01 November 2005

Moving Forward

As you may remember, I am not fond of October. It was with a lot of joy that I saw November on the calendar today. Things are already feeling like they're looking up.

My counterpart in another district is new to her role and has some huge tasks ahead of her---all
Planaria by David Thomas CC-BY-NC
without benefit of guidance from central office (her boss was poached to be a principal at a school...and the position of "Curriculum Director" isn't going to be filled). I am trying to share some things with her. It seems such a shame to have put so many hours of work into a project like our Scope and Sequence---only to have it used once. I handed over my huge binder of info and received this message in return: "If karma is real, and I know that is not a testable hypothesis, you have moved up the ladder and will not be reborn as a planarian! Thank You so much!" Gotta like that---although being a planarian wouldn't be such a bad deal.

Another thing I have been wanting to work on this year is to find some sort of personal ways to recognize teachers for the efforts they make. A colleague recently told me that one of her biggest joys and frustrations is developing and delivering a fabulous lesson---only to have no one see it but the kids. It's not that kids don't appreciate a good teacher, but there's no reason for them to be keyed into all that went in to making things happen. So, I've been writing postcards to staff who have invited me in...or taken time from their busy classrooms to work with other teachers...and so on. It's a start---and I have some other ideas I'd like to implement. Anyway, this morning I had a teacher tell me that the card I sent her was very much appreciated. This led to some other conversations about instruction. The small gesture of the card gave me an "in" to helping with other things...which will eventually impact kids in a positive way. I like that.

I have been invited over to an elementary school to work with more teachers. This is the school with the lowest science scores in the district, especially in Inquiry. I got my foot in the door last month with one teacher. She had a good experience and has recruited others with an interest in improving science instruction for their students. I'm really excited about this. It also gives me a chance to hear more about what kinds of support they need since elementary is a bit of a foreign land for me.

If all that weren't enough, I actually had a wonderful experience in the classroom with my kids today. I am also trying to "walk the walk" and be more constructivist/inquiry-based where appropriate. We are looking at the nervous system and today was the day to begin nerve transmission. I took my own advice and did the lab first. I really like the way this worked and am anxious to extend their knowledge into the textbook tomorrow. (I also have a group of observers in my room for part of the period tomorrow...so I hope this keeps working well!)

The icing on the cake today was getting to spend time with a colleague as he pilots a new unit on systems biology with his sophomores. A few years ago when we had a "coach" at our school, I had her spend some classes with me and it was such a boon to have another set of eyes. I had the same prep three times that year. She would sit and take notes the first time through and we would quickly chat during passing time so that I could make a few adjustments before the next class. We'd cycle again and by the third time, it was a lesson that could kick ass. I didn't know if this was the kind of thing that was desirable today or if it would just be a chance to see some new curriculum at work. I was really okay with either road. But the teacher was interested in a few ways to tweak things. As teachers, we rarely have the luxury of being able to thoroughly plan things out as we'd like. Collaboration can help with some of that. The other thing, of course, is that everyone's teaching style and students' needs are different. What might sound great to me is not necessarily the best for someone else's class. It's just good to be able to bounce around some ideas.


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