Well, my summer break was officially over this past week as I trudged through my mornings with my coffee in hand trying to fall back into a routine that will be a part of my daily life starting Tuesday. To those teachers and administrators that have been back for awhile, I hope all is going well. Welcome back everyone!
It has been a busy summer and one of the best I have had since going through the summer writing institute in 2010. With that being said, I went back to school Monday with an open mind and an understanding that things were going to be different again. It seems over the past 5 years that I have been teaching at the middle school level, there has been some type of change; whether it has been teaching assignments, new staff, or even new administrators. The week was interesting, but also very trying.
I applaud my principal for keeping an open mind to the use of technology in the classroom. We had a two hour segment titled 21st century learning and there were three staff members who presented, including myself. My principal wanted us to share what we were doing in our classroom to engage today’s learner. Three different digital tools were presented to the staff:
I of course being the big Celly user introduced this to my colleagues.
The middle school science teacher discussed Moodle, which I do not use and do not really care for. I find it difficult to navigate and not very user friendly for the students.
Finally, one of our high school language arts teachers showed Schoology. All 7th-11th graders will be using Schoology this year as a way to communicate, get access to assignments, and collaborate. Parents can even see what is happening in class.
One of the bigger issues at the helm was student growth. Our beloved politicians in my state want teachers to be able prove they are doing their job by displaying there was student growth. What is this supposed to look like? Well, that is superb question. One way our principal wants us to show student growth is by giving a pre and post test. In addition, we were to discuss other ways within our departments how we could potentially show student growth. The language arts department discussed writing portfolios and the possibilities digital portfolios bring. With students from grades 7-11 using Schoology, it would be easy to pass their digital portfolios from year to year. Schoology syncs well with Google Docs, so students can create folders within Google docs and put their writing samples in it. The more important question is what is the definition of student growth? If a student scores one more right on the post-test than what they did on the pre-test, is that considered student growth? What is classified as being proficient? 75%. 80%. It was a conversation that quite frankly literally gave me a headache.
I deem myself as a hard working teacher and I know my students get better by the end of the year, but what truly is an accurate way to measure student growth. I am curious if there is anyone who has suggestions.
I am blessed to have a job and I love being a teacher. I know I will have another successful year based on the mere fact I will engage my students each and every day. I want my students begging me to keep reading and writing. That is my measure for student growth.
Keep reading and spread the word. I want to write everyday during the school year. I want to use it as a reflective time to help me form my thoughts for the book I am working on.