Saturday, July 12, 2014

Self-Evaluation Equals Becoming a Better Teacher!

Confessions: I miss blogging, I miss connecting with other teachers in a way that only happens in the virtual world of teacher blogging! I want to be at the I Teach K conference in Vegas! I want to be asked to be a presenter! I want to share with the world my joy of learning and help other teachers the way I know I can…. I just don't know where to start!

To help me get back into blogging I decided to take the #Kinderblog14 blogger challenge. Challenge 1,  write the blog post you've been meaning to write, or have had on the draft board and never finished. For almost a week now I tried to figure out where to start, where to jump in… then I checked my draft board and found this one I started back in NOVEMBER! Like I said, I haven't blogged in a LONG time!!!!

So here is what I started writing back in November 2013:

As many of you know I've been posting a lot about my excitement of working in a new school... well 39 days down and that excitement hasn't changed. I'm finding that this new school is pushing me to become a better teacher than I ever imagined! Both my APs (assistant principals) have set the bar pretty high for me and I am doing everything in my power to reach that bar.

This past week I started doing math centers. Our math curriculum is centered around the use of a text book, which for my ELL students I have found to not be very engaging. I got permission to use the textbook as I see fit and teach the concepts in various ways, including centers, games, and hands on learning! I still have to administer the mid-chater and end of chapter tests from the program... which if all goes well my kids should be able to do because my centers and hands on approach will hopefully help my kiddies learn the math concepts. So center based math it was. We are focusing on the numbers 0-9 as well as the terms, greater than, less then and introducing simple adding and subtracting (without actually introducing those terms: I have three apples, my brother has 2 more apples than me, how many apples does my brother have).

I met with one of my APs last week to share what I was doing and he challenged me - how are you holding the students accountable to what they are learning? How are you tracking what they are doing? Good question! I have 6 tables in my classroom - so I made 6 centers.

This is what I used to do: One center was a teacher lead center where I work on the skills each group needs. Right now my big focus for the majority of the class is to master the idea of one number at a time. My high fliers are working on counting on, and addition problems using the terms more and less. This center always had some sort of product I could keep and file - whether it was a page stapled in their math journal or their math tests. I had one center that was math books - we don't have a lot of time to read/look at books and I thought this might be an interesting way to bring books into another part of our day. I had a number writing center, and a few games of matching numbers.

After meeting with my AP and his questions about accountability I started to think... hmm... I need to find a way to make these centers have more meaning. I scoured the internet and found some great teachers who were willing to help me out! One teacher in particular: Crystal @ Kreative Kinder was amazing!!! I mean above and beyond when it came to answering my millions of questions (and she's willing to answer even more of my questions!) I've spent most of the time picking Crystal's brain about literacy centers (because, yes trying one new thing at a time is just not going to work for me!) but one great idea I got from Crystal was to basically have two centers in one. First the kids would do a paper and pencil activity which would be followed by a quiet activity.

And here is my current follow-up:
The reality - my goal of doing centers all the time fell much shorter than I like. Lack of supplies and cost were only part of the problem. Trying to learn a new curriculum AND trying to invent and incorporate centers was challenging to me at times. I decided that I needed to slow down and not jump in without looking. I spent most of the year embracing the new curriculum I was teaching and trying to learn the ins and outs of it. I wanted to get a good handle on the curriculum, figure out what I love and what I hate would like to improve upon for the next school year.

I think I have a good idea now on what our literacy and math curriculums are all about and I'm excited to spend time this summer planning and trying to make them a bit more interactive. Do you have any suggestions or favorite teacher bloggers who have great kindergarten math center ideas?

I really hope this blogger challenge helps get my creativity for blogging flowing again! :)


  1. Sounds like you have smart APs. By questioning in the manner they did if allowed and encouraged you to stretch. There are so many good bloggers out there my recommendation would be to look at preschoolers and 1 and 2's. I think seeing what others are doing before and after helps me be aware. I'd say get all over Pinterest for a quick source of inspiration, but you are already there.