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Straight as an Arrow – Not!

Think of an accomplishment you have experienced in your personal life—something you felt compelled to complete.  Some examples might include:  landscaping your yard, painting a room, changing careers, learning to play an instrument,  putting a swing set together…the list goes on! Now reflect on a professional accomplishment—finishing a course, earning a degree, reaching a hard-to-teach student, organizing literacy night, introducing peers to team teaching….

Consider this: Were you able to immediately accomplish the task, or did you encounter issues and obstacles along the way? Let’s think about painting a room. It sounds like a simple, straightforward plan–get the paint, move the furniture, tape the woodwork, and GO, right? Except that, somewhere along the way you forgot to pick up a paint roller, and the brush you planned to use has disappeared. So you make a trip back to the store and then begin preparing the room. Wow! That big roll of painter’s tape—well, it looked like there was plenty on the roll! But no, one more trip to the store! So now you’ve taped the woodwork, created a workspace around the room, protected the floor, set the ladder in place, stirred and poured the paint in the pan, you’re set to go. This is exciting! You like the color, you’ve got the hang of edging the ceiling, the paint is going on smoothly, then you look back and realize the darker color underneath is showing through. You sigh, wondering if it’s going to take two coats, even though the paint label and the salesperson guaranteed one coat would cover!! Well, you’ll have to see what it looks like when it’s dry. Turn the corner of the room—oops! The ladder won’t fit, you have to move some furniture, your son comes in looking for a video game somewhere under the furniture covers, there’s a substantial crack in a corner that needs several coats to look good….Eventually you succeed in painting the room, and you are happy! It has taken far longer than you expected, you’re tired, covered with paint, sore from climbing up and down a ladder, but you’re happy. You can’t wait to see it in the morning light! And then…the morning light reveals it is definitely going to need another coat. More »

A Fresh Start in a New Year: What Should Teachers Consider?

clip art pencilA new calendar year lies before us! Most schools are approximately half way through their instructional year, which makes this a perfect time to take stock of what we have accomplished to this point, and what is yet to be accomplished this year. We have worked through the fall months, when we normally see students adjust to a new setting and level of expectation, and begin to learn appropriate concepts and skills. Ahead of us are several more months when amazing growth can take place for many students. How can we be sure we approach and use that time in the most productive way possible?

We have heard it said over and over that teachers play a huge part in the learning and development of children. We must make daily decisions about students’ learning, often in split-second time! Fullan and Hargreaves (1996, p. 65) remind us, “There are always things to be done, decisions to be made, children’s  needs to be met, not just every day, but every minute, every second. This is the stuff of teaching. There is no let-up.” We know teaching is not an 8:00-4:00 job!  We come to expect the pressures of time, initiatives, and added responsibilities, and we can find ourselves on overload, seeing only what is directly in front of us. This is when a deep breath is needed—and now is the time to take it. Reflection is required to check on what we are actually doing and why (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996); this helps us see the broader picture of what we want to accomplish. More »