Saturday, October 29, 2016

Susie Charles

My best teaching day ever was last winter, during one of the worst winter storms of the year. Before our school was closed early at noon, we decided to investigate how to build structurally sound snow forts. Students researched, designed and then headed outside to build. Students also built obstacle courses for the younger kids. BEST DAY EVER.

Growth Mindset and Relationships

I think it is pretty difficult to choose one day that was the best ever so I am just going to focus on a  specific moment that happened this year. One of the behaviour students in my class this year, who has a reputation for refusing to complete work and a defiant attitude, showed a great growth mindset during our reading response writing. I had told the students that they should be able to write a full page in their response books. This student came to me with about half a page written. I told him if he thought he had included enough to meet the rubric he could be finished as he had worked hard. He told me that I had told them they should be able to write a full page so that was what he wanted to do. This meant a lot to me as it made me feel like I was developing a good rapport with this student as well as that he was working on changing his mindset, which set the tone for the rest of the school year. We’ve had our moments still, but I believe that we will have a successful year together.

Andrea Kerr

My best teaching day was a day of making art outside - "plein air".  I visited two outdoor classrooms - one at the Rose Garden and one under the tree outside their school.  It was a gorgeous day and so wonderful to see both students and teachers deeply engaged in the creative process with professional artists.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Danielle Ganley
Mama said there would be days like this....

I may have serendipitously stumbled upon one of the best days of my teaching career three years ago. Not a lights turn green as you roll up to the intersection-coffee is fresh and warm-first parking spot available-kind of good day, but rather one that is nothing short of transformative and magical.  A day that may come so rarely and one that needs to be reflected upon in order to see its true value.  I do fear that even upon reflection, some of that magic will be missed, a comment not heard, a line of poetry unsaid, a student's thoughts not fully captured.  But even with those fears facing me,  I still feel a call to ruminate and reflect on the magic and mystery of it all.  

The day began with a simple email from a student. She asked if I might consider showing a slam poem video on YouTube. The student covered all her bases by suggesting that we could review technique and also explore the classes view on the poet.  The title of the piece was I love learning but hate education.  This was the intro to our poetry unit and the day that will be stamped on my teaching passport forever.  There was something housed in that request, in that video, in that room and in the darkness that spun magic.  Students connected with that video, the message and the medium.  We talked for 80 minutes.  We laughed.  We cried.  Okay, I cried. Just me. But there were tears.  We talked about what we love about learning and what we hate about school.  We connected.  I can close my eyes right now and immediately see the young man who pulled me aside at the end of class and told me he wanted to be a poet.  He said he didn’t know it was a job.  Until this day.  I see the angry girl who never handed a thing in, who never spoke to me, who never showed up…. I saw her hang by the door and shove something in my hands.  Her book of poetry.  She placed her ideas and dreams in my hands with explicit directions to NOT SHOW ANYONE and give it back by noon.  

See? Stuff of dreams.   My kids were connecting and building and dreaming over poetry. The poetry had brought them comfort and connection.  Poetry has always brought me that and we were sharing in the love of words together. Finally, I shared something with my students.  I have always cherished a line of poetry that has brought me great solace over the years. David Whyte's poem entitled "sweet darkness"  has a line that resonates with me,

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

Ever so often a moment becomes magical, transformative and reminds you why you were meant to be on the earth. This day reminds that poetry can bring you alive and can be overwhelming large and welcoming.  

Martha Miller

Teaching Technology for adults and children
My best teaching day was … a collection of moments I think. I’ve had a number of times when I’ve suddenly looked around my room and realize that good things were happening. One where it was silent - the students were so involved in what they were doing that all conversation stopped and all you could hear was typing and breathing. That silence didn’t last long as it was broken by sounds of successes and sounds of frustrations, but to have all 20+ students so absorbed was pretty cool. Another moment that comes to me was in audio terms quite the opposite, a room full of the sounds of engagement! Students excited about what they were doing, sharing their ideas, their successes and their frustrations - the sounds of students sharing positive energy to pull everyone forward.

Isabelle Moore: A Moment of Success

I teach French in a boys school. Sometimes this can be a very daunting job. My best teaching day was  in my first year of teaching when one of my boys who struggled historically in French took a risk to participate. The look on his face when he realized that he was capable of communicating in this language, that until then seemed totally inaccessible to him, was priceless. Every so often it happens again, but nothing has been quite as joyful as that first moment of clarity and success.

Light, Ray, Blaze, Gradient, ...Sue Dunlop

It’s been some time since I was in a classroom, so I will talk about a great moment that can happen anytime.  

When you’re working with a learner and the light dawns on their face, and they say, “ohhhh.”

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cynthia Nixon: Amazing Number Play

One of my most memorable teaching moments was in a 3rd grade class teaching math.  Really...math?  Yes!  I love math and I love those moments where my students catch the spark and learn to love number play.  We were discussing large number subtraction where there are 0s in the top number.  Throws kids off - every time!  It is tough for them.  I had a student come up with a strategy that amazed me - and I’ve used it ever since!  Think about a problem like 2001 -  326.  Students need some more ones to subtract from since 6 is larger than 1.  Most think - “There are no tens in 2001.”  This student thought - “I need a ten.  There are no tens in the tens place, but I have 200 tens in this number.  I’m going to take one of them away so now I have 199 tens left and I now have 11 ones to subtract the 6 from.”  I stopped the whole class and we talked about the strategy and why it works.  It was an incredible conversation!

Expanding Their Horizons: My Wilson Girls

Mickey Sullivan

It is difficult to select just one best day of teaching.  Most of the time, these experiences happen in the classroom, but sometimes the most rewarding ones fall outside of the school day, for example, running into a former student . . . However, a very memorable experience for me was taking three of my Wilson girls to a girls science event at USD one weekend several years back.  It was St. Patrick's day, knowing they may have nothing green to wear, I gave theme each a sparkly broach.  I also wanted to start the day off right, and took them all to breakfast at Coco's, which they had never even heard of before . . . during the event, we were separated, and I did not get to observe the marvelous experiences they were involved in.  At the end of the day, on the drive home they shared stories of conducting forensics experiments, and meeting other girls in science from all over!  The next week they generated hand written thank you notes to me . . . and I have since seen a few of these girls, and they are very fond of these memories.  I love that I was able to get them involved in something so memorable and relevant.  I only wish I could have taken more girls to this awesome event!  Here is a link to the Expand Your Horizons page, very much worth the effort.  Get your girls there! And, more importantly, expose your students to science!

Brandon Maze: A painfully great Townhall Meeting

It is hard to choose, so I will stick to my best day so far this year. I teach 11th grade History at San Marcos High School (both AP and CP). We were focusing on the build up to the Revolutionary War in my AP class and I had the students choose an historical figure from the time. Some of the choices were from the Colonies, a couple from Britain, and one or two from France, some of them were Patriots, others Loyalists. On Friday, after having done their research and made some inferences, they role played a town hall meeting discussing whether the colonies could/should declare independence and why. The discussion was absolutely great. It was my favorite day, though, because the students were also absolutely hilarious; my face literally hurt as the bell rang.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tina Roy Best Day Ever

I am a sixth grade math teacher who has been trying to teach my students how to be real world problem solvers.  What I have been doing is having them look at an exemplar problem.  I had students examine their work against the exemplar.  They first made a list in their notebook of how their work was different from the exemplar.  Then they did a pair share, then a group discussion and finally a large group discussion.  Students created a list of strategies for solving problems.  I tried to embed the work in how they approach writing to make that connection.  This group discussion is the beginning of a year long growth process.  

Celebration of Learning

 4 Had meaning.JPG

One of my favorite teaching days was the culmination of a project-based learning unit. Students had studied an element of local history and their goal was to simply share their learning with the community.  Students had the opportunity to view student-created exhibits, websites, performances.  Students also participated in a student  film festival.  Members of the community were invited to give students feedback on their work.  It was an awesome celebration of their learning.

Alex Schwartz

One of my favorite teaching moments is from 2011 in Namibia, Africa.  I taught English to secondary learners who were used to traditional rote methods (vocabulary regurgitation, copying down sentence’s, etc.)  of learning the language.  Instead of using these methods, I redesigned a unit that centered their learning around designing a new national park for the wildlife in their area.  They were required to use english vocabulary and other ESL staples in an advertisement to attract tourists, the signposts throughout the park, etc.  DSC00976.JPG
Throughout the project they were overjoyed at the idea that they were able to work in groups, draw their parks, and contemplate creative and attractive English sentences.  As I watched them, I realized how important it was to make learning authentic to students.  This deeply shaped my pedagogy and educational experience.

Mi mejor Dia

Michelle Traub

¿Mi mejor dia?

My best teaching day ever? I have been teaching for six years and I still don’t think I could I pick a favorite day. My favorite teaching day is a cumulation of all of the little moments. The moment when a child who has had a tough time raises his hand and answers a question correctly, smiling proudly ear to ear when he gets it right. The moment when a student hears Spanish out in the “real world” and comes bouncing into class barely able to contain herself with excitement of waiting all weekend to tell me. The moments when students say “Gracias” when they leave my classroom and really mean it. The times when I can really see the light bulb turn on or when I see a student do something really nice for someone else without looking for recognition. The many memories of students humming Spanish songs in the hallway and parents telling me that they learned a new Spanish song at the dinner table from their student. The reassuring hugs from a co-teacher after a difficult day or the understanding from students when I share that something outside of school is affecting my teaching and I may be a little off that day. There are so many moments, from so many days that make up my favorite day. I don’t think it is possible for me to pick any single one.
Jennifer Gembala
One of my favorite teaching moments was last year (and this year), when I was teaching a writing technique for my AP World History classes. I teach APWH to 9th and 10th graders, but when I teach the DBQ, I teach the technique to all of my World History classes, no matter the level. When I teach it, I emphasize the technique of “grouping docs” by using actual candy as my documents. So I pour a bunch of candy (chocolate, hard candy, chewy candy, sour, etc) in front of each group of students, and then tell them to organize the candy, title the groups of candy they’ve created, and identify why the candy group is called that. They then have to write a thesis paragraph, that responds to the question “Analyze the impact the diversity of candy offered during the 2016 Halloween season has on American health.” They love grouping, talking with each other, and eating the candy, and it just really makes me love my job on days like that :)