The original idea was to post at the end of every week something with much more reflection and thoughtfulness than my previous daily social media posts that I had done over the past two-years. I was able to keep to that schedule for the first eight-weeks or so, but have faltered and failed since then.
The key to school/student/learning success is student engagement
by 24-years experience in the classroom
I should have known that “classroom management” could be a problem for me going all the way back to when I was doing observations/volunteer work as part of my teacher training program back in the early 1990s.
I’ve gone on record saying that you make (teaching) plans so that you can pivot and change them based on the circumstances. This was that kind of week.
2018-19 school year week 4. How do you turn left or right with robots that only have one motor connected to a single axle? Hmmm… I hadn’t thought that about that.
I’ve been wrestling with this problem since coming here in 2016: how to get robots into the hands of all of my students in the best way possible… And I was so excited that I didn’t take any photos/videos of the first class that began working on their LEGO WeDo robots (you know that’s excited!).
“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, German Field Marshal
I think I scared myself last week when posited the difficulty of teaching a single subject across six grade levels much less five subject areas across said six grade levels. Oops.
Even though I’ve been running classrooms for 23-years, the challenge of beginning another school year is more than a little overwhelming. As if that weren’t enough, I also closed on my new condo on the first day of classes, so add moving and setting up a new home to the “beginning of the school year” challenges.
Back when the Washington Redskins were winning Super Bowls (circa 1991), one was always wise to be aware of coach Joe Gibbs’ incredible halftime readjustments where they’d take what they learned in the first half and crush the opposing team in the second half. Now that the first half of the school year has passed I wish that I could say my break was spent plotting the conquest of learning that was going to take place in my STEAM Lab over the next half of the year. I mostly slept in every morning. Obviously I really needed the break. But what are my second half adjustments?
Alas, I’m still working on classroom management stuff that should have been taken care of in August, but will make things a bit more manageable going forward the rest of the year. The other ever-present concern is how to best use the 18.5 50-minute lessons we have left in the school year. I’ve scheduled three weeks/lessons of EV3 robotics for the three 5th grader classes, I’d like to have all grades do some animation work with their drawings, I don’t feel like we’ve done enough with our Augmented-Reality 3D systems and we have a 3D printer that needs to get some attention. We have a classroom set of WeDo LEGO robots on order, which are more elementary school appropriate, which I would love to fit into the end of the school year. So many ideas, so little time left to implement. Not Joe-Gibbs-level adjustments, but I’m getting a better picture of our limitations and therefore where I should devote our resources. Go, sTEAM, go!
Thoughts from the “Mountain” – My Kingdom for A Single Grade Level
Is it a bad sign that after 18-years as a teacher in an ongoing series of “Specialist” positions that I’m thinking about the virtues of having a single grade level (aka, my own class)? It must be this cold/sore throat that I’m attempting to fight off… in my weakened state and all. I should know better. This really feels like this is just a case of “the grass is greener” syndrome.
Whenever we talk, mom asks me if I’m happy and I have a hard time coming up with a real answer. Not a good sign. Fourteen weeks (out of 37) into the school year and I haven’t gotten any sense of rhythm getting things done except that I’m not keeping up with creating my podcast, my blogging, my photography, etc., etc., etc. I really enjoyed my first real summer off, but maybe I didn’t give myself enough time before students arrived to get things set up. I thought I was handling all of the items that were delayed that were out of my hands… But I’ve missed too many deadlines to have a real positive attitude about all of this. Damn.
I know that my non-specialist coworkers work like crazy to stay ahead of everything and that for every thing that is complicating my work responsibilities that I’d gladly give up, it would only be replaced by something else were I to switch positions. I’m tempted to complain that I’m too old for this shit, except for my coworkers who are plugging away everyday who happen to be older than moi. I guess I just need to suck it up, buttercup. Next week is our Thanksgiving week break (yes, they now are giving us the whole week off!). Let’s see if I can’t get enough things off my To-Do list so that I can enjoy my Turkey Day with family and friends and not feel like I’m falling further behind.