Here are the things I loved about my week:
1. Monday was the Artist’s Tea at Maddie’s preschool. The highlight for me is always the fact that Teacher Rhonda teaches the preschoolers to serve drinks and small treats to family members. And it is all served on glass plates and cups (say, what?!). It’s amazing to watch Maddie ladel hot chocolate into small GLASS cups and then serve the plate and cocoa without spilling both her dad and me. It shows me that I step in and do too much for her sometimes – she is far more capable and independent than I give her credit for.
2. Wednesday I had time to meet with the amazing Jennifer Napoleon, Reading Teacher at Oceanlake Elementary, to discuss our Daily 5 PLC. In essence we are leading two schools through a book study, and providing support through observation, modeling, co-teaching, and planning yet have limited time to really talk about what we are doing. Often times, our conversations take place through Facebook posts or text messages. Jennifer has a deep understanding of Daily 5 and coaching teachers through implementation. I learn something new from her every time we meet and consider time with her a bright spot in every day, every week.
3. Speaking of the PLC, we met on Wednesday evening. The PLC interactions began as blog responses but I'm seeing and hearing that the format does not work for every PLC participant. We pulled everyone together for our first face-to-face gathering. I am always so impressed with teachers when they pull together on their own time and that they choose to do so. This is just evidence of what teachers will do when given a choice about what they want to read and how they want to grow professionally. I wish that we provided more choice for professional development that is embedded into their work day. They are stretched incredibly thin and they still show up.
Anyway, we gave participants time to engage in a collaborative assessment process that we use in our mentor program giving participants an opportunity to celebrate what they are doing well with Daily 5, challenges with Daily 5, identify where they are headed next, and then supports they need to continue to move forward. I loved hearing and seeing their reflections – I couldn’t help but feel proud of the teachers for their reflection, their honesty, their willingness to make themselves vulnerable. I work with amazing, dedicated educators.
4. Friday morning was a time for the mentor team to pull together for a monthly business meeting. Although the mentor project has been a part of the way we do business in my district for seven years, the mentor team is relatively new. We begin talking now about specifics of the January beginning teacher seminar so we aren’t planning at the last minute (I’ve done it but I cannot function well that way). For the first time since I joined the team, I feel like we are doing a better job of intentionally connected the topics of the seminars. Last month, we focused on formative assessment (and really differentiating it from summative and interim assessments). Next month, we take what they learned from formative assessment and apply it to the work we will do with analysis of student work. The seminar after that will focus on differentiating instruction and will build upon what they do with their analysis of student work. I guess, like new teachers, now that I’ve survived my beginning mentor years, I’m finally seeing how the seminars are interrelated or it really could be that we are better about connecting everything. For me, there’s just satisfaction in knowing that while we follow general themes in seminar from year to year that the way we are presenting them this year makes more sense - they're more interconnected and I believe are being facilitated in a way that will push teachers further in their practice.
5. Today we get our Christmas tree. I know, I know. Christmas is less than two weeks away. Maddie is at the age now where the anticipation of the holidays is fun. While we are working on the constant “wants” and being honest about not getting everything you ask for along with doing something for others can grow to be exhausting, she “gets” the season. She is excited about Christmas lights, loves the Elf on the Shelf (we are VERY low key about it), has had her picture taken with Santa, and wants to be part of every aspect of Christmas. She has already stated that she wants to be the one to put the star on the tree because she’s “never been able to before, mom”. She is just shy of 5 and I can't help but be in awe of watching her develop into an amazing, engaging little being. I love being her mom.