Wednesday, October 2, 2013

21 Days


There's an old theory that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. While I'm sure this is up for debate, I've been holding fast to this idea in the hopes of working on some professional goals and (in all honesty) breaking some bad habits.

At the beginning of the school year, I sat down and created a list of three wants for my classroom:

  1. An inviting space for students and teachers to learn and collaborate.
  2. Be more organized throughout my day.
  3. Maintain my online grade book so that it allows me to effectively plan instruction for my students and serves as a clear communication tool for parents.
My next step was the identify how I was going to get what I wanted in my classroom. For each want, I determined one or two little changes to implement throughout my day. Here's the breakdown: 

An inviting space for students and teachers to learn and collaborate.
I am the first to admit that learning can be messy, but I've really tried hard to enforce cleaning up as we go. Encouraging students to take one minute to put away materials and tidy up their spaces during transitions has saved us quite a bit of time at the end of the day. I even think that less clutter on the floors and tables throughout the day has helped students be more productive in their school work.

Be more organized throughout my day.
Whenever I have a lot going on it seems like my organizational skills are always the first to get pushed aside. I've developed several bad habits over the years, such as making piles of papers all over my room and not putting away materials at the end of the day because I'm tired. This year, I'm working to clean up my work spaces and leave lesson plans and materials for the next day near my computer. I've also experimented with ending my day by making a reasonable list of things to do in the morning. Not only do I feel better when I walk into my classroom in the morning, I know exactly what needs to get done. I'm almost embarrassed at how easy a change this is, and that I should have been doing this years ago. 

Maintain my online grade book so that it allows me to effectively plan instruction for my students and serves as a clear communication tool for parents.
While I've always maintained a grade book, paper or electronic, this year I'm really trying to be more intentional about what goes in and how often I update my grades. My district's new online grade book has all sorts of fancy bells and whistles that will allow me to deeply analyze my students' progress throughout the school year, but only if I put in quality assessments and information. Taking time during my prep period twice a week or so to enter grades and comments for parents (rather than the previous traditional "weekend grade-dump") has been extremely helpful in planning my small group instruction throughout the week and targeting kids for 1:1 conferencing on Fridays. 


Today marks the 21st day of school. While I can't confidently say that any of these are habits yet, I know I am making strides to be more effective in my instruction and efficient throughout my day. Baby steps.

Is there anything you're trying to change this school year?

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