The end of the year is always a difficult combination of looking forward to next school year, trying to end this school year well, and being exhausted from the school year. This year I have tried so hard to use the end of the year to try things out to see how they will go in future years.
A few of the teachers in my school (myself included) are going to be going to standards based grading next school year. Monday of this week we spent some time touring another school that has an iPad in every student’s hands and talked with the teachers and staff about how they incorporate technology into their school day at all times. It was the second time I had visited this school and I was so impressed by the way their students acted with technology as well as the culture of the school. After meeting with the principal of the school it became evident that they have some unique advantages such as working at approximately 60% capacity, but none the less it was an eye opening experience. When we met after lunch our group began to talk about standards based grading and how we could best implement it in our classes next year. We met with various technology related staff as well as an assistant superintendent, so we felt a lot of pressure as well as excitement. In the end, we all left with some action items and we able to begin the process of moving forward. We were also let know that we will be using Blackboard for the online content in our classroom next year. The last time I used Blackboard was in college and it was not a well thought out piece of software, but I’m going to try and keep an open mind as we go through training next week on it.
In the second half of the week I really tried to incorporate some of the ideas in Mark Barnes’ book Role Reversal. I tried to use mini lessons and allow the kids to have choice and opinions. I’m realizing that one of my weaknesses is letting my level of exhaustion determine the amount of time and feedback I give my kids during each class period. In the future I need to know that this is a weakness of mine and push through. My kids are also not used to this method of teaching, so there was some confusion and misunderstanding of how class was going to operate. I think by setting expectations from the beginning of the school year next year I’ll better be able to mold my classroom into a place where kids are motivated to learn on their own and I can give them constant feedback about how their learning is going. I’m really looking forward to planning this summer on my own and coming back together with my colleagues and collaborating on transforming our classrooms.
I’m also working on increasing my work related reading at the end of the school year. Right now I’m working on Daniel Pink’s book Drive. I would say that at the halfway point of this book I can see exactly how Mark Barnes used this text to drive his classroom. I’ve really enjoyed seeing motivation through the eyes of science. I’m fascinated by different perspectives on everyday events (which is why I love the show Mythbusters) and this book has opened my eyes. I’m looking forward to finishing this book and then moving on to a few other books this summer.