As educators, we need to really make sure our instruction suits the needs of our learners. We can do this best when we know what each of them is actually doing each day. Using tools like GAFE helps to make that available in a variety of ways. Whether through revision history or comments or even peer comments (as in the picture), students are able to work at their own pace and we are then able to adjust appropriately as often as needed.
There are so many truly inspirational and thoughtful pieces of wisdom we learn from characters. We connect to them in their strengths and we something aspirational and in their follies and foibles we see ourselves in their humanity. Literature helps us see the best in the world and the worst and offers us opportunities to discuss it in lieu of politics or current events. With this great wisdom, we must live and not only read so we have great wisdom of our own to share. What's your favorite quote from literature? Please share
Justin Birckbichler is a fourth grade teacher in Stafford, Virginia and a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is currently battling testicular cancer and has a strong prognosis of being 100% cured (not just in remission). You can follow his journey and help spread awareness at aballsysenseoftumor.com and read a longer version of this story at his educational blog at blog.justinbirckbichler.com. Connect with him directly via Twitter or email.
Although there have been countless other daily risks taken as it pertains to assessment reform and conversations had, the above were the most significant risks I took this year. Since I'm always looking to keep pushing forward, standing on the precipice of success and failure, has become a ledge I'm all too acquainted with. And failure does happen. And that's okay. With each unsuccessful risk comes an opportunity for reflection and continued growth.
Any change worth making take a fair effort of all stakeholders involved, so it is necessary for us to do our best to make sure the message is clear as to why and that lines of communication are open to answer questions that arise. Change is hard and it invokes fear in most people, so we must make sure we do what we can to ease that discomfort.
Remember the children we teach are "whole". We can't always cater to the academic at the peril of other aspects of who they are as people. Consider the social emotional well being of your students and let them reflect on learning already done and prepare for what is to come when they return.
More than learning about myself and others, was dispelling myths about certain ways of communicating and working on leaving judgment behind. It's important to see these styles as a given and once we know who we are and we are dealing with, we can more effectively collaborate.
The more comfortable I get in my new school, the luckier I feel to have such amazingly intelligent and caring people around me. Which colleagues are you most grateful for in your school building?
As teachers, our greatest lessons are truly found in what we do and what we give our students permission to do each day in and out of our classrooms - not in what we say or scribble in a plan book late on a Sunday night. In addition, our students often see their classmates through our lens and if Olivia's concern was important to me at that moment, it became even more important to her classmates.
Many students work hard when it comes to doing the things they connect with like playing a sport or learning a musical instrument; even gaming generates opportunities to persist. Candy Crush for example, says you "failed" when you don't complete a level, yet, we don't throw our hands up in the air and never return to the game. We keep playing until we pass and sometimes we even continue to play to surpass an earlier score. However, students don't connect these skills to their learning. We have to make it transparent.