I’m back and ready to write!

So, I haven’t written here in awhile (read: a few years…).

But!

I’ve been writing not-on-here.  So that’s something, right?  In fact, my summer started off with a 2-week practicum for Grad School.  All I did was write.  Okay… I taught, too.  But mostly, I wrote heavily researched lesson plans in order to tutor a 12th grader.

I know.  Let that sink in for a moment.  I tutored a 12th grader.

It was not as scary as I had imagined.  In fact, (don’t tell any 12th graders out there) it was pretty much exactly like working with Kindergartners.  What did I learn?  Teaching is teaching, no matter the age of your student.

I said all of that to tell you that I got into the routine of writing my lesson plans each morning and finishing them up post-tutoring session each afternoon.  I had this nice little writing flow going.  I didn’t want to give that up and I realized I had a lot of stuff (thoughts? writing?) in my brain that needed to get out.  And, I also had a lot of time.  Summer break, ya know?

So, I ended up buying Kate Messner’s book, 59 Reasons to Write.  Because I just didn’t want to stop writing. Prior to this book purchase, I signed up for the Online Writing Camp she and a bunch of other writers and authors hosted this summer.  Alas, this virtual camp just happened to fall upon the two weeks that I was lesson-plan-research-writing, so… I didn’t really participate.

Now that I’ve been out of practicum for two weeks, I’ve got a nice new routine.  I read and write a lot.  With the revitalization of my writer’s soul, I’m taking the opportunity to revitalize my blog as well.  Previously, I had been solely writing about school.  But, you know what?  There’s much more to me and my life than my profession.

I run.  (and guess what, I wrote about that one morning!)

I play hockey.

I write.

I am a friend, a daughter, an observer, an empathize-r, a reader, and a baker.

So, what I really want to let you know is that I’m back!  And, I will still (sometimes) write about school things, because, let’s face it, I’m pretty passionate about teaching, among everything else.  But, I will also write about life things.  Because those things are important, too.

TGIF! (one day late)

Day 5 (oops)- Post a picture of your classroom…describe what you see and what you don’t see that you’d like to.
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My classroom is new to me this year and I absolutely love it! It beats my small concrete box from the past two years in every way. I finally have a place for everything and can already feel the ease of the organization I worked so hard on in my set up. Creating many different “student work spaces” was a must-do for me. I have three different areas of floor space in the room, as well as many tables so students can choose at different times of the day where they can focus and get their work done the best.

Day 6: What does a good mentor “do”?
Good mentors listen to your questions, triumphs, and failures. They find the answers to questions they aren’t quite sure about and they celebrate the triumphs and failures right there with you. Just like a good leader, good mentors teach by example. Never once did my wonderful mentor say something to me like, “you need to do it this way.” She gave me the confidence to try what I thought might work, and then try something again when it didn’t quite work out how I planned. I still learn a lot from her to this day just by watching her with her students.

My mentor also became a good friend, cheerleader, and confidant. Even though her year of mentoring me is well over, she still checks in with me to see how I’m doing and will always shoot me a text if she senses something isn’t quite right. Through her actions, she shows me that she genuinely cares about me personally and professionally.

Mentors are such important people in the world of teaching. Sometimes you get lucky and end up with an amazing “assigned” mentor, just like I did.

Observations!?

Day 3: Discuss one observation area you’d like to improve on for your teacher eval

UGH. I see that word and I immediately begin to feel anxious. It has taken me a little longer to get motivated to write today…partially because of the topic and partially because this first week is KILLER.

I’d like to improve my data collection/evidence portion of my teacher evaluation this year. It’s the thing I enjoy the least because, while it is so helpful to have good data, it’s also so difficult to remember to continuously collect it. I get so caught up in the here and now of lessons and students that I forget to write down the important things I’m hearing and seeing. Luckily, I’ve got a pretty young brain that remembers some things after the fact, but documentation is so necessary these days, so I must get better at it.

If anyone has resources and/or tips they use to keep themselves organized when it comes to data and documentation, please send them my way!

Integration of Technology

Teach Thought’s prompt for today is: Write about a piece of tech you’d like to try this year and why…you might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

None of the above is what has been whizzing through my mind this evening as I decompressed from our first day of school. Luckily, this prompt is something that is on my mind a lot, so I do have some ideas to share- as fried as my brain is right now.

Last school year, my kiddos were my guinea pigs in blogging. I used kidblog.org to set up a class and individual blogs within our class. I think I learned just as much as the students did through this experience. The biggest thing I am doing differently this year is teaching students to take pictures of their work to post to their blogs. That is what I’d like to try. Writing on the blogs was great and we learned a lot through that last year, but it was very time consuming. I believe blogging is important and I love the idea of the students having an outlet to share their ideas with the world, but I’d like to tailor it this year and make it quicker and simpler.

I hope that by allowing students to take pictures of their work or something they deem important in their world, I will be giving the students who struggle in written communication better access to this activity. Their blogs will also be easier to access by parents and family members who do not speak English, which is a large part of our school community.

This will not begin for a little while, since today was the first day. Before we learn about blogging, we need to learn how to work and learn in a community. That’s what we’re spending our first few weeks on. I think we will start blogging in November. If you’re interested in learning more about the blogging process I went through last year, you can read my posts from October and November. You can also sign in as a guest on our class blog if you’re interested in exploring.

Go to: http://www.kidblog.org/msorwigsclass then, click “login” at the top right, choose guest from the drop down menu and type in the password 12345. Enjoy!

Reflective Teaching

As the school year begins on Tuesday, I will be participating in Teach Thought’s Reflective Teaching 30-Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers. So, look for my posts in response to the challenge’s prompts and questions all throughout September! Here is the link to the challenge if you are interested:

In other news, this week was teacher week at my school. Lots of professional development, a little time to work in the classroom, and lots of new formats and documents to fill out. Also- lots of new teachers! One of our new first year teachers is across the hall from me this year. I have been teaching for three years and know I have so much left to learn, but I feel like a seasoned vet when I talk to her.

I was lucky enough to move my classroom this year and I could now do a running back handspring (if I was able to do something like that) right down the middle of my new room. It is huge! With such a large room came an overload of materials, which I was so glad to sort through and share with the newbie across the hall. It felt great to be the one with all of the “stuff”. I made many trips to her classroom with the same question. “Do you have ______? Do you want them?” Each time she was so quick to graciously accept the things I didn’t want or need. I felt like Santa Claus.

This week has been full of ups and downs, but the fact that I was able to save this new teacher some money and put a smile on her face multiple times was absolutely a highlight that outshines the “downs”.

Tomorrow is our Open House. Students will finally be in the school to meet their new teacher and see their new classroom. I am so happy about this! Our hallways and classrooms will finally be complete with sun-tinged, smiling faces and tiny chatter.

Day 1: My Goals

My three goals for this school year are:

1. Foster a genuine love of learning within each of my students
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2. Participate in Professional Development within my school district and beyond

3. Create trusting relationships with my students and colleagues & have FUN!

That’s all for today…tomorrow is the first day of school and I know it’ll be exhausting, but I’ll be back with another post after all of the excitement of the day!