Personal growth is very important to me. I follow the usual routes: reading, attending conferences, visiting other schools, experimenting. This year I realized there is one other hugely important source- right in front of me. An influx of new teachers over the last two years has transformed my thinking. New ideas, new approaches, new questions, and most important of all, new energy continually keep me alive and pushing. It is so important for schools to find a way to bring in new teachers to disrupt. This disruption forces the rest of us to reflect, evaluate, and often to recreate. So thank you to the learning specialist who has helped me see the value of Orton, to the tech teacher who has helped me step back and be thoughtful, to the second grade teacher who values and nurtures independence in her students, and to all of the new assistants who knock years off my life. Finally, thanks to the science teacher who reminded me that integration in the fragmented day of our young students is worth the battle I feel I have won and lost so many times. Here is her description of her most recent project:
Having spent the last year getting to know the LS Science Curriculum, I came into this year with the goal of kicking things up a notch and finding ways to deepen the boys’ learning and keeping my teaching fresh. One of the best ways I know how to do this is work with others to build bridges across the curriculum. One project particularly stuck out in my mind as being ripe for integration, so, with an idea in mind, my fingers crossed and a willingness to throw caution to the wind I broached the idea of revamping the 2nd Grade Fish Flipbook project with the Second Grade Team, our Librarians and the Second Grade Art Teacher. To my great delight (!), everyone responded with a resounding ‘yes’ and we set to work figuring out how to make the logistics work. I am happy to say that, at this moment, we are now poised to begin the project at the beginning of November with the science classes focusing on fish adaptations and fish morphology, the library classes focusing on conducting fish research, the art classes focused on creating fish renderings and the homeroom classes focused on turning research into writing all culminating into a beautiful final product (we hope!) that will be scientifically sound, grammatically correct, artfully designed and most importantly a vehicle through which our 2nd graders learned more deeply about key topics in science, art, writing and research. On a professional note, this project has given me the opportunity to work with and get to know colleagues whom I usually just pass in the halls – deepening my respect for them and understanding of how their work contributes to educating the ‘whole boy’. It has also inspired me to be more creative in my planning because I can now use time that was once spent in science class correcting grammar or having the boys sketch fish to focus on developing a scientifically rich curriculum on adaptation. I am also comforted in knowing that if the end result is not what we hope it to be, I am amongst peers who are full of brilliant ideas and a willingness to tweak and push forward until we have created a unit that has achieved all of our goals and served our boys well. Of course…regardless of how the end result turns out, there will be a celebration for all involved…because who doesn’t love a fish party?!?