Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Want Some Mo'

-->"Will you every quit?" "No! We want some mo', we want some mo', we want some mo'!"
I could watch Remember the Titans a hundred times, and I probably already have. It's about friendship, leadership, and determination. I used the quote above as a call and response in my classroom. I would call out, "How are you doing out there?" and my class would respond, "We want some mo', we want some mo', we want some mo'!" I think it made them feel strong. Even if at that moment they were struggling, this gave them that feeling of, "I can do this!" 

"Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.”

I believe in this, 100%. As you lead, whether in an official or unofficial position, you must have a genuinely positive attitude if you expect your team to trust and follow you. A leader must show others that they will not be weathered by the storm. You can choose to be positive or negative about the opportunities you are facing. Your choice, whether you like it or not, will affect the people around you. They will choose to stand with you and fight the good fight, join you in the negativity, or steer clear from you as much as possible so not to affect their outlook. I have chosen each of those routes at some point throughout my career. The past couple of years, I have consciously chosen to be positive and steer away from the negativity. I am not perfect but strive to be a better person, leader, and educator.

I have mentored teachers and was the team leader at my first school for a few years. I will be starting my 11th year of teaching and it will be my third year at this amazing school! I have been given the opportunity to be the team leader. I am overwhelmed with excitement! Our team works well together and often it feels like magic. The ideas and discussion that flow through our PLCs is definitely one to brag about. Because of this, my role as team leader will not be one that dictates what we do, nor would I want it be that way. 

So what are my hopes in this role? 

I hope to . . .

~ be positive
~ motivate & support through the opportunities we will face
~ praise & celebrate successes
~ communicate & listen effectively
~ inspire creativity & encourage risks
~ learn from others & try new things 
Team leader or not, these are my goals. I want some mo', I want some mo', I want some mo'!

--> Cheers to a successful 2014-2015 school year!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

360 Degree Math

Summertime is when I get to work! It's finally a chance to look at that list of ideas that had to be put on hold because we just don't have time to make those kinds of changes throughout the year. 

How it started 
I saw the documentary, TEACH, and was interested in 360 Degree Math. My room obviously wasn't set up for this, so I did what any resourceful teacher would do. I laminated some chart paper and stapled it up over bulletin boards! Don't judge me. I really wanted this, so I had to do it! The kids loved it! I have to admit, I didn't follow the 360 format as designed. I started with just having the kids up out of their seats. 

By chance, we were visited by the superintendent and district board members while we were up and working on a Bedtime Math question. It was perfect and they even tweeted about us! 

While planning for the 2014-2015 year, I knew real whiteboards were not an option. I looked into the dry erase panels at Home Depot. After getting permission from the one and only, our head custodian, I was ready to start!

There was a helpful man and he cut the 4'x8', 32 sq. ft Hardboard White Tile Board (about $13 each panel) into four pieces (2'x4'.) Along with some outdoor mounting tape, (about $15) I was ready to go! I ended up buying 3 panels and a roll of the tape. You'll need to measure the length of your wall to see how many panels you'll need. Before going to Home Depot, I knew that I needed one of the 2'x4' pieces cut down to fit a smaller space near the corner of my walls.

I have two large walls that I am using. I put about 8-10 pieces of the tape on the back of the panels and after wiping down the walls, I started sticking them up. 

I added some bulletin board paper above and below. There was a lot of residue and marks on my walls around the laminated chart paper so I went with black paper.

Using electrical tape, I sectioned off the boards evenly. Each student's work space is about 15". I would have liked to make them a little wider, but it just wasn't possible with the wall space I was working with. I added a panel for two more students at the front of the room next to the whiteboard. Depending on class size, the extra students are given work space at the class whiteboard. As explained on the 360 site, the students need a "progress bar", which is the thinner section at the top of each space. For now, slips of paper with the problems are held up with paper clips.

The What
For the "What" of 360 Math, visit their site for a detailed explanation of how to use the boards in a lesson. Although, these boards have been a huge addition to my room in math, they truly are useful in all Spelling (below). Getting kids up and moving is important - and mine love it!

For the 2016-2017 school year, I had to take down the black paper. It made the room feel dark and although it hid the marker residue, I needed a change, a more welcoming feel to our room. I lightened up the paper and added clips for the problem slips. 

I also added a border along the bottom and top of the boards with more electrical tape. Because the boards take up so much wall space, I use the area below to hang any anchor charts we made. Oh, and I went with tables! I love love love the tables!

Be amazing!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Three plus years later, where am I now?

My National Board journey has come to an end but not for too long. I submitted my entries but did not achieve. It did not come as a surprise - imagine how long it took me to admit that. I went into National Board after the most difficult teaching year I ever had. I was ready to call it quits. My district offered NB and backed us with many of the fees. I jumped in ready to learn something new and to be a better teacher.

A better teacher I did become. Unfortunately, during the time I worked on my portfolio, my brother had a stroke and that became a priority for our family. Between taking shifts to be with him at the hospital and rehabilitation, it left me with little time and high emotions. I was also well into my second pregnancy and as any mother-to-be knows, I was exhausted. On the school side of it all, our team decided to departmentalize our third graders. Wow, what a year! I was the writing teacher and taught six sections. I also went on maternity leave during that year. I had many challenges during that time which contributed to a less than a high quality submission and I can own that. Some will say these are excuses. Call them what you want. Believe me, I beat myself up about it enough for the both of us. In an honest reflection, I needed to identify the factors that impacted my results.

I decided to resubmit my entries but ended up going back and forth with it. I had one foot in and one foot out. I quit and started again then quit again. Ultimately, I did not submit any entries. I wasn't ready. Will I try again, yes. When? When the time is right. I have a wonderful support system. My husband is absolutely amazing! Since day one he has backed me up. He takes on the kids and everything else within the house so I could hide out and work on NB. I know that when it's time to start again, I'll be in a better place and still have the support I need. Do I feel like a failure? Yes. How can I not. It is hard for me, maybe all teachers, to start something and not finish. But, I will finish. It's just on pause right now.

I almost forgot about this blog I started, previously called A New Journey. I decided to start blogging again after much talk on Twitter, FB, and listening to some #edchat podcasts. I have a lot of ideas that I think other educators can use and I continuously like to reflect on my teaching so I can improve. We can always be better.

2014-2015 Taking it to the next level!

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