Monthly Archives: October 2014

Future Trends in Education

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John Dewy hit the nail on the head when he said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” The world is a vast and dynamic place, fluidly changing with each new invention and innovation. According to the United States Department of Labor, 65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet. Teachers need to be a few steps ahead in order to prepare students for this world. Teaching our students the same way as we were taught would truly be doing them a disservice and not preparing them to be successful adults in the 21st century. This is a continual debate among older teachers that believe the way they have been doing things for the past 30 years is just fine. There are also many young and enthusiastic teachers coming into the profession every year that are much more willing to learn new technologies. Many of these teachers have never lived in a world without the World Wide Web, so of course they are going to be more comfortable with technology.

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When it comes to technology in education, things are always changing. However, it is interesting to see how quickly the “next best thing” becomes superfluous when something bigger and better comes along. An example of this phenomenon, mostly unrelated to education, can be best seen in cellular devices. The iPhone 5C is released and everyone runs out and sells their iPhone 5 to get the newest version. Even people that try to stick it out and keep their older versions are soon forced to cave in when the majority of the software and apps no longer work on their “outdated” technology. I think an important thing to remember though, is that technology was at one time cutting edge.

Smart Board

It is important to reflect upon where we’ve been in order to really know where we are going. I don’t think that George Baron, the first person to introduce the chalkboard into the classroom in 1801, could have possibly imagined the SMART board technology we currently have in our classrooms. Sequentially, the whiteboard/ dry erase board came about in the 1950s and was not introduced to classrooms until the 1990s when health concerns were brought up by all the chalk dust in the air. In 2008 Idea Paint, a clear paint that can be put on any hard surface and will turn that surface into a whiteboard, was released. It isn’t being used in schools yet, but it could be the next big trend in education. The only reason I mention the progression of chalkboards is because at one time, the biggest new trend was the SMART Board, followed by the Promethean Board and Mimio. In my first year of teaching, four teachers in our building were piloting SMART Boards and it was a very big deal. The next year I was at a different school that had just gotten up and running and they hadn’t even considered purchasing SMART Boards because they were outdated. This difference blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that what was cutting edge one year, was outdated the next year. My school was looking into future trends in interactive whiteboard technology that were less expensive and more sustainable.

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There are a wide variety of interactive whiteboards available and they are not new technology. However, the kinds of interactive whiteboards that are being invented are trending in educational technology. The option that my new school chose is a software called Doceri. In addition to being an interactive whiteboard, this program is a screencasting tool invented specifically for teachers. The equipment needed includes an iPad, a projector, either Apple TV or a desktop computer, and a plain white surface such as a screen or a wall (I use my dry erase board.) The surface itself is not touch sensitive like it is on a SMART Board. Instead, the iPad becomes a remote. Whatever you do on the iPad is mirrored on the screen.

This has a lot of impact on teaching and learning. Teachers can quickly and easily pull up maps and photographs and write right on the images. This is a great tool for visual learners. The presentations can be saved for later and even posted online for students to reference later. It could help them while they are working on their homework. Doceri also lends itself to Flipping classrooms. Flipped classrooms are a current popular trend in education where students watch the lessons online at home instead of traditional homework and then they do the practice in class with the teacher.

I think that the most important aspect of Doceri is how many benefits it has for the teacher. From a classroom management standpoint, while using Doceri the teacher can be writing on the board while simultaneously walking around the classroom. We are no longer chained to the front of the room, hoping our kids aren’t doing anything crazy while our backs are turned and we’re writing. This writing can be done on the spot or in advance and can be saved for next year. Of course we always have to adjust our instruction for each specific group of kids and to incorporate new technologies, but having a baseline of electronic lessons already created would be very helpful.

Have you ever wanted to see the inside of a human heart without all the trouble of going to med school? How about handle all of the elements on the periodic table, including the dangerous ones without any risk at all? Or would you like to examine all the moving parts on the Mars Curiosity Rover without going to Mars? Augmented reality allows all of these to be possible along with many more possibilities.

It its simplest form, augmented reality is the first down line in a football broadcast. Augmented Reality is a modified vision of reality. Technology enhances our perception of reality in real time by giving us the ability to manipulate the real world. The information that has been figuratively everywhere since the World Wide Web came about can now literally be everywhere: on my kids’ homework, floating above their heads, or in the hallways of the school.

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Using devices like iPads we can bring two-dimensional images to life. Reports and surveys predict that basic augmented reality will be prevalent in education within the next year. There are already a plethora of apps available for basic to advanced augmented reality in the classroom. There are plenty of options for specific content areas, like reading. There is an app that uses augment reality characters to encourage students to learn their letters. There is another that lets students explore the human body. Spacecraft 3-D gives them the opportunity to explore multiple different NASA spacecraft, and seeing these spacecraft not just in a picture, but actually sitting on their desks is quite a thrill for the students. Having students color a picture and then bringing that picture to life in three-dimensional animation is the function of another equally awesome AR app.

Geotagging is another excellent AR application. It uses GPS coordinates and associates content, like videos or text, to a specific location. So as you walk through a designated place holding up your device, you will see text and resources floating in the air waiting to be explored. I could have students create a walking tour of our school that has no actual tour guide. This kind of technology has the power to engage students better than ever before and provides students with the ability to learn in their own unique way, not necessarily linearly.

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All of these individual apps are great for the classroom, however, they are noting compared to the possibilities of programs like Aurasma. This app allows you to place an “aura” around anything. This means if students scan their homework with their device, a video will pop up of me reminding them how to do the work and giving tips and tricks. I can also create an aura of the answers on a homework assignment so that students can do the work and then check it themselves. This makes student work super personalized and work at their own pace. If they need the directions again, they can just scan over that aura once more. It allows even struggling students some independence in their learning.

There are a few road blocks that would make this technology difficult to use in the classroom. The first one, like many other technologies, is having the devices. If this is to be a truly personalized and independent learning experience, there needs to be enough devices to support that. Also, the homework help, which is great, requires devices at home as well. The second hurdle that needs to be overcome is teaching the teachers to use this kind of technology. It does take a while to figure out and it requires some time to put together the lessons initially, but once they spend some time with it and put some lessons together it is going to make everything much easier and better for the students as well.

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Google Glass is a piece of technology that everyone is excitedly awaiting. I am excited to see what it can do in the classroom. Google Glass is essentially a personal computer. It’s a headset with a small screen right above your line of vision. It allows you to interact with the device hands free in a natural speaking voice. The possibilities with this tool are literally limitless. Students can be videotaping their teacher during the lesson and then watch it immediately. They can create photo and video projects hands free. They can be searching the Internet in the middle of a project. It can help English language learners by translating for them. Google Glass can also work with augmented reality.

There are also tons of applications for teachers to use. Facial recognition will help teachers identify their students at the beginning of the school year. A student could wear the Google Glass while the principal evaluates the teacher without being in the room and changing the dynamics with their presence. Teachers could document and re-use lessons as sharable records. It can also be used for one on one tutoring sessions while not in the same room using tools like Google hangout.

Google Glass really is a game-changing piece of technology. It could alter everything about how we teach. It is not available to the general public yet, so I think it is a long way off to get it into schools, but that is definitely a day I look forward to.

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I really enjoy reading dystopian fiction novels because they are usually set in the future and we get to see what the author thinks the word of the future is going to look like. In Marie Lu’s novel Champion she describes something very similar to Google Glass being used throughout an entire city. Here is a small piece of that description from the point of view of an outsider, June, who is new to the city:

“Keep these {glasses} on for the duration of your visit. They will help you see Ross City as it really is.” When I look around the lobby I notice all sorts of virtual numbers and words- the green plant in the corner has WATER +1 hovering over it, while CLEAN +1 floats above a side table. In the corner of my glasses, I see tiny, glowing words: June Iparis, Level 1, Sept. 22, 2123, Daily Score: 0, Cumulative score: 0.

As I pass someone I bow my head respectfully. To my surprise, I see the numbers in the corner of my glasses change. Daily Score: 1, Cumulative score: 1. My mind spins. Somehow, the glasses must have recorded my bowing action and added a point to this Antarctican scoring system, which means bowing is equal to one point. This is also when I realize something else: when the white-haired man spoke, I heard absolutely no accent- he’s speaking perfect English… maybe it’s acting as some sort of language translation device, allowing the Antarcticans to revert to their native language while still communicating with us without missing a beat.

The white haired man spoke, “Life in Ross City is a game, and we are all its players. Native Antarcticans have chips embedded near our temples once we turn thirteen. Almost every positive action you make in Ross City will earn you achievement points, while negative actions subtract points. As you accumulate points, you gain levels… Your level is everything in Ross City. This higher your level, the more money you make, the better jobs you can apply for, and the more respected you are. Our citizens are so engrossed in this game of life that most of them know better than to do things that will decrease their scores. We have very little crime in Ross City as a result.”

I wander the halls with my virtual glasses tucked into my pocket, relieved to see the world as it really is again without the onslaught of hovering numbers and words. I peer inside a room. It looks whitewashed. I put my virtual glasses on. The room now looks bright and full of colors, and the glass walls have all sorts of moving displays on them.

I find this passage fascinating from a technology standpoint and also from a behavioral conditioning standpoint. I like to wonder what schools would be like with this kind of system in place. There are technologies already available, not augmented reality, that do something similar. One of these is an app called Class Dojo that allows the teacher to give and take points from students for specific positive and negative behaviors.

One technology trend in education that has been getting a lot of push back is games. People say they can’t possibly be learning while playing a video game. These accusatory people don’t have all the facts before they make their argument. I think there is a fine line when using games in education as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Having kids sitting in front of a video screen all day, every day is not okay. However, there are skills in games that are really beneficial for students. We always need to be fostering students’ critical thinking skills and problem solving skills and games of any kind are a great way to do that. Also, the process students go through when playing video games looks a lot like what I think school should be about. Kids try to beat a difficult level but they fail. Then they immediately get to try again from the same spot where they left off, using what they learned from the last time to do a better job this time. That sounds like ideal education to me.

Of course there are actual games that are designed to explicitly teach our students. This kind of instruction is fun and motivating. Students will like playing games more than learning most any day. It is also self-paced. Students will play through levels of an educational game at the speed that is just right for them. It also can give them instant feedback, which is great for self-monitoring of learning.

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As a teacher, I love using games in my teaching. The main reason for this is that they are so engaging. Students love to play and I can see them learning through it, even if they don’t recognize it themselves. I have been trying to incorporate more games in my math class that aren’t specific to whatever content we are learning, but more to critical thinking and problem solving. One of these is creating a Lego marble maze. Students are given a bucket of Legos and a marble and are challenged with creating a maze for the marble to go through that is not easy to solve. I am amazed at the mazes my students come up with. Some of them cover the top so you can’t see inside. Others will put in traps where the marble gets stuck or falls out. These mazes far exceeded my expectations and I am so glad that I gave my students the opportunity to think critically.

This particular trend is incorporating into schools a bit differently than the others I have discussed because it does not necessarily need lots of technology devices or money to start off. There are lots of fantastic apps and websites with educational games available, but things like board games, card games, and Lego games I consider to be part of this new technology as well.

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Personal Learning Environments are another new up and coming technology. These are systems that allow learners to really take control of their own learning. A lot of web 2.0 tools are involved in this trend. Some of these include blogs, wikis, podcasts, Google Apps, and many others. The learning becomes specific to each student’s needs and interests. The environment is a conglomeration of lots of pieces that a student is in control of. One program that is somewhat of a game and is a large contributor to personal learning environments is Moby Max. This is a website that is free. After a teacher sets up an account and inputs all their students, each student takes a diagnostic placement test that assigns them an estimated grade level that they are working at in that subject. It has math, reading, and writing subject matter. Then, the teacher can choose specific lessons for that student to complete. The lessons are aligned with common core standards. So this is a completely independent, self-paced, and differentiated curriculum to supplement students’ learning. After the students complete so many minutes of lessons, it unlocks a few minutes of game play. And these are fun, educational games within the website.

The swing of the educational pendulum lately has been for teachers to be more like facilitators and less like lecturers. There will be difficulty incorporating personal learning environments into classrooms because teachers, especially older veteran teachers, have trouble relinquishing control of their classrooms to their students. They are still of the mindset that teachers stand in front of the room and talk at the students.

All in all, I am very excited to be a part of moving schools into the 21st century and beyond. I think that Interactive Whiteboards, Augmented Reality, Google Glass, Gamification, and Personal Learning Environments are just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for classrooms and what kinds of cool gadgets people come up with that will allow me to better teach my students to be great thinkers. I hope to inspire my third grade students with technology we use in the classroom every day so that one of them may grow up to invent the next big technology trend.

References
Briggs, S. (2013, July 16). 10 emerging educational technologies. Retrieved

December 9, 2013, from informED website: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-ten-emerging- technologies-in-education-and-how-they-are-being-used-across-the-globe/

Dwyer, D. (1994). Apple classrooms of tomorrow. Realizing the Promise of Technology, 51(7). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational- leadership/apr94/vol51/num07/Apple-Classrooms-of-Tomorrow@-What- We’ve-Learned.aspx

Gamification.org (Ed.). (n.d.). Gamification education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Gamification Wiki website: http://gamification.org/education

Hamilton, K. (2010, May 28). Augmented reality in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from SlideShare website: http://www.slideshare.net/kehamilt/augmented-reality-in-education

Heick, T. (2012, August 25). 6 characteristics of tomorrow’s classroom technology. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from TeachThought website: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/6-characteristics-of-tomorrows- classroom-technology/

Kelly, S. M. (2013, August 19). How Google Glass might be used in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Mashable website: http://mashable.com/2013/08/19/google-glass-education/

Lu, M. (2013). A Legend Novel: Champion. New York, NY: Putnam.
New Media Consortium (Ed.). (2011). 6 emerging technologies in education.

Retrieved December 9, 2013, from Copy/Paste website: http://www.peterpappas.com/2012/02/infographic-six-emerging- educational-technologies.html/six-emerging-technologies-in-education

Powers, M. (2013, November 6). Seeing the classroom through Google Glass. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from 365daysofglass.com website: https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-11-26-seeing-the-classroom-through- google-glass

Schaaf, R. (2013, October 15). How to use augmented reality in education. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from 21st Century Fluency Project website: http://fluency21.com/blog/2013/10/15/how-to-use-augmented-reality-in- education/

Smith, H. J. (2005). Interactive whiteboards: Boon or bandwagon? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 91-101. Retrieved from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/spechtp/551/IWB_Boon_Bandwagon.pdf

Walsh, K. (2013, May 5). Moby Max is a proven adaptive learning toolset with differentiated curriculum for K-8 students. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from EmergingEdTech website: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/05/moby-max-is-a-proven- adaptive-learning-toolset-with-differentiated-curriculum-for-k-8-students/

My Technology Philosophy of Education

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I went into teaching to make a difference in students’ lives. There are a lot of ways I try to accomplish this, the main one being technology. Technology is giving them life skills that they need. Teaching with technology is necessary for students to become successful, functioning adults in today’s world. Helping other teachers by being a technology leader in my school is something I am very passionate about. My goal in teaching is that in 15 or 20 years I will have former students come back to visit me and tell me that I had a positive impact on their lives. That is what I focus on every day as I teach.

The way I see it, I am not just teaching my students about Ancient Rome, Astronomy, and how to do multiplication. I teach life skills. These are skills they need to be successful adults in our society. I am well aware that all the teachers around the world, myself included, are creating and fostering the next generation of world leaders. Even if I am having a bad day, or one of my students is having a bad day, I just think about the greatness they can become if I continue to push them. So while I am teaching them the difference between similes an metaphors, I am really teaching them social skills, how to focus and concentrate, how to think critically, how to be imaginative, how to love reading and learning, how to have self discipline, and how to be responsible.

In addition to life skills, I am teaching my kids technology. I am an instigator of technology change in my school building. I am passionate that we need technology in student hands at every opportunity. This is a growing and learning experience not only for the students, but more so for the teachers. It is no longer acceptable, in my opinion, for a teacher to say, “I’m not good with technology. I can do the same thing with pencil and paper.” These kind of teachers are doing a severe disservice to the students in their classes. They are depriving their kids of opportunities to critically think and problem solve, to have a say in what they learn about, and to glean knowledge of technology tools that they will need to be proficient with in order to be a functioning member of society when they grown up.

In addition to being passionate about teaching with technology and having technology in student hands, I am also passionate about being a technology leader in my school. I sit on the technology sub-committee of the school board. We discuss how technology fits into the big picture of our school. We have also discussed what technology will look like at the high school we are currently building. In a few years we will be filled out as a K-12 charter school. I also lead the teacher technology team at my school and I have hosted multiple technology professional development sessions so that I may be a resource for those teachers. One such workshop I did was how to use Edmodo. I showed teachers how I was using the app to allow my students to have discussions about a specific topic in my classroom and also give quizzes online. Then I helped the teachers get started using Edmodo in their own classrooms.

In many teaching job interviews, administrators ask how we as teachers will address the issue of diversity in our classrooms. To this I reply that diversity does not only have to do with your skin tone and your culture. Every single student is diverse. In any given lesson I might be differentiating my instruction 25 different ways to meet my students’ needs. Every student learns differently and that is what makes teaching a real challenge. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences really comes into play here. Some kids learn visually and because of that always write directions on the board and I have a bulletin board for every subject area where I post pictures, words, definitions, and charts. Some kids learn verbally, so I am always repeat directions multiple times as well as read aloud scientific content for them to listen to. Some kids learn kinesthetically, and for those students I plan lessons where we are up and moving and re-creating astronomy concepts like revolution and rotation. Each child that comes through my classroom brings with them a completely different set of personal experiences, beliefs, and attitudes towards school that I have to learn and be able to work with. I try very hard to get to know my students so that I am able to teach them how they need to be taught in order for them to be successful. The use of technology makes this process simpler for us as the teacher. There are so many wonderful tools available and more are being created every day. I use the website Moby Max on iPads in my math class. It gives the students a placement test to see where their gaps are and then assigns them lessons to fill in those gaps. Also, for every minute spent learning students earn time to play educational games on the site. They have incorporate differentiation into math and tied in simple extrinsic motivators. Not all of my students enjoy learning in this way, and they all don’t have to use Moby Max, but it is a choice of theirs and it’s one way I cater to my students specific needs.

My teaching beliefs and philosophies come out in every aspect of my teaching. My passion for technology would be evident to anyone who spent 5 minutes in my classroom. The technology motivates my students and it’s teaching them at the same time. You would not believe how fast my students get through their math work in order to play Simple, Physics, an educational game on the iPads. Like the title implies, the game uses basic physics principles and has the students build various objects like a tree house, a river dam, and even a submarine, while still maintaining a building budget and assuring their structures were safe.

I work very hard throughout the school year to create a comfortable and safe classroom climate. As a teacher, I need to know about students’ backgrounds and personal beliefs before I can teach and differentiate for them effectively. Students need to feel comfortable in school before they will show this side of themselves and, to quote Ms. Frizzle, take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. My students and I have a lot of discussion in class about respect and what it means to respect their technology, their teachers, their classmates, and themselves. Here, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs becomes evident. Working at an upper-middle class school I don’t often have issues with students whose physiological or safety needs are not being met. However, with some of my students I do struggle with helping them in belongingness and making friends. This is where my comfortable class climate becomes so crucial. If this step isn’t in place there is no way I am going to be able to build my students’ self esteem enough to get to the creativity and problem solving they reach in the top self- actualization step of Maslow’s pyramid.

I firmly believe that teachers need to be life long learners. I love to learn new things and I am always on a path to gain new knowledge about teaching and about any topic that interests me. A lot of times those topics are technology related because technology is such a prevalent part of our society and our education system right now. All of my free time is spent reading professional texts to make myself a better teacher, non-fiction texts about topics I am interested in, and reading just for fun to expand my imagination. I model my love of reading, learning, and technology for my students every day. I am always looking for new professional development opportunities, whether that is conferences to attend, weekend classes, or this instructional technology masters program. Also, I am always asking for help. I truly believe that two heads are better than one. The four teachers on my grade level team can come up with better lessons and ideas than I could by myself. I also collaborate closely with a fourth grade teacher at my school on technology matters. He and I are currently working to get an iPad pilot at our school so we could have 1:1 iPads in our two classrooms. Our intent behind this is to be able to show other teachers, especially other teachers at our school, what can be done with iPads in the classroom.

Technology has always been a topic of interest for me. I have always been intrigued by the new developments the field has made and how I could implement those ideas into my classroom. At the school I currently work at, we have a full time technology director and I have really enjoyed getting to work with her and help her implement all of our technology resources throughout the school. Because I have been working so closely with our technology specialist, many other teachers now come to me with technology questions they have. I really enjoy getting to be a resource for those teachers. Growing my knowledge of technology will only help me be a better resource to them in the future.

My professional goal this year is to increase student engagement in my classroom, and increase my recognition of student engagement by using technology in new and innovative ways. Additionally, I want to gather information of how to think about technology in different ways and be able to share it with the other teachers at my school. One of the ways I am doing this is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The taxonomy itself is immensely helpful in creating more engaging lessons and getting my students to think deeper. However, I have also started researching the revised Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy. It is important to incorporate technology into everything we do in education and this area is not an exception. This is not only my personal teaching goal this year, it is also my administrator evaluation goal. So I will be meeting with my administration throughout the year to discuss how I am working towards this goal. My indication that I am achieving this goal is that I will receive marks from my administrator of Satisfactory or Very Good in the Student Engagement category on my evaluation rubric. I will also be sharing what I learn with my school technology team at our meetings every month.

Resources

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligence in the classroom (3rd ed.). Retrieved fromhttp://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zCdxFRFmXpQC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=multiple+intelligences&ots=g9AqeCua

Bloom’s digital taxonomy wheel. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2014, from Edutechalogy website:http://eductechalogy.org/swfapp/blooms/wheel/engage.swf

Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nOHsjJZB0J8C&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=multiple+intelligences&ots=6pRL022h1w&sig=vWImJ-i3Ud

Green, C. D. (2000, August). A theory of human motivation. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from Classics in the History of Psychology website:http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm

Maybe I really am making a difference…

Some days teaching are really hard and I have to remind myself that it’s days like this one that make me keep going. It was “dress like your favorite teacher” day at school. So here I am with some of my mini-me’s. They really do like me 😉 I was dressed like Ms. Dissette, a 2nd grade teacher at our school, and she was dressed like me, also.  collage

The 5th Year is a Charm

My first two years of teaching I consistently put in 12 hour work days just trying to keep up with the grading and planning. The third and fourth years were a bit better at school, but during that time I was working on my masters degree online, so life was just as chaotic and busy, if not more so.

The statistics that follow new teachers are absolutely mind-boggling. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, about 50% of teachers leave the profession in their first five years. HALF! That includes about 10% of teachers that leave before the end of their first year. The Huffington Post says that the top five reasons teacher turnover rates are so high include 1. Poor working conditions and few resources, 2. High pressure from standardized testing, 3. Low wages with teachers making an average of 35,000 a year, 4. Threat of layoffs since tens of thousands of teachers have lost their jobs in the last few years, and 5. Burnout from working extended hours.

I am currently in my fifth year of teaching and for the first time, I’m finishing the school day not always feeling frazzled and exhausted. I’m going home at 3:45 and not taking any work with me. I have time to *gasp* watch a tv show now and then. This newfound sense of peace might be because of my classroom is set up with no desks. It might be because of the really great group of students I have this year. It might be because I have been teaching the same curriculum for three years in a row and I finally know what I’m doing. Most likely it is a combination of all those things.

Whatever it may be, I am so thankful I stuck with it and showed diligence (which is our school character trait this month 😉 ) because I really do love what I do. No, it is not always a walk in the park. I still have a million meetings to attend, stacks of seemingly endless, and sometimes pointless, paperwork to complete and a myriad of other hoops to jump through. But through it all, I have a whole slew of amazing kiddos that I have the privilege of getting to know and getting to love on, and that makes it all worth it.

SO if you are still in your first five years of teaching, or you are just having a really rough school year, my advice to you is to stick with it. It just keeps getting better every year.

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Inconsistant Expectations

Normally, having inconsistent expectations in the classroom is a very bad thing. It gives the kids license to do whatever they want and find loopholes to get away with it. My expectations for my students are not inconsistent normally. My classroom, to the untrained eye, looks like a chaotic free-for-all, but that is far from the truth. I have so many systems and procedures in place and the kids know what to do. However, I have discovered that my expectations for my students are not consistent for every situation.

Yesterday our wonderful elementary counselor came in to teach a friendship lesson to my students. As I watched the lesson, I took a step back and put myself in the counselor’s shoes. From her perspective my kids looked super disrespectful, disengaged and even downright bored. They were using the room the way I had trained them: sitting at desks, laying on the floor, or standing. I know how each of my students learns best and I know that even if a particular kid is laying on the floor with their head down they are still listening because they are an auditory learner. But the counselor doesn’t know that.

Here my kids are reading, but this is about what they look like during a lesson as well.

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So I had a discussion with my class about how we have to behave a little differently when there is a guest teacher. I had the kids help me come up with reasons why having different expectations is important and what that looks like in my classroom. Having the students help me come up with those reasons and making it more of a discussion made them more invested in their own behavior.

Math and Language Arts Class

At the beginning of the school year I spent a week with just my homeroom class and in that week I really worked hard to set up the no desks arrangement with my students. And that hard work has paid off. My kids really have my room down. They know the routines and procedures well. Then we started switching classes for math and language arts.

My math class is comprised of mostly students from other third grade classes. My language arts class, on the other hand, is half students from other classes and half students from my homeroom. I predicted this making a difference in how I present expectations since my language arts kids that are also in my homeroom can help the other students along.

My math and language arts classes aren’t badly behaved, but they are not as good as my homeroom. I wonder if this is just the different mix of students I have, or the way I introduced the procedures. I did not have as much time to go over them as I did with my homeroom kids.

On another note, I have observed interesting differences in how the kids utilize the classroom. In my language arts class the kids sit/stand all over the room, but more than anything they love to be on the floor. There will be kids laying down lined up all the way across the carpet. My math class on the other hand, loves to stand. My standing tables are always jammed full. I will need to do some more observations and take some data to predict why this phenomena is occurring.