Saturday, November 15, 2014

Reflection: Make Magic Happen!

This morning I opened a gift from a parent that I'd failed to open for several weeks. Call it getting caught up in the whirlwind of life. However, as I read the letter, I felt terrible for waiting a single moment!

As I read, I couldn't help but feel thankful. It stated,"Please accept this book as a gift from my daughter in appreciation of the "magic" you have given her this year in the classroom. I have never seen her so happy to come to school."

Wow! What a blessing that was to me!

This led me reflect a moment on the word "magic". Why this word?

I've had a couple of articles published, but each of them focused on creating sparks in the classroom.

Check them out here.

So, why do I always gravitate to this, and why is it so often that the feedback I get from students and parents surrounds the following words-- energy, sparks, magic, inspiration?

Not sure of the answer to this, but I do know....

1. Our time with students is limited. For about nine months we're given an opportunity to make a difference, to create memories that will last a lifetime. As educators, we can never be naive to the fact that our words, actions, and deeds leave a memory footprint that lasts a lifetime. That memory can be positive or negative, it's our choice.

2. I love sparks! This comes through my own experiences with learning, and why I became a disengaged learner as a teen. I know...I hear the argument all the time that it's the duty of the child to be engaged in his or her own learning. I agree that it's a partnership. Students must bring their best, and I've always had one or two students that seem to struggle with engagement no matter what lessons I create, But, as teachers, we must also ask ourselves every day in the classroom, "Am I bringing my best? Am I stretching my teaching to reach all learners? Am I bringing a positive, uplifting attitude to my work?" I ask these questions to myself daily. I believe it's the responsibility of my practice to ask these vital questions, and be honest with myself in order to maintain those sparks.

3. Every child does matter. I know that I can't save every child, but it won't stop me from trying! Going the extra mile with tutoring, differentiation, or engaging lessons takes time, energy, and most of all determination. The daily attempts can get taxing, but I've found at those moments, I need to take a step back in ways that will keep the motivation and learning going without negating what has been built throughout the year so far, I focus strategically.

Now, on another note, I've pushed this year to create a rigorous climate, but weaved it in such a way that allows students to believe it's more play than work. I've spent time collaborating with my school's gifted teacher, as well as the media specialist to find ways to create those higher order thinking tasks for all students, not just the gifted students. This is a passion of mine. There is no teaching to the middle in my class.

This collaboration has led to more project based, student centered learning. My students produce! Many going above and beyond their traditional daily and homework assignments. The work is meaningful, engaging, and rigorous. As a result, the students are happy.

Amazingly, the year is almost half way complete! So, the goal now is to keep it up! Take vitamins, get rest, exercise, do what it takes to keep the momentum going in the classroom. Make magic happen every day!