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Showing posts from June, 2015

24. Revision and Feedback

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It is day 2 of summer vacation and I am ready to dig back in.  I know I am crazy.  I know this about myself though.

I have taken myself to my favorite coffee shop around the corner from my house, I have a brand new pad of paper, a fresh charge on my laptop and a large iced coffee.

At the end of the school year I did an Exit Survey with AP Lang to get some much needed feedback on how they felt things went this year.  Most of the questions were on a 1 to 5 scale with just a few open ended.  They pushed students metacognitively, challenging them to think about their thinking.

Here are a few examples: 


As well as three open ended questions: 
(Starred questions are required.)

In the end, I got 26 of 31 students to submit feedback.  I was able to share the feedback with my Admins and it proved to be a great place to open a dialogue for end of the year evaluation/conferences.

I have always done some level of student self-assessment, but this was by far the most effective feedback I have re…

23. When Is The Right Time To Tell Our Own Stories?

I read a great article on The Players' Tribune by elite soccer athlete Christie Rampone called "This Is 40".  She raises great points about growing older, being a mom and wife as well as a leader to other women.  While I am not an athlete, nor a mom, I am turning 38 this year and I am a leader in my work community.  I forwarded the article on to one of my Juniors who plays four varsity sports, has had numerous internships in the tech industry over the last three years and maintains an extremely high GPA.  In the subject line line of the email I simply put: "Great Article".  About 3 hours later I got a reply: "Yes. It is." I know that sharing stories of strong women who are exemplars for new generations is an important part of being an educator.   I began a class two weeks ago on memoir writing.  I had immersed myself this past year in the creation of a curriculum for Advance Placement Language and Composition, a College Board approved course that I tau…

22. What happens when the routine is what holds it all together?

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It has begun.  The end of the year Facebook rants from teachers, myself included, about needing the year to be over.  Here in New York City we always work until the end of June, I think for the most part because we have more religious holidays in our school calendar than many other parts of the country most recently, the long awaited addition of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.  For high school teachers, the last two weeks of school are the administration of NY State Regents Exams, content specific tests that all students must pass a minimum to graduate.  For the K-8 crowd, it is a different story and I am sure in many ways even more exhausting than for HS teachers.  
While I don't mind being busy, I find that I depend on the routine and the business of the calendar.  This is my light week:
The longer I teach, the more I know I thrive in the routine.  I wake up at 5:30 AM, take my pill, shower, get ready, make lunch, walk to train (I have 2 routes I always take- there is no variation), …

21. When Do You Feel Most Like You Work On A Team? Reflection on what makes a successful department. #edblogaday

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You have all heard it, "There is no I in TEAM."  I always tell my kids that cliches are cliches for a reason.  I have had some amazing team work experiences.  They seem to empower all the players, celebrate each person's strengths, and showcase what working together and hard can produce.  I have had experienced this trifecta of teamwork most frequently when I worked in professional theatre.  I think it is in part because each member of the team has a speciality and focus, something unique that they bring to the table and that is celebrated and capitalized on for the betterment of the production.

In schools it is the same, yet different.  Yesterday at our spring day long professional development we began the day with an exercise I have done at least three times now.  The Leadership Compass Self-Assessment (from Be The Change Consulting) You go through the list of traits for each of the compass points and then determine which direction represents you the most.  We were then…

20. Growth Mindset- Holding On To What Is Important.

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When I started teaching, I had the dream of being in the same school for the duration of my career.  I had teachers in high school who had always taught at Roosevelt High- Mr. Brink, Ms. Ryles, VK. My father's best friend had been a student of Mr. Brink in the 1960's for history and I took his class in the mid 90's.  It was in Brink's class that I really leaned to take notes- good notes.  The note taking skills that would serve me through college.  He was a legend and had a legacy.  Ruben Van Kempen, affectionately known by his students as VK has just retired this year after 37 years. Ms. Ryles taught sewing and textiles for 30+ years as well, truly a dying art form.  I loved those teachers and those classes.  They were tied up in the romanticism of teaching for me as I went through graduate school.  This is what teaching was going to be like.

I was wrong.  I will say this- there is a HUGE difference between my affluent, super white, privileged high school where someth…

19. Getting Lost In The Exhauastion

I hit the overtired place but there is no room for slowing down for a few more weeks.  I am thankful for tomorrow and the brief respite from classes with the day of early Regents exams and then all day PD on Thursday.  In the mean time we had interviews last week and two more today.  It's a process thinking about who and why and where they would fit in and what they would bring to the dynamic of an already strong team.

There is also the larger piece- thinking longer term- beyond the next year.  What do we as a team need in the next 3, 4 and 5 years.  Where will I fit into this dynamic? Who will still be with us?  Who will have moved on, moved forward.  I suspect this will be a school that people stay with for a long time (provided the school culture does not dramatically change).  So what is the compliment.  An argument can be made for many of the amazing people we have met.  Only time will tell.

I donated the remaining three weeks before Regents exams to the Living Environment dep…