Monday, June 8, 2015

year 12 reflections

Crazy, I've been teaching for 12 years. TWELVE! This year, I finished my second as a Literacy Coach. Sometimes I feel like I'm really doing a great job, other times I feel like the school would be just fine without me. Either way, I'm going back for a third year next year. But before I get to that, here are some year 12 reflections so I can remember this journey I've been on!

Best Memories
Well, first, my principal encouraged Christine and I to present with her at the Illinois Reading Council Conference this year and we did! Although I was really nervous, I did enjoy sharing and I'm already signed up to present again this October! Anyone going to the IRC? I'm presenting with Colleen about using Social Media to personalize your PD. It'll be great fun, please join us!

The next one was getting to mentor two great teachers:

As a coach, it seems pretty natural that mentoring is one of my favorite things to do! While there were definitely many hard days, sharing the sense of accomplishment they felt when the finished their year was awesome. They are such great girls, and I'm so happy to call them my friends now!

I'm also super excited that I started a Blogging Club.

The kids who joined me and completed the year really do such a fantastic job! I know next year will be even better - there's already a few kids who I know will join us, and with some kids returning, they will make great mentors to the new kids. Additionally, I'd love to give the kids some detailed mini-lessons to make their blogs even better!

I got a slow start to this and didn't begin until after Spring Break, but once we got going, this was an awesome experience! Parents joined their kiddos after school for a Writing Workshop. We ended the six-week project with an Author's Chair. Parents and students read their writing and we shared great food to celebrate. I'm really looking forward to expanding this opportunity next year and have a few more teachers join me in giving the experience!

Missed Opportunities
Our fourth grade team has done a PHENOMENAL job on this year's summer reading project. Dennis set up a new gmail just for this project to communicate with families - last I heard they had over 200 parent email addresses there. Parents are already emailing in pictures of their kids reading - reading right when they wake up, on a plane to a family trip, and at the public library - and this is only our first Monday of break!

I put this in my missed opportunities because as Literacy Coach, I'm not sure why I wasn't driving this initiative, but honestly, I don't think I would have done it as well as Dennis, Michelle, and Alexa had. So thank you all, for doing such an amazing job on this. Our students are so, so lucky to have such dedication on our Emerson staff!

Game Changers
Twitter - definite game changer. This year I really got into sharing on Twitter and in doing so, I've connected with some great people. I've done a few Twitter Chats, too. It's so awesome to collaborate with teachers, literacy coaches, and reading specialists near and far!

Union Rep - I was the union rep for the first time this last year. Sometimes it was really, really hard. I always want to do my best to negotiate with our admins about the teacher's thoughts and feedback, but sometimes I take things too personally and...well, I'll just tell you. Cry. So I'm so excited to have a partner in crime next year, someone who will help balance me out! But, being union rep gave me a whole new lens to look at things through. Definite game changer.

I had a huge focus on Guided Reading this year. I wanted to learn more about it, and then, Christine and I presented what we were learning with the staff. This also helped me create a checklist for observing classrooms, and I was able to see this work being executed across the building. I know our work will continue to grow next year, too.... I'm really looking forward to our kinder teachers using Jan Richardson's Pre-A lesson plan to give our youngest kiddos just what they need to become successful readers!

This year we also focused a lot on creating rubrics to guide and evaluate student learning. We are moving towards Standards Based Grading, so reading On Your Mark (Guskey) really helped me understand why I spent many common plans with teachers talking about student work should look like. In some cases, classroom teachers used the rubrics and then revised them to make them even better for next year. I'm looking forward to expanding this work next year!

Maybe not forgot, but didn't do enough.... Our school has a Sunshine club, it's for teachers - not sure if it's a club or what to call it? Either way, it's made of teachers and we plan socials for the staff. It got off to a late start, we didn't ask for a big enough donation from each of the staff, and we didn't do much with it. Next year, I hope to get a good group of teachers together to plan monthly outings so we can have some time away from all the work of teaching and just enjoy one another's company!

Speaking of socials, one thing I've learned about myself is that a positive school culture is so, so important to me. Yes, salary is an important piece of why teachers work where they do, but I believe people will keep working where they do - no matter what the pay - if they are happy to be where they are. So, I'm hoping to be part of a great Sunshine group that keeps the positivity going all year long!

Something else I've realized: I'm not super qualified to mentor kinder teachers. I don't know enough about that grade level to be helpful. Of course, there are definitely many ways I can support, but I found myself outsourcing for many questions Gissel had. So, in the future, I'll stick to the intermediate grades!

How was your year? Please share your reflections by writing a post about your year and then linking it up with me here!


  1. I haven't done much with Twitter. I've had an account for a few years, but I don't spend much time on it. Maybe I'll have to look more into it. It sounds like you had a great year!

    A Very Curious Class

  2. This is so true: "Yes, salary is an important piece of why teachers work where they do, but I believe people will keep working where they do - no matter what the pay - if they are happy to be where they are." Thanks for writing it down!

  3. Hi there! I've been mulling this post over for about a month. Too late for the linky, but you did inspire my latest: By the way, love reading a blog by a fellow Chicagoan!


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