Saturday, June 25, 2016

Algebraic Thinking in Kindergarten?

We have all seen those words in our standards....algebraic thinking. You might be thinking...WHAT?!...these kids are in Kindergarten. Yep. You are right. They are and guess what? They CAN do algebra. In fact, it is really easy for them!

 I have had the honor and privilege to be in the presence of some really amazing math gurus and I have to tell you, Greg Tang, by far is my most favorite because he recognizes that we do not need to limit our students based on what the standards depict, but rather going with that they know, what they want to know and what they are capable of learning and doing. This leads me to a time when Greg, or Greggy (as my groupie self likes to refer to him as) approached the subject of algebra in the primary classroom. He started by saying his pen was 5 and his cell phone was 3 and if we put those together how much do we have....8, we have 8 and THAT IS ALGEBRA!

See the amazing thing about this is that with the little ones, in most cases, no one has told them that algebra is hard or dumb or SCARY! With this in mind, I have worked long and hard to figure out a way to put this on paper for students. I think that I have figured it out.

Check out my latest creation!

 Click on the cover
This is just the start of mind working on getting students comfortable with algebra!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What is going on?

I spent that last school year serving in the position of Teacher On Assignment, much like being an Assistant Principal, but without the title or the pay. (LOVED IT!)  In this role, I learned so many new things. Many about leadership, but more so about how the emotional and social behavior and lack of support there is in our schools. This monumental discovery is what fueled my fire to move into learning about how we can better support our students and teachers with behavior. I am shocked to see how much has changed in the few short years since I left the classroom.

***To be clear, I do not mean that this applies to all students or even all schools.

When did educators become so punitive? When did handing out punishments begin to happen more often than smelly stickers? (I miss smelly stickers!!?)

I remember having students who misbehaved and no matter what I tried, I couldn't get them on track. BUT, that was few and far between, while in recent years we are seeing an increase in behavior situations in our schools.

In elementary schools, I most often see students who do not like being told no, they leave the classroom when things do not go their way, they can't cope with structure and routines and throw room destructing tantrums. I think it is safe to say that it is not just the students who are lacking skills. Teachers need help too!

The middle schools are effected in a whole different way with the influence of social media! Bullying has been raised to a whole other level. The majority of students aren't viewing their educational experiences as important or vital to their future success.

An overarching pattern that is in all of the age groups and grade levels is the lack of caring about learning! Students are not motivated learners. Teachers are frustrated. Administration is running out of options to keep students in school as the severity of infractions is on the rise.

We all need help and we need it now. "Be the change you want to see in the world." RIGHT?! So....I took a leap of faith and applied to become a district specialist focusing on behavior in the district. I am committed to supporting administrators, teachers and students. (I got the job!!)

One thing I know for sure is that we need to focus on building relationships with our students and I mean really getting to know them. We need to be kind. Kindness is vital. Empathy is vital. Believing in our students is crucial. It is time for prevention, intervention  and collaboration.

If not me, who? If not now, when.

Well I say ME and NOW!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Making Assumptions...

This week I attended a meeting about having difficult conversations and one of the many things that stood out to me was the discussion on making assumptions. We are all guilty of making assumptions. However, one of the things that I have learned in my 16 years in education is that we should not make assumptions about students or about their life outside of school.

It is easy to assume that the child who is tardy every day is tardy because her mother is lazy or doesn't care about her child's education when in reality she may be a mother who works nights, leaving her daughter in the care of a sitter only to stumble through the door from an exhausting night shift just before the tardy bell. Maybe, just maybe, it takes all of her left over energy to load her child in the car and get her to school.

It is easy to assume that a child who demands constant attention from his teacher must not get any attention at home. Maybe, just maybe, the child does the same thing at home and the parent gets a well-deserved break while the child is in school. The school gets him for 6 hours, while the mother at home covers the other 18 hours. Hours that are spent trying to get the child to sit through dinner, get him tucked in bed while answering 52 questions and listening to his endless stories of what he knows about space.

It is easy to assume that students who are routinely absent are gone because the family just doesn't put education as a priority. Maybe, just maybe, that family doesn't have a home and are spending nights where they can and when they are fortunate to have a place to stay close to school they send the kids to school.

It is easy to assume that the student who is constantly telling you stories is doing so to avoid doing their assignment. Maybe, just maybe, they live in a home where conversations are not a regular thing and no one takes the time to listen to them.

I know that I am guilty of making assumptions, many that I should not have made. I spent years teaching in one of the roughest parts of Phoenix. It was easy to judge, to assume. What did the assumptions prove? What did they do for me? Maybe, just maybe, it made it easier for me to deal with students. I am not sure. However, I do know what I have learned and what I have taken away from teaching a diverse population.

Don't assume. Assumptions do not come from facts or truths.

Instead, value the time that the student is present. Thank the parent for calling. Thank the parent for visiting the school. Build relationships with students. Build relationships with parents.

We don't get to choose who our students are, where they come from, if they are fed, if they have a bed to sleep in, or if they want to be in school.

As teachers, it is our job to teach to the best of our abilities and to find the best of the abilities of our students. Education is not and never will be a one-size-fits-all platform. 

Kids are not the only ones who think teachers are superheroes.....I do too. So put on your cape and do what you were meant to do; TEACH!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Goals for 2016! that is a word that we hear daily in education. Why do we need goals? What is the purpose of setting goals? Well....

Goals lead us to planning. Planning?!!! Another word we hear daily in education. Planning is a part of the art of education. Everyone involved in a school plans!

Teachers plan lessons...
Teachers plan transitions...
Teachers plan brain breaks...
Teachers plan assessments...

Much of what teachers do is centered around planning. So setting goals for ourselves and for our students AND with our students leads us to planning. Planning for success!

This year I have BIG goals which require BIG plans!

Goal #1 - Build Relationships

I have been building relationships since the first day I set foot into a classroom on a school campus some 17 years ago. I continue to build relationships with students, teachers, administrators, professors and community members. I know that relationships are worth the time and effort...and they make my heart happy! I build relationships because I care. I care about the 5th grade student who slept on the couch of a neighbor. I care about the teacher who came to work today despite having a rough night. I care about the parents who make sure their kids get to school each day. I care about education.  When we care about those around us, they perform better. We perform better. 

You know what Rita said....
By building relationships with students we become their champion! Not all students come to school with a champion and it is our job to make sure they all have one (or two, or three...)!

I won't deny that sometimes it can be hard. Really, really hard! Some students just aren't having it, right? I always keep this in mind....

Goal #2 - Read more!

I know....sounds silly, but really...I want to read more. I am pretty sure my husband is going to block me from ordering books from Amazon some day. I am constantly reading blogs, newsletters and posts about education and when  book is recommended, I look into it. I would say that 9 times out of 10 I order the book. Hence, I have a pile of books just waiting to be read! This year, I will have more time for reading and I am going to try my hardest to split my reading time 50/50 between leisure reading and reading from my educational book stack from Amazon. (Seriously, you can buy with one-click!)

Here are a few that I have in my stack...

Goal #3 - Take it all in!

Just a few weeks ago I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a second master degree. This time in Educational Leadership because I want to be a principal. While lots of teachers grew up saying their wanted to be a teacher, I was the little girl who wanted to be a principal! What?! YEP!

I am fortunate to be in a position as an administrator in a K-5 elementary school at this time. I am learning so much each day. As the year wraps up and a new school year begins, I want to take it all in. I have a notebook where I jot down things I want to remember when I am a principal. Sometimes it is advice I receive or an observation that I make. My goal is to take more time to be reflective and record more in my notebook.

Build relationships, read more and be more reflective! My goals for 2016!

Happy New Year to All! Let's do this!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year FREEEEEEEBIE!!!!

Happy New Year! I just know that 2016 is going to be FANTASTIC!

Make sure to hop on over to my TPT store, Rachel's Rockin' Resources to grad this ONE DAY ONLY FREEEEEEBIE!!!!

Simply click on the cover photo to head over to my store to grab it! Make sure to share this post with your friends and give me some love by following me on TPT if you like this product!

 Super Skip Counting

I hope your year is the best it can be!