I started my day at our junior high. I visited six teachers, and I was so amazed by the ubiquity of technology in their classrooms. Each classroom was 1:1 and the routines these teachers set in their classrooms made the use of devices seem as common as the use of paper and pencils. All the classes I visited were at some point in the writing process, which is what our students were doing in seventh grade last week. It was so refreshing to gain new perspective on how others are teaching writing. It's one thing to browse social media and the internet for bright, new ideas; it's another thing completely to be able to see it in action in a classroom.
One of my favorite things to do when I walk into a new classroom is to find the teacher's expectations. At the junior high, there was one set of expectations that I especially loved, first for its succinct nature and second for the alliteration. I can't help myself. I'm an English teacher. Her expectations were
How perfect are those?! If students live up to these expectations each day, it's going to be a great school year. What was even more awesome was seeing her students follow through on these expectations and participate productively and patiently in the lesson, even when the server was moving slowly and their devices weren't cooperating as they may have wanted. In another classroom, I noticed that each class had signed its own "responsible use" poster, using resources from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/. These class contracts were proudly displayed on a bulletin board. What an awesome way to gain buy-in and ownership from students.
At the high school, I visited two teachers, and I loved the obvious respect and rapport that had been developed in these classrooms. The interactions among students and between students and teachers that I witnessed in both these classrooms made it clear that these teachers modeled their expectations for students every day. In one classroom there were only two expectations: Be courteous, Be accountable. If only we could all be these two things every day, the world would be a kinder, more organized place!
Visiting with each of these teachers on my English walk and watching the way their classrooms work inspired me to grow in my own practice and try some new things in my instruction. I'm particularly excited about an argumentative writing handout that one teacher shared with me, and I was able to share some of our analytical writing resources with another teacher. Sharing our practice is a pivotal part of being the best teachers we can be each day. It's rejuvenating to take a step back from the stress and constant hustle of our day-to-day reality in the classroom. It's refreshing to share the struggles of what's tough and the triumphs of what's working with others who get it. I can't even tell you what a great way it was to spend my Monday.