1. What has been your one biggest struggle this school year?
There's only one way I can think of to describe this, and if you don't live in an apartment or like to cook, it might be hard to grasp. Just follow me for a minute.
Imagine you have this great recipe in your head, but there's nothing written down to lead you to it step-by-step, and no list of ingredients. You know what you want, but the directions are unclear. Now, you're in the grocery store, and you have this empty cart, and all you want to do is fill it with everything you could possibly need to make this awesome recipe. You search every aisle and fill your cart until it's practically overflowing, check out with all your prized groceries in tow, ready to go home and make the best recipe of all time. There's one problem. You have to carry all these groceries up to your apartment. There's only one you, and you only have two arms, and the minute you see all the things you've bought in the backseat of your car, you know it's going to be impossible to get them all in one trip.
Why is it always the hardest to share accomplishments, and the easiest to talk about struggle? Something to think about. Anyway, one thing I have done well this year is prioritize independent reading in my classroom. My students always have a book. They talk about their books. They know how to choose a book for themselves, and most of them have enjoyed reading at some point this school year. I'm proud of that!
Another thing I am proud of is increasing my capacity as a teacher-leader. My graduate coursework has done a lot to improve my skills in this area, and the more I learn, the more confident I feel sharing information with other teachers in my building. The best way we can learn is from each other, and I'm proud to be a part of a growing community of teachers who share, learn, and grow together in my school.
3. What are three things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
1. I'd like to improve my use of timely, systematic, written feedback with my students. Google classroom has helped with this in a way, but I want to ensure that my students are keeping track of their feedback and using it as they continue to work, especially on their writing, in the future. I need to re-read Assessment 3.0, and Hacking Assessment is waiting on my kindle for me to read next! I'm hoping google forms can help with this goal. I've also downloaded Flubaroo, and I need to learn how to actually use it.
2. I want every student to leave my classroom for the summer with a list of books they want to read over the summer and into high school. I want to ensure that they know where they can access books over the summer. I did not do this well enough last year. I can have them read a ton during the school year, but if I don't prepare them to leave me, will they keep reading?
3. I'd like to work with administrators and other teachers in my school to look forward to next year and create a plan for professional learning next year, so that we can consistently engage in meaningful and cohesive learning experiences as a staff and small groups that are based in our actual needs and interests.
4. Give four reasons why you remain in education despite today’s rough culture.
1. Most importantly, I love middle school students. They're weird and wonderful, and they need teachers who love rather than tolerate them. They make me laugh every day. Sometimes they make me cry. My heart is always full when I am working with my kids. It breaks my heart to think about leaving them.
2. If good teachers who care keep quitting, who will be the agents of change that we so desperately need? Who will change how teachers are perceived by the media and in our culture if not teachers? I have made it a part of my social media mission to use twitter, my blog, my voice in my school and my community to change the tape about teachers.
3. Literacy is important. I really believe that all students need to be able to read and write effectively to reach their potential in life. Literacy is entrenched in so many tasks that come as second nature for the well-educated that we don't even realize how many literacy skills we use in our daily lives. That makes what I do important enough to stick around even though it's hard, or even insurmountable.
4. Schools are the best. They're always full of hope, energy, love, support, excitement, and challenges. Every day is different, and every day is the same. There's routine, but within that routine, the possibilities are endless.
5. Which five people do you hope will take this challenge by answering these questions?
1. Ms. Bell, a teacher at my school whose lifestyle blog cracks me up. I love reading it and would love to hear what she has to say about these topics!
2. Mrs. E Smith, because I'm super interested to hear an administrator's POV on these questions.
3 and 4. Ms. Purman and Mrs. Noetzli my critical friends who always share great instructional strategies, support me when I need it, and are two of the most positive people I've ever encountered, both professionally and personally.
5. Doug Robertson, the brilliant teacher who began #WeirdEd, one of the best edchats in the twitterverse. If you haven't read his books or his blog, you should read both.