Teacher Tired

Well, everyone, week 3 has ended with my students at Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School. I am teaching 4th and 5th grade Science and Social Studies. I have 81 students, 9 periods in each day that consist of 40 minutes each. I have a home room of 21 fifth graders who love to have jobs and to help me every day. It has been comforting to know that they enjoy learning, school, and being a part of a community. All have come to school with smiles on faces.

Every day’s schedule is different; every day has shown me unique challenges. Learning to fit within the existing parameters of a teaching team has been challenging. But getting to know all of my fabulous colleagues at school has been so fun.

I have also really enjoyed the students so far. All of their messy, loud, and loving ways that they show me they care about learning and growing every day has brought so much joy into my life.

Consequently, maintaining balance is always hard. And something I personally struggle with. Finding time to reflect has fallen by the wayside in these first few weeks. I will try and do a post at least once a week. I am feeling fairly close to ready for next week already and need to spend some time on self-care this weekend. 💅

Here are some photos of these first few weeks.

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.

 

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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.

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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!

 

Big Week Ahead! 

I have a big professional week ahead. I am really, really excited about what is to come. By the way, my new teacher name is Mrs. Loudon… How awesome is that!? Pretty pumped to go from Miss Shull to Mrs. Loudon. And, let’s be honest, my older teacher name sounds almost exactly like my first name, Michele. Which has just always felt strange to me. More OBX pictures from Kitty Hawk will be added later this week. In the meantime, don’t mind my upper lip sweat in this picture above. Snapped it on the beach with my Canon and I just kinda like the look about my eyes. I look like I am ready to start a new adventure.

Let the Summering Begin

These photos are simply some inspiring classroom. Spaces from my experience these past few months as a substitute teacher!

I was in 25 classrooms in 6 months!


Such a colorful word wall!

Hating-inspired artwork in the halls! 

EdTech Tool Library: Canva

Disclaimer: Canva in no way sponsored this post.

Canva is an app that allows learners to make memes, presentations, or edit photos. I personally love the interesting filters, text options, and layouts the Canva provides.You select the format you plan to share the photo creation to, whether it be a blog post, sharing to Instagram, or a paper invitation that you want to print. It is a super fun and easy way to make your photos that you snap, or personification of vocabulary words, look professional in order to share them with others. Canva has a paid version, but I choose to use the free version. The photo above was made with Canva. I have found that giving learners to freedom with which to choose the template that goes with the assignment given is the most interesting and empowering way to use Canva in my classroom. Download it to your iOS device, I have it both on my iPhone and iPad. It is available via the web too. 


Check out Canva online here.