Thursday, December 22, 2011


It's almost the new year, and I've been on an extended blog-break (ah, how life happens in the midst of our best plans!), so I've decided to reflect on my posts, and how I've responded to the challenges I've posed to my readers up to now before starting with fresh topics in the new year.

1.  Flipping the classroom

I have really only done this with my high school class, and then only with grammar lessons.  It works well...when the students watch the videos.  As was my initial concern with flipping, students who do not complete other homework, will not watch the videos.  On the other hand, it frees class time to do enrichment activities with students who complete the homework while I reteach students who did not watch the videos, and they get more attention (usually needed) in a smaller group.  As I have maintained, this is another tool in the bag of tricks, and I will keep tweaking....

2.  Be proactive:  make a change

I. Got. This.  Being back in the middle school setting, I have completely changed my way of approaching my students -- in no small part due to what I have learned from my rockin' PLN.  My classes are self-paced, mastery classes, and my students and I enjoy life and learn more each day.

3.  My 3 Goals under Challenging my assumptions

I invited the building principal and one of the assistants to join Twitter.  No takers, but I'll gently keep at it.

I have not joined the Communications Committee, but it is not structured the same way at the middle school.  Honestly, this goal had slipped my mind, which is why this reflection is a good thing!

I invited the building principal and one of the assistants to visit my classroom (read:  computer lab).  The assistant who will be doing my review this year stopped in this week, so I feel successful!

4.  Honestly, this one was a no-brainer, because I found our opening day PD quite inspiring, without any  effort at all -- a great way to start the year!!

5.  I have truly made an effort to demonstrate gratitude as often and as publicly (in my blogs) as possible.  I highly recommend it!!

6.  My students know what it means to experience a FAIL -- First Attempt In Learning.  They also know when I experience a FAIL, because I am never shy to point it out to them (unless they point it out first!!)

7.  Giving up control.  I like to think that with my new self-paced mastery philosophy, allowing students choice in how they demonstrate their learning, I am right where  I should be in sharing control with my students. Then, they schooled me....again.

8.  Shaking up the physical space:

I am loving what I am able to do with physical space.  I have been in the computer lab more than the library these days, so what is available is different, but in some ways it is a sort of freedom to not have my own classroom.  I don't feel "tethered" to any one space, so I'm always asking myself what kind of arrangement will work, instead of starting with  a prescribed setting.

9.  Gathering information about my students

This is a way of life.  Today I met the student teacher who will be joining me next month.  I think that was the most important thing we discussed today.  We teach students, not curriculum, and without knowing who we are teaching, we are simply imparting information.

10.  Goalsetting with students:

This needs work.  My initial concerns about embracing a new platform for daily use were justified.  It was too much for my students.  I will be regrouping over vacation, and working more with them when school starts back up.

11.  Looking at the big picture instead of finger pointing.

Definitely easier said than done on some days, but when the going gets rough, I breathe deeply, repeat to myself "I do this for the kids", and tweet @AngelaMaiers to remind me I matter.

If you're a blogger, then this challenge is likely unnecessary, but here's my challenge for the New Year:

Honestly reflect on your school year so far.  Tally your successes and failures, set yourself some new goals, and count your blessings.

Let me know how it goes!

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