Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#noofficeday number two

Yesterday was my second "no office day" and I looked forward to spending another Monday with teachers and students. There were a few classes I didn't get to last week and I wanted to be sure I didn't miss them this week. I was also excited because this week I was asked to teach lessons in several classes! I grabbed my iPhone and my writer's notebook and headed out. On a side note, I also wore a long dress and comfy shoes so I could get down on the floor easily!

Each week, as I spend time with students I'll be thinking about these questions:

What did I learn? 
What did I notice?
What does the teacher want me to learn?
What do the students want me to learn?

Off to my first class... third grade!

Ms. Fraser teaching a group on the carpet

This clipboard rocks. Whiteboard on one side!
Check out the expanded notation!

Task cards.

3rd grade = super focused and independent!

Next stop... second grade and readers workshop!

Mrs. Evans setting expectations for readers workshop!

After that, I headed to first grade to teach a readers workshop lesson. I decided to use a read aloud from the current unit that had been read to the class on Friday-- A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee! Here's the story if you've never read it! The first graders listened for the beginning, middle, and end.

Getting to work!

Love the illustrations!

In the other first grade class, kids were hard at work at centers. This group was illustrating and reading their poems from the North America coniferous forest unit!
Bears here, bears there!

After watching the TK kids at lunch, I headed to kindergarten to teach writing! I got to teach both classes about what kindergarten writing looks like, what we do during writing time and then they wrote about anything they wanted! They dove right in!

Can you read it? This kinder author read it to me.

My brother is cool. My mom is beautiful.

I like hello kitty.


Writing about dragons.

"I'm going to write about the sky and flowers and trees."




Finally, I stopped by a 4th grade class on the first day of their enrichment flip. This class is the playwriting group- and they will be entering their scripts in the B Street Theatre contest! One of their scripts may be performed on their Spring tour!
Brainstorming creative ideas. 

What did I learn? 
I learned that our teachers are differentiating instruction in a variety of ways and setting high expectations for students to work independently so they can meet with small groups of students. Our teachers are planning CREATIVE instruction around student interests and our students are loving it!
What did I notice?
One thing I really noticed was how kind our students were to each other. In third grade, one of the students got stuck and another explained what to do right away. They also enjoyed each other. Each room was a little community, even in the playwriting class where the students were a mixture of 4th and 5th grade students from all classes. 
Next week, I'll be asking these questions of teachers and students.
What does the teacher want me to learn?
What do the students want me to learn?

I love just being with teachers and kids- in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and in the drop off line. I can't wait until next week!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School: My first "no office day"

image credit

At the end of last year, I was inspired by two blog posts I read on Twitter about having a "no office day". To be honest, all of last year was kind of an accidental no-office day because I had to wear a variety of hats- lunchroom supervisor, front desk receptionist, and even janitor from time to time. Our small school, while amazing to me, struggled to keep everything covered with a very limited staff. This year, our little TK-3 school grew to include 355 TK-5th grade students, and with the addition of students, we were able to add some additional support staff. I'm so excited! I love to be in classrooms, but last year I wasn't able to get in as frequently as I would have liked because we were just so busy!

After reading No Office Day by Matthew Arend and Why we love “no office day”  by Jessica Johnson & William King, I was determined to find a way to get into classrooms on a regular basis this year. In looking at my schedule, I decided Monday would be the day! 

Why do No  Office Day? 

Patrick Larkin said in the first comment of David Truss' post on Connected Principals
“…I think I need to schedule a no office day. Every time I visit classrooms, I am filled with positive thoughts and energy from seeing the work of staff and students."

David Truss also had this to say, 
"So why a whole day? Every administrator spends time in classrooms… every one that I know wishes they could spend more time doing it. Permitting yourself to spend the whole day in classes is cathartic. It is a battery charger like no other, and let’s face it, everyone needs a burst of enthusiasm..."

Last Monday was my first "official" #nooffice day and I visited 9 out of our 13 classrooms! For now, I am spending 30 minutes or so in as many classrooms as I can, and starting in September, my plan is to focus on just a few grade levels each Monday of the month. On those days, I might teach a lesson the teacher has planned, or a lesson I design myself. I might work with a small group of students, or I might just be there to dive in to whatever activity happens to be going on in that classroom. 

Every Monday I'll be out of my office and in classrooms learning with students and teachers, I'm putting it on my calendar and sticking to it. I'm even going to commit to blogging about it as one way I can hold myself accountable. I also find when I blog, I reflect and learn and make my learning public to my students, staff, families, and other educators. After all, I found inspiration for #noofficeday by reading the blogs of others, so perhaps I'll inspire someone else along the way! 

Being out of my classroom doesn't mean I will be disconnected from the needs in and around our school. My iPhone is always with me and it allows to me to keep connected to the office, and respond if needed without ever leaving the classroom. It also allows me to capture images of learning in action and I'll be sharing them each week when I blog.

Here is one of our Kindergarten classes doing some hip hop last Monday. You can't see me, but I am right there dancing with them! I'm still smiling about it!

Here is another video I made with some of the images I captured last week.

I can't wait-- tomorrow is another #noofficeday!