Whew! What a year! If the past 9 months have taught me anything, it’s that so many of you out there are fiercely dedicated to your students and are passionate about creating more equitable classroom environments. My soul has been consistently kept afloat by the thoughtful conversations about equity that I have had with so many of our district’s teachers, support staff, administrators, and students. So many of you have come to me with quiet admissions that you aren’t sure where to start or how to possibly fix all that needs fixing. In solidarity, I’ve celebrated with you and shared heavy sighs of overwhelm with you because we know that the work of equity is never done. There are many days when the work feels intensely lonely and heavy but I’ve been so lucky to find amazing humans across the district (I hope you all know who you are), and across the world, to keep me going when the work gets tough. In this blog post, I want to introduce you to some resources that I have found to be fountains of information and support.
This is my current favorite! This is an awesome follow for very real conversations about the power of educators to create more equitable learning spaces. There is even a website to check out.
Val Brown is one of the founders of Clear the Air and she is amazing! I had the privilege of learning from her last fall at a Teaching Tolerance workshop and her passion and humor lift me up every time!
Speaking of Teaching Tolerance, it has been one of my go-to resources for years. They have lesson plans, articles, and all sorts of amazing resources.
Rethinking Schools is another resource that I have used for years! They publish books, produce films, and put out a magazine that is full of articles that have helped me rethink so many aspects of educational equity over the years.
Zaretta Hammond has really deepened my understanding of culturally responsive teaching this year. In her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, she uses research on brain science to help us understand the power culture has on learning. Her work has helped me think even more deeply about how to leverage culture to increase student engagement.
Dr. Adrienne Keene is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and an Assistant Professor at Brown University. She writes an amazing blog called, Native Appropriations, in which she talks about stereotypes of Native peoples. I can't even begin to list all the things I've learned by following her! She has really opened up my eyes to so many of the myths I've been told about Indigenous Americans and has helped me rethink the way we teach much of our American Indian curriculum.
And as always, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning is a wonderful resource! Dr. Sharroky Hollie can always fire me up! I have met so many amazing people through his work and if you aren’t following him yet, do so. He is always sharing stories of teachers from across the country (including many of our very own RPS teachers) who are on their responsiveness journey-assuring us that we are not alone in this work!
There are so many more that I love, and even more amazing folks out there whom I haven’t learned of/from yet. If you have any other folks you like to follow on Twitter, let me know so I can keep learning, too! Remember, the work of educational equity is hard, but we don’t need to do it alone. Let’s keep working together to do better for all of our students and families.
I hope you all have a wonderful summer and I look forward to continuing our equity journey next year!
This post brought to you by Kim Eversman, E-12 Equity Implementation Associate
One way to look back on your year is to ask yourself some questions about how the year went. George Couros, author of “The Innovator’s Mindset” and speaker we have had at RPS, invites teachers in his blog, The Principal of Change, to reflect on 4 questions. The questions range from “What did I do well this year?” to “How will all of these answers impact the learners I serve?”
4 Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year
Another resource, entitled “End of Year Reflection for Teachers,” by Jennifer Findley focuses on 8 questions to reflect on to help you grow and perfect your craft.
End of Year Reflection for Teachers
I know that by the end of May/beginning of June, I am tired and need time to reflect on what went well during the past year, what I want to keep and what I want to change. I know that if I don’t reflect on the year as soon as the year ends, the memory of what I did gets fuzzier.
Another approach is to think about what is currently happening around you and be present. This means doing things with family and friends, sitting on the patio, or just enjoying what is around you. It is also a time to continue PD but on a much more relaxed schedule.
Here are a couple of PD opportunities for you this summer:
1) Pages on the Patio (Rochester, Dover-Eyota and Byron school districts)
2) PD by the Pool: This is a great PD experience to do over the summer as you have time. Here is the link if you are not from Rochester Public Schools: PD by the Pool - Non RPS and if you are in the Rochester Public Schools: PD by the Pool - RPS
As July ends and August begins, I start to think about (and dream about) the upcoming school year. I spend time looking out the windshield to see what is coming up on the horizon. I see new projects starting to take form in my mind that I want to try in the new school year. I see reconnecting with my colleagues and making new connections with incoming students. I also see this as a time I can learn new things since I am more recharged. One great PD offering that is close to home is the First Institute in Kasson. Rebecca Mecikalski wrote about this last year in the blog entitled “Put yourself 'First'.” This year the First Institute will be on August 5th and 6th and the lineup of keynote speakers include Tim Elmore, Michael McDowell, Marcia Tate, and Rick Wormeli.
I am not sure about you, but I am looking forward to my “reflective drive” this summer (and I am hoping to take some real drives out in the country, too). I hope you can all get out there and take some much deserved time to reflect on your year and recharge.
This post brought to you by Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associate and STEM Village Director
We are in the midst of the crazy race to the finish of the year. Managing report cards, creating engaging lessons, planning field trips, end of year activities...the list could go on and on.
Yet, no matter what, in a few short weeks, many of us will begin our summer break.
As the school year comes to a close, it is the time of year in the cycle of teaching when we begin to reflect on the past year and make summer plans. One might think these are two separate tasks, yet often times these go hand in hand. Our chosen profession is relatively unique in that many of us have an end, a break, and then a new opportunity for a fresh start every year.
Below you will find a few articles that might help you embrace these three stages:
Hopefully, these resources will help you finish the school year strong, dive into summer, and start fresh again in the fall.
This post brought to you by Ann Miller, K-8 Math Specialist, along with
Heather Lyke and Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associates
As the school year draws to a close I am hearing many conversations about continued summer learning. Some people are planning to attend conferences, others are planning to keep learning by traveling, and still others are collecting titles for podcasts and other articles they want to read. Another popular topic has been doing some additional reading and learning about grading for learning. Here are seven ideas for growing your grading for learning mindset:
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However, if doesn’t spark joy, set it aside. Consider making three piles or lists for those items that no longer spark joy in you and your students:
This, at least for me, is the hardest part of tidying up. It may help to keep in mind what Marie Kondō notes in her first book: “when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
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Finish discarding before moving on.
Likewise, in our classrooms, we have to get rid of—or least commit to revamping—those items that no longer fit our students. Only then, once we see what remains, do we know what new format or structure might work best for the year to come. Only then, do we see if we have any gaps in our instruction.
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Organize by category.
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Designate a spot for everything.
This step reminds me of what I did about ten years ago when I revamped the American Literature course I was teaching. After having purged a few novels and some grammar units that were no longer sparking joy in my students, I rearranged. Because I figuratively laid everything out on the table, I was able to then see that my remaining content, texts, lessons, etc. fit into six themes. Embracing that fact, I rearranged from teaching American Literature chronologically, as I had always done in the past, to teaching it thematically. But it also meant I had some holes to fill: I was suddenly able to weave in a new book group unit and adjust how I taught grammar by embedding into our reading and writing tasks. It was a lot of work, but, ultimately, it lead to more effective learning in the years that followed.
As my husband and I are experiencing firsthand with our home, the act of downsizing can feel overwhelming while in the process of discarding. However, we look forward to placing all our remaining items back in the best order (ideally, in our perfect-for-us condo in downtown Rochester).
As Marie Kondō states, “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming...not for the person we were in the past.” This is true for our classrooms, too: we need to make them a place where students can grow into who they will become in this ever-changing world...not for the students we taught in the past.
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Members of the Secondary C&I team weekly post useful tools, tips, and tricks to help you help students.
Analysis & Inquiry
Grading For Learning
Instructional Learning Formats
Planning For A Sub
Quality Of Feedback
Regard For S's Perspective