

Susan Scott. (2002). Fierce Conversations. New York: Berkley Books.

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