Reflection from the Year 2014-2015

I struggled with writing this reflection not because I didn’t know what to say or because I have so much to say about this year but because I have come to realize just how funny perception is. I felt and still feel that I have had one of my most enjoyable years of teaching however, some areas of growth have been brought to my attention recently that I am reeling from and it has resulted in a lot of deep personal introspection and reflection. It was explained to me in mid-May that some of my colleagues felt that I was unapproachable and aggressive, that my professional conduct and mental well-being were questionable. I went to a trusted colleague and sought his advice on how I could overcome these perceptions next year. He shared with me one key piece of advice and that was because I wear my emotions on my sleeve, I need to share with others when I am having a bad day and why. This is VERY hard for me because I do not let people in or trust people easily. This is something that I will work on but I know that I will need help with it. We also discussed ways in which I could make my assignment next year more enjoyable as French is not something that I am as passionate about as I enjoy the collaboration that takes place on a team. Traditionally, French is a solo mission and there are not many ways or opportunities to collaborate. I am looking for ways to collaborate with others in the division as well as with others in the building so that I can use French to enhance the learning that is done in grades 5 & 6. To that end, I have made a commitment to myself (that I will likely curse myself for later) that I will write comments for French that are focused on the competency wheel in order to show parents and students that French is not a fluff course but one that can provide us with deeper understanding about the impacts that the French have had on our nation and the world. I will also continue my participation in Design Team and I am hoping to have the opportunity to become more involved with the Professional Development activities that we participate in on PD Days as another way to collaborate with my school team. Although French is not my most desired position, I am trying to look at it as an opportunity for more time with my young family and an opportunity to gain a different perspective of myself and this profession that I love so much.

 

I also thought about playing a little game with staff called The Many Faces of Jessie Krefting. It works like this, if I am quiet or seem down, it is probably a result of one of the following:

  • I need more coffee
  • One or both of my kids had a bad night so I was up with them
  • I am frustrated with something happening around me and my parents always taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, to keep my mouth shut.
  • I am taking it all in and formulating or reworking an idea around in my head

If I am smiling and upbeat, it is probably a result of the following:

  • I have had enough coffee that morning
  • I got enough sleep the night before
  • I am loving life and the things that are happening around me

If I seem aggressive, it is probably a result of the following:

  • I’m fired up and passionate about an idea or something. I love this profession and that passion and love can come across in the wrong way. Sorry about that!!!

What do you think? Isn’t that fun?

 

Reflection on my specific goals…

The first goal on my growth plan was a group goal. We wanted to create a dynamic and highly functional team environment by improving communication amongst team members. This was definitely a goal that was not met on all fronts this year. Towards the end of the year, I felt that we did begin to make great strides in the right direction. I tried hard to be one of the leaders on my team by gathering everyone together for team meetings after school. When I had an issue with one of my team members, I did go and speak with that member directly. I always tried to keep things professional however, I did make errors in this area and am looking to use what I learned from these errors to improve myself. We all struggled with communication as a team but we all found at least one person with whom we could communicate openly and honestly with on our team. I was lucky enough to find three such people on my team: Dana, Craig and Bruce. I have noticed that since the beginning of May, our team’s communication has improved tenfold. We all seem to be on the same page and have been able to demonstrate this to our newest team member, Melissa to help her to get on the same page as well.

 

I tried not to take things personally however, I was not always successful. Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and unfortunately, I am not good at hiding my emotions. This is something that I have always known about myself however, this year I have learned that I do need to get better at controlling my emotions, especially my frustration and passion. This is something that I am committed to working on next year. Next year, I will also look for opportunities for free external PD as well as internal PD that focuses on developing interpersonal relationships, including communication.

 

My second goal was to learn to incorporate online writing tools in my writing workshop.  After collaborating with Dana Ariss to investigate Google Docs and other online tools, my students will have opportunities to write independently, collaboratively and give/receive feedback using these tools.

I believe that I have overwhelmingly accomplished this goal. I worked hard to be true to my 15 families who sent their students with devices by learning about the different online tools that were available to us and incorporating them into our classroom. My students and their parents have learned to use Google Classroom and I even held an information evening to help the parents who were struggling with Google Classroom to become more comfortable using it. I incorporated Doctopus and Goobric on Google to help imbed the rubrics directly onto the work that the students were completing digitally. I then sent copies of this feedback to both students and their parents via email. I also provided students with audio feedback on projects in Math so that they were able to correct their work independently and I was able to sit with those that were struggling. I think the greatest success I saw with technology this year was when I provided my students with feedback using the voice memo function on my phone. I was able to immediately provide the students and their parents with feedback which many families listened to together prior to the students coming into school the next day. This allowed for me to work with those whom I identified as struggling and those that got it to work more independently. In the future, this would be the format in which I would like to give feedback to students.

 

My students participated in an online writing forum called 100 Word Challenge where each week the students would be given 5 words to incorporate into a story or a picture prompt to write about. The students had to write about the topic in 100 words. They then submitted their blog posts to the website and teachers and students from around the world commented on their posts and provided them with valuable feedback. The one area that we needed to work more on was the giving feedback to others in the class. This is one area that I would like to improve on for the next time.

 

My third and final goal was to improve my questioning techniques to engage students in higher level critical thinking and problem solving. I continue to work on this goal and will continue to work on it throughout my career as I don’t feel that one ever truly master this as it is dependent on the students. It is something that is important to learn from as I know that solid questions help the students to dig deeper into their learning. The three questions that I asked my students all of the time were:

  1. What are we learning?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How did we know we were doing good work?

I state these questions as plural rather than singular as the students and I are a learning team. We work together to get better at thinking and learning.

 

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