What My Room Will Mean to Learners

I have been thinking a lot about grades. This post has been sitting in my ‘Drafts’ category for a while now, and I have been unsure how to get it out of my brain and out into the digital world. How do we establish a safe, productive classroom culture dependent on trust and courage?

If grades are supposed to be an adequate reflection of the knowledge each student has gained (value added), then why do we have standardized tests? Are they to show students, parents, or the community the knowledge gained throughout the year? I do see the value in examining our pedagogy at every opportunity, but it all seems a little excessive at the national level.

How can I create a unique classroom community in which student learners feel safe enough to take risks, but rigorous enough that they are adequately demonstrating what they know on these high-stakes tests? I really think that we are creating another generation riddled with anxiety disorders. Enough about why this teacher does not see many positives to the high-stakes testing world we live in. You have all heard these arguments before. Let me explain how I set myself apart in my classroom.

Here is my plan for the upcoming school year. The goal is to create an environment in which student learners…

  1. feel loved and safe.
  2. challenge themselves and are open to challenges I may pose to them.
  3. learn from mistakes.

 

10345549_819319804915_3683351228930142783_n

I plan to do that, just like the lady in the above photo did for me. She was, and is, such a mentor in my teaching life. I have lost touch with so many of these important individuals that I leaned on while teaching at Hargrave. I owe so much to those mentors.

First, I plan to create a physical learning environment that honors my students, their beliefs, and their backgrounds. We will create a classroom culture by building relationships with each other. We will make the classroom rules together, with guidance of course. My vision for the Loudon Learning Zone includes flexible seating, but it will depend on the building climate that my class is a part of that will dictate whether the flexible seating choices are an appropriate expectation. I will plan to blog about my class, weekly at the least. Notice that I have changed the name of the blog here to Loudon’s Learning from TeachTechGrl! It will be a blog in flux until I figure out how this digital space will showcase what we are doing in the classroom to extend toward keeping parents in the loop!

Next and synchronously, I will create instruction that allows as much student interest as possible to drive the curriculum. An appropriately rigorous curriculum will be the most important facet of the classroom. Data will drive instruction and student learning needs always come first. That is why I do what I do. To teach is to touch a life forever.

More reflection ahead at another point. Off to Mexican with my parents. A visit home to collect my fur baby, Pistol Pete, was necessary after the wedding festivities.

 

 

My Amazon Prime Day Baby!

I know that I am super late to the Amazon Prime Day unboxing fun that many of the teacher bloggers I follow have posted. But with the honeymoon, wedding, and travel in general, I have been really looking forward to today so that I could receive my brand spanking new Acer Chromebook 11. Slim, sleek, functional, and less that $150.

IMG_1437

I loved having a Chromebook while employed at Bedford County in Virginia, and because I cannot afford another Macbook Air, which is the Cadillac of laptops in my opinion.

I know what you’re thinking, I know I am shallow when it comes to my technology. I have an affinity for Apple products in general even though their processing power is certainly not that of many other devices with similar price tags. I am a glutton for beautiful design and intuitive OS. Not to mention I love my iMac, iPad Pro, and iPhone. I am spoiled, lucky, and bragging about it. I realize this and will shut up now. There are multitudes of humans better than me that do not even have clean water.

With all of that being said, this little Chromebook packs a convenient punch that I have needed this past year while substituting. I have missed being able to word process easily to reflect on the fly about things that I should remember ‘when I get my own classroom again’. Hopefully more news about all of that later. I also do not like bringing the massive, expensive iPad Pro into the schools that I am in. It’s like I have nightmares of breaking it. Usually when I had to use the iPad Pro to set a timer, check off something on my to-do list on Evernote, or take a picture of a paper schedule for lunch duty it was greeted with a “WHOA-is-that-an-iPad!!!!!” reaction and heads turning from every corner in the room.

Truth be told, I am very seldom without a wifi connection, as many of us are. Ironically, I almost always use every drop of data from my data plan every month…It is also out of habit that I sync most of my ‘stuff’ (photos, docs, lesson plans, and the most important content) even if it is to just back up in case of a crash of some sort. Plus many times, I take picture with my phone and want to blog from my iMac. It is very easy just to turn on Google Photos and it will be there as soon as I need it. I am very excited to be able to use it for job interviews and word processing with ease. This time, the device is mine!

Here is a link to the Chromebook I purchased from Amazon on Prime Day.  Not too shabby for $136.00!

 

Word Wednesday 

Today, I got to be a Special Education teacher for the fourth grade. This particular mix of students was great. They are such hard workers! We prepped for the math state test, practiced spelling words and using a protractor. I also got to have a bit of fun with them and ask about their favorite word they have learned this year for “Word Wednesday”. In case the photo is not legible, some of the answers they gave are:

  • Lunar
  • Overdrive
  • Overheat
  • Exclamatory
  • Magnificent
  • Multiply
  • Pink
  • No school ( 😝)

Monday Sorta Tuesday

So, today was the first day back after a “Spring Break” at the school I am substituting at in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Apparently it is not a thing to take a full week for Spring Break here in PA. I think that is so strange, but I will have to get used to it.

This whole not planning lessons, assessments, or making educational decisions thing is very difficult to get adjusted to. I really miss making instructional decisions that are best for ‘my kids’. I miss Hargrave, which is totally weird because I have literally never missed that institution since I left. Have missed some of the people like crazy, but not many of the decisions that were made… Also, it is weird that I haven’t had a group of ‘my kids’ since 2015. {I mean my own student learners in my class. I do not have children. Lawd help me.}

What happened to being a classroom teacher?! I so miss that.  Don’t quite remember why I gave that up in the first place when I started focusing on the adults instead of the students. I think that’s where I got lost.

Printing resumes and cover letters now. My resume is attached below in case you want to take a gander. I must say, I think they are pretty A-OK! 😍🥇

Michele Shull

Substitute Planning Goodness

Today, I thought I would share a few of the ways that I use my Erin Condren Teacher Planner to help me when I substitute on a day-to-day basis in different districts and schools each day.

I love the clutches made especially for the Erin Condren products. They are super helpful to just throw them in a bag & go. That way nothing will dog-ear pages or spill on your important plans!  And now that I am hopefully adding Greensburg-Salem School District to my substituting calendar in the very near future, it is going to be so important to stay organized when as a sub, one is expected to execute another instructor’s plans.

How I am currently using the Erin Condren Teacher Planner:

  1. Month View: day-to-day assignments, whether they are full day or half day, which    days of work I will be choosing to put on each paycheck. Highlight if I have input this day into Aesop.
  2. Day Plans: My daily takeaways and reflections go in this spot. I also detail any great student helpers in each classroom, any tips for next time I am in that teacher’s classroom, and details about anyone I had to leave a negative note about.
  3. Page Protectors: I use these so frequently! But only the most important documents get placed inside these. When you customize your teacher planner, you can choose fewer or more of these. I love having 6. I have had an EC Teacher Planner for the past 3 years & have found I really use them!
  4. Social Events: I place these throughout so that I can put in non-work days for these days I cannot fulfill any substituting jobs.
  5. Bullet Journal: I used to use a separate notebook for bullet journaling, but it has gotten too tedious to switch back and forth. I use the pages following the monthly plan view for longer to do lists.

Some of my favorite go-to products that I use daily with my planner are:

  • Heidi Swapp at JoAnn Fabrics
  • American Craft at JoAnn’s
  • Mrs. Grossman brand stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Post-its 
  • Sharpie Brush Tip Markers
  • Staedtler Fine Tip Pens