Open door policies lead to excitement for teachers

A few weeks ago, another teacher came in to see me lead an introductory activity so I decided to show her how to do a Chalk Talk which is one of my favourite thinking strategies. She had a lot of fun participating with the students and learning from them.

Yesterday, she tried it today with her french immersion Grade 4 students to introduce Math vocabulary.  She was so excited to share with me how greatly the students responded to the activity and she mentioned how great it was to see what they already know. The added benefit is that those students have an extra opportunity to think,work, write and respond in French in a new and engaging way for them.

I have always had an open door policy and everyone is welcome to join. It is even more exciting when a person seeks you out and asks for you to show them how to do something specific. In the grand scheme of things, a half hour for the students to take pride in their learning and share what they know is actually more beneficial to them to realize that teachers are learners, just like them.

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Pride in our learning and reflecting back

I am so proud of the things we accomplish in our class. The kids work so hard to push themselves to do great things. They see success in some many ways. I sat down with a few of my students over the last few days to see what they take pride in. There were many answers but the one thing they had in common was that they were pushed and encouraged to keep going until they were they created something they wanted to share.

We do a lot of reflections in my class but my favourites are not blog posts but the videos we film and the photos we take to document the process. I think in the “birthday party” of sharing the product, we forget about the process. The process is where all the learning is and where the cool things we do happen.

Here are a few examples of our learning being shared a long the way:
Day 135 – from PSD 70’s 184 days of learning

Day 105 – from PSD 70’s 184 days of learning and our LC 5A class blog

Tile’s Blog  and  Day 78 – from PSD 70’s 124 days of learning

It is awesome to see the work we are doing being recognized and not just the product. It wasn’t easy getting the students to a point they could recognize the importance of the learning along the way. Usually that recognition comes towards the end and they look back at their reflections. This is part of the reason it is so important to have the students reflecting as they are learning and not just at the end. This year has been about getting the students comfortable with their blogs and posting about their learning.

I started out with quite structured posts. Some of my students still need a lot of support to guide their reflections through sub-topics or questions, while others can write fluidly once given the topic. A few just write what they want to write. It is great to see that we are all at different spots in our journey but the students enjoy having a chance to blog and look back at their learning. I have been trying to tie it into their reading groups and various activities that we do. Each week we write a “This Week At School” post to look back at what we have done. I’d like to get to the point students see blogging as the next step in any task they are working on as it lets them explain their learning in a different way and it helps in the assessment because I start to see why they do the things they do. I read all their posts, even their incomplete drafts.

I am excited to watch the students grow through their use of their blogs and hope that they see the same value I have in my blog. Looking back at where I was at the beginning of the year to now, it is something I find valuable to my development as a professional. My hope is that when they look back next year on what we did this year, they will feel that same pride.