Tag Archives: reflection

PLNs Please

Reflection is a part of teaching. As summer begins every year, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Professional Learning Communities have been all the rage in the last few years. These PLCs can be defined by one’s common planning time/conference period, the entire core subject department, the grade level of the department and/or team teaching, but they do not have to be limited to these groups.

Regan suggests in her blog posting on Master Teaching that “teachers need time with their colleagues outside the classroom, . . .” and many teachers and administrators would agree, for how can one mentor another if they do not spend time together outside of the classroom? Too often we hear the quick response, “There’s not enough time!” Here is the clincher; we must make time to mentor new teachers. Moreover, we as veteran teachers  must make time to rejuvenate our teaching practices. It is important to stay relevant and have the ability to connect to our audience.

Collectively, all teachers need to asses their instruction to create better teaching. This is where teaching becomes a craft. Any great craftsman hones his craft, which makes him a better craftsman in his specific field. As teachers we have many options in professional development; however, what is better than analyzing and developing our own craft of teaching? Reflection, discussion and analysis can be great avenues in improving our teaching skills and assessment strategies. Collaborating with our peers and colleagues can allow for success all around – for new teachers, veteran teachers and students!

It is an ideal situation to be able to use our conference period(s) and/or common planning time(s) to meet with our colleagues in a physical PLC. What do you do about developing your PLC, if the ideal situation is not realistic on your campus? For example, what does a teacher do in this instance if her planning time is not the same as her mentor teacher’s planning time (imagine the endless possibilities of variables in public schools that create challenging schedules to accommodate our students, much less our teachers!)?

Professional Learning Networks not only can be far larger than one’s department, but also can be more accessible, more informed and resourceful and very positive. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are just a few networks which allow teachers access to the entire world. I enjoy connecting with other teachers and administrators from other subjects, grades, districts, states and countries around the world via Twitter. There are numerous positive elements of using social media networks for professional learning and networking.

How do you create more effective instruction and assessment in your classroom? In your department?

Mentors and veteran teachers, what suggestions would you share with new teachers about perfecting his/her instruction and/or assessment?

Do you use an effective format for your PLC on your campus? Tell us how it works for you.

If you use Twitter (or any other social media network for your PLC) and you are willing to connect and network with other teachers, please feel free to comment and share your contact information and other resources.

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Curriculum Conundrum

Reflection is a part of teaching. As the new calendar year begins, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Step#4 – Design Curriculum That Works

We often hear teachers say they do not have enough time. There are days where I wish I could just sit in my room and quietly grade papers. However, there are many more items on my to do list which are far more important that sitting still. Our world is changing, and we better start changing with it. If we as teachers do not embrace that change, we will be the ones left behind. Far gone are the days of the Mimeograph machine and using the same lessons that the kindergarten teacher used when we were in her class.

Curriculum is touchy word these days. I feel it is extremely important to have aligned curriculum, both vertical (k-12) and horizontal (across the department). Many teachers have often created their own curriculum, designed their own lessons, and made their own assessments using the Scope and Sequence the district offers and/or demands.

At a conference last summer, a teacher from Arkansas asked me about Common Core. I had not heard of it until then. I began discussing Common Core with a few other teachers and realized that the purpose of Common Core was to provide the continuity of curriculum across the nation. The problem with that is not all states will agree to one curriculum.

C-SCOPE is another name that has often surfaced in Texas Education. There are varying opinions of both Common Core and C-SCOPE. In Texas, we have TEKS, which are the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and these TEKS are assessed by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS test, soon to be known as the STAAR test. My question has always been, does the test drive the curriculum, or does the curriculum drive the test?

My experience with a curriculum program in a suburbia area of Texas was positive. I see the value of having the same skills being covered during the same time frame. There was a time when our families were not as migrant and mobile. Education today is much different than it was 10, 20, and/or 30 years ago.

What are your thoughts on Common Core and/or C-SCOPE? Do you use a pre-planned curriculum? Did you have a part in planning it? I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

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Reflection and Planning


On the first day of class, this hallway seems to be the longest hallway in the history of education. In my mind the students cannot get into my classroom fast enough.

After twelve years of public education, one might say that it becomes monotonousness. For me, this is not true. I do not think I could ever look at my career with that perspective. I am the one who still gets up early to go to the store to view the new school supplies months before the first day of school. I love school! I always have, and I probably always will.

One might think that I am an expert at what I do. That depends. What exactly do I do on a daily basis? When I try to verbalize exactly what it is that I do, I always come back to giving. I give of myself. I tell stories. I crack jokes. Above all, I have fun. However, wonder if my students do.

Looking back on this school year, I see things that worked, things that did not work and things that could have worked better. I want to be an example for my students and admit when I have been wrong. This is very important to me because I see a need for students to see that adults are not always right. They need to see that we are human, just like them – against the popular belief that we hang ourselves up on a hook in our classroom every night.

New things to implement . . .

1. Student discovery learning: instead of the skill drill effect, lecturing, and what the students like to call “busy work”

2. Better Test-taking strategies: not that my goal for students is to be the best test-taker in the world, but teaching them strategies that work for testing, studying, learning (e. g. Cornell Notes, analyzing analogies, building vocabulary that they will actually use).

3. Utilize the technology offered: research is going to play a key factor in the ELA TEKS this coming school year; how not to plagiarize . . . yes, this needs to be taught!

4. Progression of Higher Level Bloom’s Taxonomy: students must move beyond the wrote knowledge into the production of knowledge.

5. Recursive Writing: as opposed to completing a writing assignment, turning it in, and I’m done.

Let me ponder on these. I am not sure this is the wording I want to use. This is rough, very rough!

More later . . .

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