One Sunflower

twist me and turn me… (the other half of the Marco post)

on May 17, 2010

Are you familiar with the words from the Brownie Scout ceremony?  ” Twist me and turn me and show me the elf,  I looked in the water and saw…… ”

I pity the teacher who only has the assessments of her students as her reflecting pond.  I have students who make marvelous progress and those who seem to tip toe through the tulips.  But I know I have impacted all of them regardless of the trajectory on their assessments.  Sometimes my impact happens in the first month, sometimes it happens in the last minute.  Sometimes I impact their families more than I impact the student.  It isn’t all measurable on an assessment but I do believe there is always evidence. 

The mirror I care most about is one that tells me how I’m doing as a learner – because I think there are always better ways to do my job, or ways to strengthen what I’m doing. 

Just like my students, I am expected to have my own ILP.  It is my responsibility to create it and I ultimately make choices for the learning/progress that happens but my principal and colleagues are primary resources.  This ILP has a cycle of inquiry to it  – I choose an “individual problem of practice” and identify actions in 4 categories: curriculum, assessment, instruction and professional development that I will use to impact the problem or seek support.  I also record what “evidence” I might see that my “problem of practice”  is being addressed. 

This year I wanted to increase the English oral language in my students – because 2/3 of them were Spanish speakers.  I focused on using daily routines, peer/teacher relationships, and our journal writing experiences as my curriculum actions.  I used anecdotal evidence, the oral language portions of our assessments and journal conferences as my tracking tools.  I used a small group of students that were particularly low in oral language skills – both in Spanish and English – as my “bellwether” students to pay particular attention to.   By narrowing my focus in identifying specific work as well as targeted students, I found I had a better idea of what was working and how to support the class as a whole. This was my first year using this cycle of inquiry format.  I’m looking forward to participating in it again next year and am hoping to bring the process to other early childhood colleagues I work with.

I, in turn, am expected to be a mirror to the district.  Our assistant superintendent sent out a form last week asking:  What is currently going well in our literacy work (teaching and learning ) at your school and in the district?  What are some areas of concern or challenge?  She had 5 areas to respond to: Curriculum/Instruction, Assessment, Resources, Grade Level Collaboration, and Professional Development.  She gave us 3 columns to fill in: Going well, Concern, Needs.  These information sheets were gathered from every teacher across the district to help with planning for next year.  We have been given a 2 year extension with our Gates grant and these forms will help determine the focus of the grant money. 

Today was our end of year reflection day for the early childhood program in the district.  This is an annual event and one we all look forward to.  This is the third year of bringing all of our partners to the table to reflect and celebrate.  Besides the teachers and assistants, the superintendent and assistant superintendent were there as well as building principals and representatives from HeadStart.  The superintendent reviewed the goals of the district and the part that early childhood plays and we did group work to reflect on our experience this year in literacy.  The last 45 minutes was spent with each teacher coming forward and sharing specific success stories.  Not one of us chose our shining star students to focus on and every story spoke to new learning on the part of the teacher as well as dedication to and love of teaching.

Sometimes I do feel elf-like as a teacher – magic happens.  But more often than not, I’m just a scout out on the trail, looking for a path through the woods.


One response to “twist me and turn me… (the other half of the Marco post)

  1. trout says:

    Hi Sunflower,

    Think of you and how proud you must be to have accomplished so much this year!

    Looking forward to seeing you, talking, knitting, and walking on the beach.


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