Monday, August 25, 2014

Accentuate the Positives, Walk the Line

Excellence in Education: Accentuate the Positives
The first week of school is by far my favorite week. Filled with energy, positivity and enthusiasm, the atmosphere rivals—and I’d argue exceeds—that of the last day of school.

Teachers are glad to that all of the mundane administrative stuff of the prior week are behind them; finally time to teach. It’s time to put a summer’s worth of planning and “next year, I’m going to try…” into action. Students are no different; each beginning the year with a fresh attitude.

The faculty parking lot filled up early on Monday (and no it wasn’t because we don’t have assigned parking anymore) and soon students poured into our halls to be greeted by friends and teachers.

As we go forward, I challenge each of us (me too) to maintain this energy throughout the entire school year. As we go forward, let’s continually support our students and each other. Undoubtedly, there will be days when we’re exhausted and emotionally spent, so let’s pledge to lift each other’s spirits with a pat on the back, a simple note, or a quick phone call or text.

Before we know it, SOLs will be here. We’ll be awaiting the 5am phone call to tell us that school is canceled, and we’ll be turning the term. Along the way, let’s maintain our enthusiasm and support each other by accentuating the positives. Let’s recognize and celebrate our efforts and our accomplishments.

Ideas for the Classroom: Walk The Line
Walk the Line is a simple classroom strategy that can be used to formatively assess students, to foster discussion, or to simply get students up and out of their seats. It allows students to practice thinking, speaking, and listening.

To begin the teacher creates a line in her classroom. The teacher indicates what the ends of the line stand for. Some possibilities: Agree/Disagree; For/Against, True/False, etc. Between the two end points are places for students who are on the fence.

Students then go to their spot on the line and the teacher randomly chooses various students to explain/argue their case. Other students are allowed to move according to the various arguments made (real feedback!)

This activity has lots of flexibility, so some other options.
1.      Have students work in pairs to determine their answer and send one student to the correct spot on the line.
2.      Instead of using a line, use the four corners of the room (Strongly Agree-Agree-Disagree-Strongly Disagree, for example).
3.      Have students take on different figures/persons. For example, if you’re looking at early American colonization, you could have students take on the role of a Native American, a European explorer, a European king, etc.
4.      Other possibilities for the ends of the line: Names of two people or two events (which was more important).

Administrative Notes

Due Dates for Initial Goal:
1.      Comprehensive Cycle: September 5, please remember to give pre-assessment as soon as possible. For those of you on the comprehensive cycle, if you’d like to set up a meeting before next Friday to discuss the pre-assessment data and the goal setting process, I’d be more than willing.

Additionally, I plan on trying to schedule quick (less than 15 minute) weekly meetings with those of you on cycle. This will help me provide more consistent and valuable feedback to you and ensure that we’re working together.

2.      Annual Cycle: February 6

Positive Referral Link:

Work Order Request Form:

Video of the Week:
Kid President’s Pep Talk for Teachers 

What I’m Reading

Preparing Your Students For Tomorrow’s Challenges  Definitely check out the links in number 6


Greg Armamentos said...

I also love the energy of the first week of school! The enthusiasm of new teachers, kids excited to be in new rooms with some new friends, and teachers eager to take on all the challenges and possibilities of the new year. We are diving head-first into the joyous uncertainty that the new year holds for us!

Keith Howell said...

The first week is the best... the building is always a buzz of excitement. I like your comment of "As we go forward, I challenge each of us (me too) to maintain this energy throughout the entire school year." So important to sustain the positive energy. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You have not only provided great activities but you have also injected us with enthusiasm. There is nothing like that first week of school. I have just finished mine and it was great! I'm not going to lie, I am exhausted and I only worked a four day week.

Jennifer Hogan said...

I love the tone of this post - encouraging and celebratory, mixed with practical suggestions. The first week is always the best, and we should strive to be consistent with our energy and enthusiasm throughout the year. The activity you wrote about is a good relationship builder, too, as students and teachers learn more about each other. You continue to inspire me, Reed! Thank you!