Sunday, October 17, 2010


These first few months of school have been great. I love my new school, I love my students, and I love my colleagues and administrators. At my new school, administrators regularly visit the classrooms and give teachers feedback on their practice. As much as I like to think I'm open to this, it was hard to adjust to administrators who actually care and actually know something about education and pedagogy. At first, I felt criticized by their feedback, but after awhile I realized that they weren't really criticizing me, they were trying to help me to improve and that's precisely why I switched schools, to continue growing and learning as an educator.

Another big adjustment for me has been the accountability and data collection. At my old school we talked about our "data" constantly and had to collect data in every subject area on every child, but we filed this data in a binder that went in our "data center" and was never reviewed by administration. At my new school teachers have to email their data spread sheets to administrators. At first, I though the administration was asking me to email it to them so they could scrutinize me, but then I got the letters generated by the administration to the parents with their children's scores and pointers for how they could help at home and I realized that it wasn't about criticizing the teacher, the data is actually used to help children. It doesn't disappear into "Data Center" oblivion, but actually gets used. What a concept!

Other than that, I have settled into my first grade zone once again. Different school, different kids, but it's basically the same. I'm fortunate the curriculum is similar (except for math), so it really hasn't been hard to adjust in that way. My students are connecting with each other and with me and we have a nice classroom atmosphere going where everyone in encouraged to learn. We went on a field trip to the zoo on Friday and had a great time together. I have so many photos of my students with their arms around each other smiling in front of sea lions and bears. We did our usual shared writing about the trip. The kids generated the best telling of the story in all my years of teaching. I was really surprised. Most of my students are ELLs once again, so I didn't expect such rich vocabulary to come out. They said things like "the path in the aviary was narrow." Whoa! This year, when I type it out, I will actually be able to project it onto the Smartboard for my students to edit and revise.

It makes me really happy that I am able to create this positive school world with my students as I did at my old school except this time it's not isolated to just my classroom, the whole school is in on it. It's encouraging to say the least.

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