Sunday, March 11, 2018

Take Advantage When Opportunities Arise

In her book, The Power of Inquiry, Kath Murdoch has a chart of what inquiry teachers do. One of those things is to link investigation to authentic contexts (p. 21).

This has been a focus of mine for this current unit. The phrase jumped out at me because I missed out on one such opportunity about five years ago, and I have probably missed out on many opportunities since then, but I have always thought about that missed chance. Hopefully, regretting that missed chance has helped me be more confident in taking risks with my teaching and looking for opportunities when they arise.

The other day I may have caught the opportunity.

The Junior High was having a Pancake Bake Sale fundraiser, but it was during recess time. The schedule worked out so that Grade 1 had class during this time. My students were not too pleased with this development and I got an earful coming up the stairs.

We are currently looking at opinion writing, so I decided to try to make a connection to our writing by telling them that they should make their voices heard by writing letters. I gave them a choice of three people to whom they could write and set them up by saying that they should think about:

Who - who will they write to
What - what they want
Why - why they want it

There was only about 15 minutes of writing time until an assembly, and some students were not into it since we had already "done writing" in the morning. But some students were able to express themselves. And hopefully, the others started to realize that the different subjects are interconnected throughout the unit.

* While not exactly an authentic inquiry, I think it was an authentic context for which I could guide the students to make a connection. It was probably as close I could get with this group.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The 4 P's and Coaching

I'm currently taking the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten MOOC. I'm trying to keep up with it anyway.

The mantra of the MIT Media Lab is the 4 P's: projects, passion, peers, and play.

This is a great way to teach, but what if teacher PD was set up around these four words? What if we allowed teachers to take an hour a week to work on a passion project that they shared with their peers?

What if coaches encouraged teachers to choose one project for the year, a project that would impact their classroom and allowed them to learn a new teaching technique?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Biggest Regret

I don't like to ruminate, but I do catch myself wishing I could have done things differently in the past.

It was the first month into a coaching position that was new to both me and the school. I was asked for some ideas for math ... I had some, but I also had an awesome math book. I am embarrassed to admit what I did next - I went to this teacher's room, handed the book over, and said something like, "Read this. It's good."

No offer to come in.
No observation.
This issue didn't have anything to do with tech and I was a technology coach after all.

If I could do it over I would go in and observe. Then I would meet with the teacher. I would then go through the book and pick a few (3-4 perhaps) of the ideas out and make a menu from which the teacher could choose. I would brainstorm ideas along with the teacher how to make it work.
I would then offer to model or co-teach a lesson.

That's what I would do now anyway.

I want to think that this particular decision wouldn't have made a big difference in my time as a tech coach. But then again, maybe had I worked more closely with the teacher I could have gotten more teachers on board faster.

And it wouldn't be weighing on my mind even now.